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 volume, location, and the chosen language all play a role in determining the price. While the average cost of professional translation services can range as low as $0.08 to $0.28 per word, the final cost will be based on the number of services required for the project. 

Cost of Translation Per Word 

The average English translation will cost $0.10-$0.20 per word; however, additional costs include volume, subject matter, platform translation (website, app, document), minimum word count, edits, etc., and translator expertise.

This chart displays an average per word cost for some of the most common languages translated. 

Language Translation Rate Per Word
English>Arabic $0.10-$0.20
English>Chinese $0.07-$0.10
English>Hindi $0.08-$0.10
English>Bengali $0.09-$0.22
English>French $0.09-$0.12
English>Farsi (Persian) $0.09-$0.22
English>German $0.08-$0.11
English>Japanese $0.09-$0.12
English>Portuguese $0.09-$0.12

While the final cost of services will vary based on company needs, understanding the cost per word differences for other languages can help you get started.

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Cost of Translation Services in 2022: What Goes Into the Final Cost?

It is important to assess the vendors’ varying costs to understand which translation price is best for you. While some vendors offer transparency in their pricing, others may only gloss over what is included.

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 with a focus on one single language 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 costs per language translation; however, translation costs can also be affected based on where the translator is from and their level of expertise. 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 pay will need to 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.

Location Average Minimum Wage USD Average Annual Income USD
United States $7.25 $7.25 $63,000 $63,000
UK £3.40 -£7.20 per (based on age) $4.48 – $9.49 £24,600- £31,000 $32,408.04 – $40,849.94
China (using Beijing) 25.3 yuan (One yuan equals approximately 0.16 USD) $3.98 151,000 yuan $23,757.08
India 96 INR $1.26 29,400 INR $385.29
France 10.03€ $11.06 31,247€ $34,468.25
Japan 930 JPY/Hour (1 Japanese Yen equals 0.0084 USD) $7.80 4.4 -6 million JPY $36,854.62 – $50,256.30
Sweden 182.60 SEK $19.29 480,000-620,000 SEK $50,701.92 – $65,489.98
Germany 12.00€ $13.24 44,000€ – 51,000€ $48,532.44 – $56,253.51

*Most wages pulled from Statista.com

Often, translation companies will try to find the cheapest translator rates possible based on location and cost of living. Other agencies will carefully select their translators with strict qualification requirements. Determining if the vendor chosen is unionized will also play a role in the credibility of translation services, and also the cost. The US has the ATA (American Translators Association), but other countries may require different union regulations that could affect cost.

When comparing translation service cost by vendor, ask the following questions: 

  • 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 fewer quality translation services, 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 translation required.

Beyond Actual Translation Work

An extensive amount of work is required beyond the actual translation work necessary to manage a translation project successfully. 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 into 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 assessments 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 of choice.

Bureau Works provides a comprehensive platform that offers transparency when defining our cost of translation services. Our commitment to transparency is what sets us apart from other vendors. Contact our team today to learn more about what our platform offers.

Published On: April 19th, 2022 / Categories: Business Translation, Tips & Trends, Translators /

Gabriel Fairman

April 19, 2022

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