How Much Should Translation Services Cost?
Translation quotes and how they are calculated vary widely. The most common pricing methods are based on the word count, page count, hourly rate or a custom project flat fee as determined by several factors. Using the word count is the most common industry-wide. The rates range anywhere from very cheap at £0.05 per word to £0.20 per word on the higher end. Other factors need to be taken into account and the best translation companies look at a variety of factors before quoting a project price.
What factors (other than the word count) may influence your translation project quote?
- Language combination
How common or rare is the source and target language combination? How difficult is it to find a speaker fluent in both the source and target languages?
- Text Complexity or Customisation
Does the project contain legal, technical or specialised terminology? Are there abbreviations, cultural nuances, slang or custom branding considerations?
- Deadline/Desired turnaround date
Is this a rush job with a tight deadline? Can the project go through the typical channels and process or does it need to be expedited?
- Document format
Is a basic text document satisfactory for your final deliverable? Or do you require DTP (desktop publishing) layout services?
Graphic design services are often charged separately from the translation itself.
- Project Volume
If the project is very large or if it is the first of several future similar projects, some providers provide quantity or loyalty discounted terms.
- Freelancer or Agency
Are you hiring an independent contractor or are you partnering with a professional Language Services Provider (LSP) firm with more staff resources and the associated overhead?
Confirm you understand the following before hiring a translation firm:
- Services Included
How is the content translated? Is it machine or human translated? Proofread by humans? Is Translation Memory Systems software (TMS) used to check for terminology consistencies?
What are the credentials of the agency? What certifications do they hold? Do they have professional indemnity insurance? What satisfaction guarantees are offered?
- Quality Controls
Confirm that the quotes you have received are within your range given the service promised:
- Compare Quotes and Confirm online
To determine an acceptable project price range, you may get more than one quote from a similarly qualified organisation. Then, check an online comprehensive interactive table of sample rates based on language combinations, industry and currency. Note, this site cautions, “actual rates often vary depending on the details such as the type of service, expertise required, minimum fees, type of client, etc.” The size of the project and potential for repeat business also impacts the rates quoted. If there is an opportunity for a long-term partnership, providers will be more eager to earn your business.
- Do the math
An average translator can translate about 200-250 words per hour. With this information and your quote, can you estimate what the translator might earn per hour on your project? What does that indicate about their expertise level? How important is your project? Would you trust it in the hands of someone making less than £20/hour?
- Look for red flags
If you have a professional translation company with professional affiliations, certifications, professional indemnity insurance and their prices are on the low end, what are they paying the translators?
In conclusion, any time you distribute content in a new language, your reputation is on the line. In addition, the probability of obtaining the results you want/need depends on the quality of your translations. Now more than ever, there are cheap translation options available. Machine and online networks of freelancers with wide qualification differences are tempting. However, translation is a professional service that needs to be vetted thoroughly, just as you would vet a lawyer or accountant.
At Renaissance Translations, we take great pride in our network of over 3,000 professional translators who are fluent in over 120 languages. We adhere to strict recruiting and quality control processes and are covered by the full professional indemnity insurance recommended by the Association of Translation Companies in England. Our pricing model is consistent and transparent and your project will be fairly priced.