With global communication becoming more and more essential for many businesses, translation services are becoming even more important. Yet the range of pricing can vary so much depending on so many factors, it’s often hard to find the right price vs quality. So how much does translation cost? What are you getting for your money? And why does it cost what it does?
How Much Does Translation Cost?
This varies on a number of factors:
- Language combinations – rarer languages might be more expensive.
- Translation agency vs direct freelancer – these vary greatly in quality and services. Each company/individual takes a different approach.
- Subject of text – more complicated subjects (medical, technical, etc.) cost more to translate because of the complexity of the subject. As well as the need to understand how to make the translation read as if it weren’t
- Deadline – Shorter deadlines can be more expensive, especially if the deadline is urgent.
- Length of text
- Per word vs per page vs per hour
If you have a specific text in mind that you want to translate write a summary of what it is (length, subject matter, deadline) and ask a number of possible translation agencies for a quote.
They should be able to provide you with a quote for the translation based on the information you’ve provided, which will help you decide who you want to use. This is particularly good if you want to use a translator or agency for a long period so you know who you want to build a good relationship with.
What Are You Getting for Your Money?
You are not just getting a word-for-word translation from the source text to your target text. If you were you’d realize that’s probably not what you want in a translation because the translated text you get back won’t read well to a native.
You get so much more when you’re hiring someone to translate a text:
- Fluent translation – one which will read naturally in target language.
- Researched translation – for it to read fluently the translator will often research similar texts. This helps with the most appropriate language and tone for that type of text, as well as subjects they’re unfamiliar with.
- Editing – Translations will be proofread and edited a few times before completion, sometimes by someone different from the translator.
- Formatting – Depending on the text formatting might be require (or requested) so that translated document looks like the source document. This is especially the case if the source text is a pdf or hand written document which are more difficult to work with than word, excel or a CAT tool.
These are often things that take time but you aren’t being charged extra for. So a 10,000 word document might cost you $1000 but that cost covers a lot more than just the translation, especially if it’s a difficult text which takes a long time to proofread.
Why Does Translation Cost What it Does?
Some people might think the cost to translate a document can be expensive (it really is a matter of perspective and opinion), but there are many reasons behind why a translator or agency charges what they do.
- Translator’s experience – a translator might have 5-20 years experience in translation and/or their field. A translator with more experience will charge more because their translations are more likely to be fast, accurate and read fluently in their target language.
- Translator’s credentials – a translator might have studied hard to get an MA and/or a translation certificate. They are also constantly improving themselves through courses, conventions, and talks. A good translator is always working hard to improve themselves and their work.
- Translator’s investments – a translator may have invested a lot of time and money into other things such as computer aided translation tools (CAT tools), or an accountant to help with their books.
- Translator’s livelihood – a translator will have considered the amount they charge so that they can have a healthy balance of work vs life. This is their job, and as freelancers must calculate the best price to support them and their families.
It is difficult to say specifically how much a document will cost to translate, it really does vary on so many factors. This is also just scratching the surface of the industry with a brief explanation of some of the most common situations. Either way I hope this helps.
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions regarding this or translation in general..