Freelance Translation Rates

Freelance Translation Rates

How do you set the right price for your translation work? You don’t want to set your prices so high that you discourage potential clients from coming for your services. On the other hand, you don’t want to sell yourself short. You need to feel well-compensated for the work you have done. One question many new translators ask is whether they should post their rates for potential clients to see. While this may help clients to determine whether your services are within their budget, it can play against you. This is because:

  • Every translation job is unique
  • The complexity of each translation work differs
  • Some seasoned clients may be put-off by this ‘unprofessional’ approach to business pricing. They wonder ‘how can you charge for work of unknown scope?’ This gives them the thought that you could be wanting in other ways as well.

Factors That Determine Your Translation Rates

  1. Some language combination demand higher rates than others. For example translating English to Japanese or Chinese and the other way round, charges more than say to/from Portuguese or Italian.
  2. Length of the translation
  3. Type of translation. Direct speech, writing, transcription or sign language?
  4. Complexity of the subject. Translating in some fields demand a lot of knowledge that may involve taking courses in that field. Rates for these would be much higher than working as a translator for every day’s conversation.
  5. Area of specialization. Medical, pharmaceutical, legal and ICT are translation subspecialty fields that demand much higher fees.
  6. Working in highly sensitive locations such as in military settings goes with especially high fees to compensate for the risk the translator is exposed to.
  7. Added services the client requires. Some clients will also require editing and typesetting the document. This may require some desktop publishing software and knowledge. The added service is charged separately.


After considering all these factors and you now know the scope of the job you are required to do, it is time to decide your rates.

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