Guide for determining your rates as a translator
What can I charge for my translations?
Something both new and experienced translators should consider are the rates they wish to charge for translations in different language combinations. It can be difficult to work out exactly how much different translation agencies pay for translation projects. Should you charge per hour, per project, per word or something else? This will differ depending on the agency and the translator. At Diction, we use price per word, both for our clients and translators alike. In theory, you can set whatever price per word you like when working as a translator.
It is worth considering what your capacity is. If your capacity allows you to accept more assignments, you may want to consider lowering your price. On the other hand, if you have enough work coming in, then you may want to consider increasing your rates. If you are unsure on what your price per word could/should be, you are of course welcome to contact us for guidance.
To determine what amount YOU can charge for your translations, it is a good idea to start by considering your profile. When doing so, distinguish between the different specialisations you can offer and the language combinations you translate within.
Specialist vs. generalist
Specialised translators can often charge a higher salary for translations than generalists can. The reason for this being that the accumulation of specialised knowledge not only takes time to begin with, but that it also takes more time to translate specialised texts due to their high complexity. A high demand for the limited number of specialists means that they can charge higher rates.
The most sought-after specialists are ones with knowledge of the following fields:
- Finance and economics
- Technical texts, including instruction manuals
Generalists often translate many different types of texts within different fields such as the humanities, literature, marketing, culture, website texts, and so on (you can of course be a specialist within these fields, but several agencies consider them to fall into the general category). As a generalist, you are therefore able to take on a wide range of different assignments, which means more potential projects and thus a higher workload.
Because many translators work as generalists, the competition is fiercer. As a result, generalists often have no choice but to offer more competitive prices, which can result in a lower rate per word compared to specialised translators. General texts are often considered easier to translate and so it is therefore easier to translate a higher volume of words per day.
In most cases, it will be possible to obtain a higher salary by translating high-priority texts. Depending on the exact size of the text, these jobs might come with a deadline of just 24 hours. You should therefore consider whether or not you want to charge a different price for these kinds of projects and if you will be able to accept work on short notice.
Minimum price when translating
To secure a minimum rate for your translations, you can consider setting a minimum price. That way, you are guaranteed to receive your minimum price when translating a very short text. If you do not know what minimum price to charge, you are more than welcome to contact us for advice.
What language combinations can you translate within?
At Diction, we only employ native-language translators, so you will always translate into your first language.
Your rates will vary depending on your language combinations. Certain language pairs command higher rates than others because they take a longer time to translate or because there are fewer translators working within these language combinations. An example of such a language is Dutch. However, the more common language combinations, such as English into Danish, for example, often entail a lower price per word, because there are more translators working in these pairs. You should also consider which country the translation agency is based in as rates will differ from country to country.
Are you capable of more than translating? Then point it out!
In order to boost your salary even further, consider the full range of services you can offer. For example, are you able to offer translation, proofreading and copywriting? Then point this out to the project manager or include this information alongside your rates in our system. By listing all of your services, you will increase your chances of being selected on projects.
Calculate your potential salary for an entire month
To calculate your potential salary, determine how quickly you can translate different texts and what capacity and availability you have for translation each day. By multiplying the number of words you can translate each day with your chosen price per word, you can calculate the salary you could potentially achieve. We can always help you determine whether your goal is ambitious, too low or realistic.
We hope this guide has proven useful in laying out the different variables that influences your potential salary as a translator.