Varying charging structures for translation jobs

Charging methods within the translation industry differ not only between agencies and freelance translators but also from country to country. In addition, charging structures can also fluctuate depending on the job in hand. We have therefore detailed a number of especially relevant factors influencing translation rates. Please find below the 6 most common variables.

1 Minimum fees

First of all, freelance translators and translation agencies alike will apply minimum fees for translation jobs below a certain word count. The minimum count can differ not only from agency to agency but also between freelance translators. This is due to the fact that there is no defining rule for a minimum price. However, most translators will charge the minimum fee when charging by word count alone would leave them seriously out-of-pocket. To arrive at this conclusion they will consider all the steps involved in a translation job, which includes not only preparing a quote and doing the translation but also invoicing and credit control.

2 Translation rates calculated per 1000 words or per word

UK-based translators and translation agencies alike usually charge per 1000 words of source or target language. However, the actual rate depends on a combination of all the factors analysed elsewhere on this website.
Also, some UK translators and agencies quote translation rates per word, a variation on a theme.

3 Translation rates based on characters per line

In contrast, on the European mainland (e.g. in Germany and Austria) translation rates are usually based on line counts. In fact, the definition of a “standard line” is a certain number of characters (and spaces) per line (often fixed at 55).

4 All-in/flat translation rates

Some clients prefer a quote as an all-in/flat rate per translation job. While this has the advantage that the client knows precisely how much he’s liable to pay, translators tend to prefer basing their quotes on word count as that reflects more precisely the actual work involved.

5 Hourly translation rates

Alternatively, translators may charge hourly rates under certain conditions. Translators may charge per hour especially when faced with texts consisting of tables with lots of disjointed vocabulary, but also when it is very difficult to predict the amount of time they will have to spent on a translation job.

6 Discounted translation rates

What is more, some freelance translators and translation agencies may give regular clients a discounted translation rate. The reduction in the usual rate would be based on factoring in the time saved due to working with familiar styles and terminology.

And finally, the only way of finding out the price for a particular translation service is contacting a freelance translator or translation agency and ask for a free quote. Please be aware that 99% of all translators will ask to see the document in question before sending you a quotation. Because the charging structure is this complicated, there is no other way for translators to give an accurate quote.

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