Freelance Translation Rates: What is the Cost of a Translation?



Nadia Morales


How do translators decide how much a piece of work will cost? The answer is quite straightforward: it depends on the factors we take into account. Although some basic rates should be respected (especially, in the legal sector), it is also true that each translator has the right to determine their fees. But, what does the final fee include?

Key factors to calculate translators’ fees

To determine the value of a translation, it is of utmost importance that translators consider the following factors:

  • The word count (sometimes, depending on the kind of translation, fees can be charged differently: per page, per hour, etc.)
  • Language pairs (the prices vary based on the difficulties that come with the language and the availability of translators)
  • Overhead expenses (including basic costs such as telephone and Internet access, the software used, the place where the translation will be done, etc.)
  • A salary and a profit margin (together with the decision of keeping profits or investing the money to develop the business)
  • The type of translation (technical translation, legal translation, etc., taking into account the technicalities and how specialized the source text may be)
  • The payment method (the different options to be offered)

What other additional factors may affect the rate?

Usually, the urgency of a translation project also affects the final fee since it is not the same for a translator to work on a translation within an hour than doing it in a week. Translators need some time to do research, then to do the translation, and finally, to review the text to make sure there are no mistakes. It is even advisable to have the text reviewed by a proofreader, which is another factor that might affect the price. Of course, everything depends on the number of words or pages to be translated (or the amount of time in the case of interpreters).


As we have seen, translation rates may vary based on many factors which are not commonly known by all clients, so it becomes necessary to make them clear every time a quote is requested. Sometimes, people underestimate the difficulties and pitfalls that may occur in the translation process, as well as the expertise and training that any professional translator has in order to be able to put their knowledge into practice. There is no doubt that they should also be taken into account and consequently included in the final rate.

Our colleagues crisoltranslations have carried out a very interesting survey on the rates freelance translators charge their clients, whether agency clients or end clients.

At CLS we provide professional sworn and technical translations at affordable rates. Do not hesitate to request your quote.


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