How Are Translation Rates Charged?

If you’ve never approached any translation vendor for its services, chances are you have no clue how translation rates are charged. Like purchasing many other merchandises, the cost for translation services and the quality that comes with it are the primary concerns for most consumers. This article provides informative knowledge of translation pricing that help you make good purchasing decisions on language services.

Translation Costs - What’s Your Purpose?

Translation rates vary wildly with different languages or subject matters. Before you request a translation quote, you must have a definite idea about the translation purpose/end use. Generally, people reach out to language service companies for information or publication translation, either of which has its particular requirement for accuracy. In the language industry, accuracy is the cornerstone of the translation profession and indicates the quality of the services a translation vendor provides. 

For Personal Use: Getting the Gist of the Content

If getting an overall grasp of the foreign-language content is all you need, machine translation like Google Translate can generate fuzzy translations that meet your goal in no time. Although no fee for translation occurs during the process, you’re likely to find some sentences that don’t make sense mingle in the results. So it’s wise to avoid machine translation if you have no intention to involve yourself in the post-editing work after. Or you can go for the MTPE (machine translation post-editing) service from a translation supplier to keep the document translation cost under control. You can check out further information on machine translation on our website. 

Nowadays, advanced machine translators are more than enough to translate small-scale and low-stakes documents. If paying the fee for translation is out of the question, and you only need a general idea of the content, you can confidently turn to machine translations. 

For Informational or Communication Purposes

Before selecting the right translation service package, it’s wise to consider (1) who the translations are targeted for and (2) how much tolerance they have for mistranslation. 

Suppose your colleagues or friends will read your translations. In that case, you can either use MTPE services or translate the document yourself and then have it edited by a professional translator after. This ensures a much higher accuracy in translation and a lower rate of grammatical and syntactical errors. Using MTPE or a post-editing service means you’re prone to receive translations with flaws since no extra quality control is added to either process. But these minor glitches won’t hinder your readers from understanding your message. However, flawed translations may weaken your personal/professional image, but not to the level where you will leave a bad impression on your audience.

When you have a limited budget and are okay with tiny mistakes, MTPE or post-editing services are your go-to option.

For Official or Publication Purposes

Here’s where things get serious. Whether you are an individual looking to translate your certificates into another language or a brand planning to educate its new customers overseas, you must be as critical as possible about the translations used for your audience. Because on official and professional occasions, there is no room for error. 

Imagine what the recruiters will think of you if they catch sight of a typo or a misuse of punctuation in your CV. Or consider how your customers will perceive your brand if a culturally offensive concept is included in the translation of your marketing copy and no one seems to bother to replace it with an appropriate equivalent. The absence of quality assurance is to blame for these situations. Quality assurance (QA) is not included in the translation services at lower rates. But QA is vital when translating for official and publication purposes because it provides a second or even a third pair of eyes to check for linguistic, cultural, and technical mistakes, inaccuracy, and inconsistency. With the extra roles and expanded workload, the translation costs naturally climb. Of course, you get what you pay for. 

If you don’t want to risk tarnishing your professional/corporate image, the TEP (translation, editing, and proofreading) service package from a trusted translation vendor is the failsafe option. Explore our website for more information about translation services. Or you can quickly decide on the TEP service if your requirements fall into any of the following categories:

If you are still trying to decide what service package best fits your linguistic needs, please contact our team for further information on all the translation services provided and their respective rates.

Types of Translation Pricing Models

The pricing of translation services is a determining factor in successfully establishing the relationship between a company and a customer. In what circumstances will a customer complain about the company he shopped from? 

In most cases, it’s because the customer paid an outrageous price, yet the service/product didn’t live up to their expectation. This general rule applies to every business in every industry. The language industry is no exception. If the customers understand the value behind the fees for translation, they would think the high costs are worth it. Language service providers charge translation services based on four common translation pricing models: per word, per hour, per page, and at a minimum fee. These pricing methods determine how the translation costs are calculated. The translation rates under the same pricing model could differ depending on different language combinations, turnaround times, volumes, and subject areas.

Translations Rates Per Word

Per-word pricing is the most straightforward and widely used pricing method applied to a document with a definite word count. Under this method, the translation pricing varies with language pair, volume, subject matter, and project urgency.

In the translation rates per word model, the cost for translation services depends on when the word count of a project is calculated – whether it’s before or after translation. For instance, if you need to translate a document of 1,000 words from English to German at the price of $0.10/word, you will end up paying a total of $100.00 based on the source language word count. However, text expansion/contraction is inevitable when translating between languages. If you translate the same document from English to German at the same rate, yet based on the target language word count, you would be charged more than $100.00 due to the increase in the post-translation word count. If it’s a small-scale document, the spread is negligible. However, for a large-scale project containing millions of words or characters, the translation rates based on source and target language word count could vary wildly. So it’s best to ask the translation supplier about their calculation rule of the word count in the per-word pricing method. 

Hourly Translation Rates

Translation rates per hour are adopted when charging based on the word count of a short text can’t cover the cost produced during the work process. Take website translation, where strings of content need to be translated and updated regularly, as an example. Even though the actual text for translation is sometimes short, the time taken and the effort made to get the job done can not be measured by the rates based on word count. Other use cases include other time-based assignments like proofreading, quality assurance, desktop publishing, or interpreting in which the effort to type the entire document is unnecessary. 

Translation Rates Per Page

Per-page translation rates are less commonly used than per word and hourly translation rates. But it still has its place. When the word count of an image file or handwritten document is difficult to determine electronically, the translation vendors can either count every word manually or charge per page. Instead of wasting hours calculating a word count and increasing unnecessary project management costs, most LSPs opt for the latter. The per-page translation rates are either flat fee charges or based on the average word count of most document pages. Though rarely used, this translation pricing model is ideal for unrecognizable documents like handwritten letters or certificates. 

Minimum Fee

The documents that needed translation come in various forms. The orders from individual customers may comprise just a few words. Most LSPs won’t turn down the order simply because of the small project volume. However, services for smaller projects also come at a minimum price. Regardless of the project size, good translation companies like Wordspath always use the same crew to process the translation work. It makes sense for the translation companies to charge a minimum rate to offset the overheads produced during the process since the small-scale translation projects that are charged based on word count generally run at a loss.

Professional Translation Services

Get accurate and consistent translation of your text content into 150+ languages at as low as $0.07 per source word. No subject matter is ever too intricate for our experienced linguists with area-specific expertise.

Factors that Affect Translation Rates

Multiple factors are at play when it comes to determining the rates for translation rates. If you think a translation quote by the vendor is exorbitant or too good to be true, it’s because you didn’t take the following translation pricing factors into account.

Costs of Living

How much do translators cost in different countries? Before answering such a question, the translation company will probably respond by asking: what language are you translating into, and what are your requirements for the translator? If you target your content to an audience in developed European countries and require translations by an in-country native translator, the translator rates for such services are naturally high due to the high living costs and workers’ income. 

Supply and Demand

Rates for translation vary with the offer and demand of a language. The translation costs of a rare or less common language are usually higher than that of a widely-spoken language. It’s because, unlike common language translators, the population of rare language speakers is small per se. Let alone qualified translators of that rare language. 

Subject Matter

The subject matter of the content for translation also plays a significant role in determining the document translation cost. General translation projects are often charged at lower rates than specialized translation projects. The more technical the content is, the higher the translator costs. Translating industry-specific documents requires professional linguists who are also subject matter experts in a specialized field. And such professionals are small in number.

Actual Work Behind the Translation Costs

Visually, the deliverables of translation projects are just the text in another language. But there’s so much more behind the words. Translation is just a part of the whole process. But most customers are unaware of the value-added efforts in project management, quality assurance, and translation assets maintenance. 

To Wrap Up

How to choose the most cost-effective translation service package depends on the varied purposes of translation. Before working with a translation supplier, it’s critical to confirm what translation pricing model it adopts and how they will calculate the translation rates. If you are demanding of translation quality, be sure to select a reputable translation company that provides quality assurance in the service. Contact us for more information on how much do translations cost or request a quote.

Wordspath can help

Wordspath provides highly reliable human translation and state-of-the-art machine translation services for content related to diverse subject matters with accuracy and consistency. 

We take pride in our quality-driven workflow that combines the excellent work of our linguists, desktop publishers, project managers, customer service, and technical team. Their endless support allows Wordspath to provide first-rate language solutions in 150+ languages for thousands of customers who need to connect with the world.

Wordspath also offers machine translation post-editing services translating the content with our proprietary MT engine and having our in-house/contracted linguists review,  edit, polish, and proofread the results.

Meanwhile, we are highly experienced in delivering tailor-made localization-related solutions such as desktop publishing, transcription, subtitling, and voiceover. Our ability to quickly handle a wide range of content types between nearly all language combinations sets us apart from our competitors. Should you need to consult on your best-fit language solution, you can contact us through live chat or email to Or simply request a free quote.

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