How to work out what to charge for a translation job

Factors to include

When you are setting out as an independent translator, knowing what rate to charge for a translation job seems an impossible task. If you read the article on what factors make quoting for a translation job so difficult, you’ll have a thorough understanding of which factors you may want to include when pricing up a job.

Doing market research

Translators also need to do some market research. You won’t know what the “going rate” for your language pair is, unless you ring around some agencies and some professional translators. You’ll very quickly realise how wide the price range is.

Considering market factors when working out what to charge for a translation job

Iolante knows of no country that places legal restrictions on how much you can charge. What determines your basic translation rate is mainly determined by a few market factors:

  • Are you working for direct clients or for translation agencies?
  • What do agencies/other translators charge for your language pair?
  • How much are clients willing and/or able to pay for a translation job in your (area of the) country?

Calculating a target income

Another way of working out what rate to charge for a translation job is looking at what you need to earn to make a living. To make target income calculations easy, Iolante provides a free budgeting tool for you to download. You fill in your details and Cost2Target will calculate the income you need to earn. Taking the above three points into account, you may find that you’ll have to work very hard to achieve the desired income.

Working for direct clients

Your translation rates can be much higher if you work for clients directly, without using an intermediary. This is due to the fact that you can afford to charge much lower prices than agencies as your costs are significantly lower than theirs. Clients who are used to paying agency level fees will find your prices very competitive.

Taking into account the competition

If you are in direct competition with other independent translators though, you’ll find a cutthroat environment out there. There are a number of sites on the Internet where translation service providers are pitted against each other like modern-day gladiators. The lowest quote wins. Don’t go there. It would be better for you to work for a reputable agency.

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