Best Practices

The Cost of Translation Services

A strong localization management platform can mean the difference between paying for sub-par translation services vs. quality work.
Lucky Eze
2 min
Table of Contents

A strong localization management platform can mean the difference between paying for sub-par translation services vs. quality work. The cost of translation services is a top-of-mind discussion when planning a translation project. Cost per word, context, project volume, location, and the chosen language all play a role in determining the average price of translation price. While the average cost of professional translation services can range from $0.08 to $0.28 per word, the final cost will be based on the number of services required for the project.

Factors Affecting Translation Costs in 2023

Translation costs vary depending on various factors such as target language pairs, type of language pair, content, deadlines, and quality requirements. In this blog post, we will discuss these factors in detail.

Language Pairs

One of the most significant factors affecting translation costs is the language pair. For example, translating from English to Spanish is less expensive than translating a source document from English to a less common language like Swahili. The availability of translators also affects translation costs. For instance, if there are fewer translators for a particular language, the cost of translating source documents from that language to another may be higher.

Type of Content

The type of content being translated also affects translation costs. Technical content such as court documents, medical reports, business documents, and engineering manuals require specialized knowledge and expertise, increasing translation costs. On the other hand, translating general content, such as emails and blog posts, is less expensive.


The deadline for completing a translation project is another significant factor that affects translation costs. If a project needs to be completed within a short period, translation agencies may have to assign more translators to work on the project, which increases the cost of the project. In contrast, the cost will be lower if there is ample time to complete a project.

Quality Requirements

The quality of the translation also affects the cost of translation services. If the translation agency is required to provide high-quality translations, they may have to assign more experienced and specialized translators to the project, which increases the cost per translation rate. Additionally, the project's cost will increase if the client requires additional quality checks, such as proofreading and editing.

Translation Companies and Agencies

The type of translation agency or translation company you selected also affects the cost of translation services. Different translation companies will have different rates, so choosing the one that fits your budget and quality requirements is crucial. There are three main types of translation agencies: freelancers, small translation agencies, and large translation agencies.

Freelancers: Freelancers are individual, professional translators who work independently. They are usually the least expensive option, but their quality and reliability may be inconsistent.

Small translation agencies: Small translation agencies have a few employees and offer more personalized services. They are a good option for small to medium-sized projects.

Large translation agencies: Large translation agencies have more resources and can handle large projects. However, their rates may be higher than small translation agencies or freelancers.

Cost of Translation Per Word

MLV vs. SLV: Which Cost is Best?

In comparing vendors for translation services, it is important to understand how agencies operate. For example, a large agency typically will outsource translation projects to smaller agencies such as MLVs (Multi-Language Vendors) or SLVs (Single Language Vendors). An MLV offers a range of translation services into multiple different languages.

An SLV offers services focusing on one single target language for translation. With an SLV, if a client is working on a project with 44 different languages, they potentially will need to work with 44 agencies. However, those 44 agencies will provide granular management since they focus on one language. An MLV can provide various language translation services on a larger scale, but the cost will be substantial compared to a smaller vendor.

Translator Cost Based on Income

The above chart explored the standard per-word translation rates and costs per language translation; however, average translation rates and costs can also be affected based on where the translator is from and their level of expertise. The cost of living is a primary component to consider. The individual cost of living determines minimum translation rates. If a company hires a translator in their native country, the payment must be computed to where the work is being performed. Japan and Sweden have a high cost of living, resulting in a higher cost per word rate. Whereas in India, the cost of living is lower, resulting in lower costs. Each country has its economic reality that is exponentially different from the other.

  • How is your per-word cost calculated?
  • How do you select your translators?
  • Can you provide an itemized list breaking down the cost?
  • Are you unionized?

It's important to have an honest dialogue with your vendor about the process to ensure they are working compatibly with the quality results you expect.

Supply and Demand

Supply and demand play a significant role in determining the cost of translation services. From an economic perspective, underdeveloped countries have less quality translation and language services around, which inevitably become expensive. While some countries may have a lower cost of living, resulting in a lower translation cost, lack of talent can cause translation services to be costly simply due to the supply and demand of the language and translation service provider required.

Beyond Actual Translation Work

Much work is required beyond the actual translation work necessary to successfully manage a translation project. Some examples include:

  • Scope of project: The project's complexity can take days to scope. For example, website translation services, apps, and eLearning projects take time to plan and execute strategically. The length the translator must go to ensure translation quality is met may also be extensive. Brands may want their translator to immerse themselves in the content before working on the project. Context is key; however, the time spent could accrue additional costs.
  • Management: Project managers must ensure that all resources flow into translatable assets. For example, the complexity of feeding information such as documents into translation management systems. This process can either be simple or complicated.
  • Translation glossary: Do you have a translation glossary or memory established? A translation memory stores segments of translated material in a database. These segments are paired with their source text to avoid charging clients a full price for similar or identical sentences to prevent repetition and keep translations consistent. Without this tool, you could risk being charged for similar content.
  • Quality assurance: Quality assessment practices guarantee the material is translated correctly with close attention to accuracy. Quality assurance is necessary for the translation process and is often compiled into the final cost. If not, this service is worth the investment, as translation is nothing if it does not make sense to the reader.

A strong localization management platform can mean the difference between paying for sub-par translation services vs. quality and trustworthy work. In examining the cost of translation services in 2022, be sure to outline all necessary components before selecting your vendor translation service of choice. CAT and localization tools are great for optimizing translation costs and the translator's time and work.

Especially when dealing with technical translation, as they help us maintain consistency. Software localization will also raise the level of your work. However, a quality translation cannot be entirely performed by machines. A detailed review is essential for a good result, as human intelligence is irreplaceable.

How to Get the Best Value for Your Translation Budget

To get the best value out of your document translation cost budget, there's a need for some decisive actions. Take the following steps to make your document translation cost budget effective:

Choose the Right Translation Agency

The first step in getting the best value for your document translation services cost budget is to choose the right translation agency. There are many translation agencies out there, each offering different rates and levels of service. To find the right reputable translation agency for your needs, consider the following factors:

  • Experience: Look for an agency with experience in your industry or niche. They will be better equipped to handle the specific terminology and nuances of your content.
  • Quality: Make sure the agency has a rigorous quality control process in place to ensure accurate and error-free translations.
  • Reputation: Check online reviews and ask for references to gauge the agency's reputation and reliability.
  • Rates: Compare rates from different agencies to ensure you are getting a competitive price.

Negotiate Rates

Once you have chosen an agency, don't be afraid to negotiate rates. Many agencies are willing to offer discounts or negotiate rates, especially for larger or ongoing projects. You can also ask if they offer any special rates for non-profit organizations or repeat customers.

Provide Clear Instructions

Clear instructions can help minimize the time and effort required for a translation project. This can help reduce costs and increase the efficiency of the translation process. When providing instructions, be sure to include the following:

  • The purpose of the translation
  • The target audience
  • Any specific formatting or style requirements
  • Any terminology or jargon unique to your industry
  • Use Translation Memory

Translation memory is a database of previously used translated words and content that can be used to improve the accuracy and consistency of translations. This can help reduce the time and effort required for a translation project, ultimately reducing costs. Many translation agencies use translation memory as a standard practice, so be sure to ask if this is an option for your project.

How to Determine the Scope of Your Translation Project

If you're planning to have your documents translated, one of the first things you need to determine is the scope of your translation project. The scope will determine the cost of translation services, and it's important to know what you're dealing with before you start looking for a certified translator. In this blog post, we'll discuss how to determine the scope of your translation project, including project volume, translated text, source language, and more.

Project Volume

The first step in determining the scope of your translation project is to determine the volume of the project. This can be measured in pages or words, depending on the translators per page or word rate. Some translators charge by the page, while others charge by the word. It's important to determine your translator's rate and how many pages or words you have in your document.

Translated Text

Once you've determined the project volume, the next step is to determine the amount of text that needs to be translated. Not all documents are 100% text, and some documents may have graphics, tables, or charts that also need to be translated. It's important to clarify with your translator whether they charge for graphics and, if so, how much they charge per graphic.

Source Language

Another important factor in determining translation cost and the scope of your translation project is the source language. Some languages are more difficult to translate than others, which can affect the cost of translation services.

For example, a document in a language that uses non-Latin characters, such as Chinese or Arabic, may take longer to translate than a document in a Latin-based language, such as Spanish or French. In addition, some languages have more complex grammar and sentence structure than others, which can also affect the cost of translation.

Certified Translator

Regarding translation services, it's important to work with a certified translator. Certified translators have passed an exam that certifies their language proficiency and translation skills. In addition, certified translators are held to a higher standard of quality and professionalism than non-certified translators. When working with a certified translator, asking for their per-page or per-word rates upfront is important to avoid any surprises later on.

Additional Factors

In addition to the factors mentioned above, other factors can affect the scope of your translation project. These include the deadline for the project, the format of the original document used, and any special requirements or requests. For example, your translator may charge a rush fee if you need your document translated within a tight deadline. Similarly, your translator may charge a formatting fee if you need your document translated in a specific format, such as Adobe InDesign or Microsoft Word.

Determining the scope of your translation project is an important step in getting an accurate quote for translation services. By considering factors such as project volume, translated text, source language, and working with a certified translator, you can ensure that you get a fair and accurate quote for your project. Remember to clarify any additional factors that may affect the cost of your project, and always work with a reputable and professional translator.


In conclusion, the cost of translation services in 2023 is influenced by various factors, including language pair, type of content, deadline, and so on. Depending on these factors, the cost per word can range from a few cents to several dollars. However, the actual translation work is just a part of the entire project, which may involve additional tasks like editing, proofreading, formatting, and project management. 

To get the best value for your translation budget, it's crucial to work with a reputable and experienced translation agency, communicate your needs clearly, and provide context and reference materials. Additionally, understanding the scope of your translation project and defining your objectives can help you choose the right service level and avoid unnecessary costs.

Lucky Eze
Lucky Ezeihuaku is an SEO expert and specialist Translation content writer with Bureau Works. He has a master’s degree in English and Literature, and has been writing professionally for at least 7 years. He has gone on to specialize in the Translation and Localization niche, churning out multiple quality, informative, and optimized articles for Bureau Works over the past year. He claims writing and developing SEO strategies keeps him going, and he’s also interested in Data Analytics.
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