How Much Does a Translator Cost on Average?

You’re a business owner who just struck the deal of a lifetime. You feel like a million bucks, until you realize your client only speaks Mandarin. 

Or maybe you are a writer who desperately needs to get a manuscript translated into Spanish fast! Whatever scenario you’re in, you realize that you are going to need a translator. 

But then your entrepreneurial instincts kick in and you ask yourself, “Just how much is a translator?” Scouring the internet for translator cost can be headache-inducing, so keep reading and find all the answers you are looking for. 

Is There a Standard Cost of a Translator?

To give a simple answer, no, there is not one set translation price. Costs can vary depending on the company, where you are, the number of words, and which language you are translating to or from. 

But for the sake of averages, translation services can range from $15-$45 an hour. Of course, this is in relation to the number of words in the original language, not the target language. 

Human Translation vs. Computer Translation

In the modern market, you have a choice between human translation (standard translation with no electronic aid) and computer translation (translated by a computer but with human edits). 

Though it is more accurate than Google Translate, computer translation can have major drawbacks despite its slightly lower translator prices. A computer is not able to express the nuances that come from a human translator writing in their native tongue. However, an upside is that the process is generally quicker than human translation. 

Still, it is widely regarded that human freelance translation is the best option for accurate translator services.

Translator Cost Difference Between Languages

There is no question that, because certain languages are spoken more commonly than others, there will be price fluctuations between them. For example, if you need to hire a translator who speaks Dutch or Japanese, it is going to be more expensive than a Spanish or Chinese translator. 

Keep in mind that niche languages will often cost more per word than common ones because they are harder to come by. Also, if you live in an area where the target language is a common minority language (eg. French in Quebec or Spanish in South Florida), chances are that the cost will be slightly lower. 

Complexity of Writing

Typically, a translation service will charge a higher rate per word if the writing is more complex. These price fluctuations can also depend on the length of writing. If you are translating something along the lines of War and Peace, prepare to see a hefty price tag. 

So, if you practice law, medicine, or are in another field with complex writing, you should expect to see this reflected in the bill. If not, it may be in your best interest to simplify your writing as much as you can to keep down costs and help your readers.

Often, even with simple writing, translated documents require additional edits from someone other than the translator, usually a native speaker of the language. Reputable vendors spring for certified fluent speakers and this can affect the service’s price tag. 

Then, there is the distinction between document translation and website translation. 

Document vs. Website Translation

When purchasing a translation service, it is necessary to consider the medium of writing which you need to be translated. Individual document translation tends to be slightly pricier than webpage translation. However, the handoff is that there tends to be less material in document work. 

An additional tip to consider if you are translating a website is that most of the time, you need to accommodate speakers of multiple languages. The average website will have pages translated to the most commonly spoken languages (a.k.a. lingua francas). Including multiple languages on your site will increase the cost but accommodate more customers, so it is your call. 

Overall, website translation will put you back more than individual document translation.

How Fast Do You Need Your Translation?

Translating an entire document into another language can be tedious when there is a lot of material. If you are desperate for a quick translation, it is not uncommon for a translator to charge rush translator fees.  

You will have access to your translation faster, but expect a higher price tag. Remember that quick service is not always optimal service, so keep in mind that the extra time it takes for standard service might just make your translation that much more accurate. 

Do Not Leave It to Google Translate

If you are considering trying to save a quick buck by running your document through Google Translate, you had better think twice. 

It is a lesson known to every college freshman taking Spanish 101: Google Translate will not make it past the eyes of a native speaker. Sure, your reader might get the gist of the document or site’s meaning, but they are 100% going to know you used Google Translate. 

Sentence structure will be clunky, words will seem out of place, and any humor or sayings will be lost in translation. Not even to mention the fact that Google Translate cannot understand the context of your writing!

Yes, Google Translate is free. But no, you will not be fooling anyone.

A human freelance translation professional will be able to understand and incorporate your individual needs. They are certain to ‘wow’ any customer into becoming regular clientele. 

Making a Worthy Investment for Your Business

You have gone through all of the steps and considerations regarding translator cost differences. You know that costs are going to vary depending on your needs, but that you are in the ballpark of $15 to $45 an hour. 

With this information, you can now begin your search for a reasonably priced translation service.

If you enjoyed this post on translator fees, then make sure you take a look at our other articles too!

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