I get asked a lot of questions but the question I answer most often is “what are general translation rates?” or “how much does a translation cost?” My answer is always “Well, it depends…”
Translation Rates Depend on…
What does it depend on, you ask? First it depends on what you mean by “cost”. Do you mean the price? I’m sure most people do. What I push people to understand is that the “cost” of purchasing translation services is far below the “cost” of not doing it or purchasing inferior quality work. I want translation services purchasers to think of translation as an investment. With any investment, you need to calculate an ROI (return on investment).
Here is the basic formula:
ROI= Gain from investment – cost of investment/cost of investment
You have an English to French translation, let’s say a brochure, and it costs you $300 to translate.
You send them to your French customers and receive $5000.00 in orders.
Your ROI is: ~1 566%
Now, for all you purists out there, the equation really is more complicated than this. You have to factor in the cost of printing your brochures, mailing, etc. But this is just an example that I’m using to get my point across.
Translation services are an investment in growth, customer service, and worker satisfaction.
Ok, now that I’ve gotten that out of the way. Let’s talk about translation rates.
Translation Rates – Region to Region
Translations rates vary significantly from region to region. A 1000 word English to French translation done in Quebec, Canada might be significantly cheaper than that same document translated by a company in Albuquerque, New Mexico. That’s a factor of supply. The company in Albuquerque may not have access to a huge roster of French translators.
Translation Rates – Qualifications
Aside from availability of translators, you also have different qualifications of the translators. If you have a legal document translation or a technical manual translation, the translation rate would vary compared to the translation of a birth certificate or non-technical marketing material. This is because the qualifications of someone that is translating an affidavit would have to be much higher than a typical translator owing to the fact that the legal sector has specialized terms. Beyond this, the consumer needs to guard against the potential risk of poor translation when it comes to highly technical documents.
Translation Rates – Translation Memory
Finally, the availability of translation memory factors in to your long term translation rate. Translation memory is basically a database of special terms from your previous translation projects. If you work in a highly specialized sector with niche specific terms, those terms will be stored in your translation memory. Your translation rate will decrease as time goes on because our translators can draw on your previous projects instead of having to re-invent the wheel.
So, the long and short of it is this: translation rates vary significantly. You are best off actually submitting a document for quotation versus trying to find an online list of pricing. Pricing listings do not take into account the complexity and nature of your translation projects.
If you’re looking for a general guideline, translation rates will vary anywhere from $0.15-$0.40/word depending on type of document, rarity of the language, and time frame. For translation projects that involve graphics, the translation services provider may offer desktop publishing at a rate of $60-$80/hour.
Able Translation’s translation services fall at the bottom end of the spectrum in terms of price but that is because we have access to an extensive pool of translators and have on-staff desktop publishers and web developers.
Submit a document and we’ll get in contact with you immediately.
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