Prices & FAQ
How Much Does a Translation Cost?
Short Answer: around 0.14 € / 0.17 $ per source word
Long Answer: It depends.
There are three main factors that determine the price of a translation:
- Language Pair: Translations in rare languages like English to Hebrew tend to cost more than in common languages like English to German.
- Urgency: A translation that absolutely has to be delivered on the same day will be priced higher.
- Difficulty: The more complex / technical a text is, the more research is required – and the more it will cost.
Other factors that might have an impact are so-called “non-editable content” like graphics with embedded text; poor-quality scans of documents that require painstaking manual deciphering; documents featuring a complex layout that requires extensive adjustments in the target language, just to name a few.
Generally speaking, translation pricing can be tricky. The market is often opaque and uniquely imperfect in that most customers are not in a good position to evaluate the quality of the product.
The yearly fee survey conducted by the BDÜ (the main association of translation professionals in Germany) quotes an average fee of 1.55 – 1.85 € per standard line for translations into and from German, depending on the type of text¹. This roughly translates to 0.15 – 0.20 € per source word².
Average fees for interpreting services are around 70 – 75 € per hour.
If anyone offers you a significantly lower price, you can safely assume that there will be substantial trade-offs in quality. Now there’s nothing bad about that, and the approach works for translations that are not particularly important (my first translation job was translating user reviews for a hotel site for 0.03 $ per source word).
However, technical, legal or medical documents as well as marketing collateral will simply come out wrong if done sub-professionally, and perhaps do more harm than good: If you get a bad translation for your website, you make yourself less appealing to potential customers. If you deliver a machine with poorly translated documentation, your client won’t be able to operate it.
In most cases, if you opt for a cheap translation, you will have to get it re-done and pay again.
¹ I. e. depending on the difficulty as well as non-editable elements, content requiring DTP / OCR work etc.
² Assuming a standard line length of 55 characters and an average word length of 5.1 characters in English plus 1 character for the space
How Long Does a Translation Take?
Short Answer: around one day per 2,500–3,000 words
Long Answer: It depends.
Most translators can handle roughly 2,000–3,000 words per day, although some take on up to 5,000 or as little as 1,500 words per day.
Again, a few factors can lead to a longer time frame for the completion of a translation:
- Technical difficulty: Some technical documents require a lot of research in order to thoroughly understand them and to establish the right terminology to be used.
- Creativity: Translations of ad campaigns or marketing collateral, for instance, require a rather creative approach in order to accurately convey subtext and to make certain cultural adaptations.
- Formatting: If your document contains text embedded in an image or has a complex layout it will take more time to recreate that and make sure that everything looks just right.