If you’re looking to buy translation services, there’s a lot to consider.

You’ll have to look for a Language Services Provider (LSP) that is tech savvy, uses automation to speed up processes and cut expenses and puts a strong emphasis on quality. But there’s probably one other thing you’re curious about, too – cost.

There are many ways translation is priced, each with its own distinct features, benefits and/or drawbacks. Below we’ll go over different pricing methods for translation and how each of them work.

Per Word

Pricing translation at a per-word rate is maybe the most common method in the localization industry. According to ProZ, it seems the average varies anywhere from .05 to .15 cents per word.

Translators see this pricing model as one that’s fair and easy to track. Going over a 10,000-word document will obviously take longer than one that has only 500 words. With the per-word model, translators are getting paid for the time and effort they put in based on word count.

Some languages might be more expensive depending on how difficult it is to translate. For more uncommon languages, it’s more difficult to find competent translators. The subject matter of content to be translated will also determine rates. For example, marketing content won’t be priced the same as technical or internal communications.

It’s important to note, too, whether a per-word payment method prices the source or target language document. Using source documents as the basis for word count allows translations into multiple languages to be consistent in cost.

Hourly

It’s difficult to price translations with an hourly wage since skilled translators will complete jobs faster for less money while more novice linguists will get paid more for the same amount of work. For this reason, it’s not a common practice.

However, hourly pricing might be used for revisions of a text. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the average hourly wage for interpreters and translators is almost $25. It’s more likely for interpreters to be paid at a daily or hourly rate than it is for translators to be compensated that way.

How Is Translation Priced? Common Methods Used In The Industry

Per Page

Some translation projects are priced per page. This model is helpful when a word count isn’t possible due to a file’s format. The downside to this method is that per-page word counts are usually estimated, and you might end up paying more than necessary.

To avoid a translation costing more than it needs to, be sure to provide your LSP with documents that are easily accessible and able to be scanned for word counts.

Set Rate

Translations will be billed at a set rate when per-word and hourly fees aren’t applicable. Set prices will obviously vary on what languages are being translated and the difficulty/size of a project.

LSPs might have set pricing models for certain documents (tech manuals, certificates, etc.). For example, a web site with 100 pages could be set at a fixed rate while different paper sizes could also have different charges.

Set-rate pricing is cut and dry in some ways, but, at the same time, this method doesn’t allow buyers to see what exactly they’re paying for. Per-word pricing lets clients review their payment and what specific services were billed.

Pay for Quality

No matter how it’s priced, your translations should be done by an experienced, quality-oriented LSP. If your localized documents aren’t accurate, it doesn’t matter how much you spend.

Work with an LSP that understands your localization needs. A language provider that creates clear, understandable translations based on your budget and project requirements will help produce a positive and successful partnership between vendor and client.

For more stories on industry knowledge, visit the ULG Daily’s strategy page.

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Belia Jimenéz-Lorente

Belia Jimenéz-Lorente

Belia Jimenéz-Lorente has more than 25 years of experience in the localization industry. In her current role, Belia is focused on issuing RFP pricing for new opportunities, and works directly with sales in evaluating existing client accounts and promoting fair and accurate rates in order to improve client savings. Belia is also responsible for managing ULG’s Vendor Management team.

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