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need insight: per word quote vs. hour rate for highly technical docs
Thread poster: gracesunny

gracesunny
Local time: 17:05
English to Chinese
+ ...
Nov 7, 2006

Dear fellow translators,

I work with English and Chinese pair. Recently, I have to use per word rate to quote instead of hourly rate for a highly technical documents, which require professional working experience in that field.

It takes a lot of time do it with professional high quality. Though I was able to quote with a decent cents/word rate, but consider the time I spent in translatin and final review, I am actually working with low hourly rate.

I wonder what is a decent range of a per word rate for a highly technical document?
What is a decent range of per hour rate for a highly technical document?
How do you handle a dilema like I experienced?
P.S. I am new in this business and not a member yet, so I can't view blue board info.

Thanks a bunch!


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 01:05
Dutch to English
+ ...
General, specialised, highly specialised ....... Nov 7, 2006

gracesunny wrote:

Dear fellow translators,

I work with English and Chinese pair. Recently, I have to use per word rate to quote instead of hourly rate for a highly technical documents, which require professional working experience in that field.

It takes a lot of time do it with professional high quality. Though I was able to quote with a decent cents/word rate, but consider the time I spent in translatin and final review, I am actually working with low hourly rate.

I wonder what is a decent range of a per word rate for a highly technical document?
What is a decent range of per hour rate for a highly technical document?
How do you handle a dilema like I experienced?
P.S. I am new in this business and not a member yet, so I can't view blue board info.

Thanks a bunch!


Hi Grace,

Regardless of whether you're charging per hour or per word, you should consider adapting your rate accordingly for general, specialised and highly specialised projects.

If you charge a flat rate for all projects, obviously you're going to be earning far less per hour for a demanding text, as the more research you need to do, the slower you go.

However, bear in mind that you shouldn't be educating yourself at your client's expense either - it's unethical to take on work you're not qualified to do, but there's nothing wrong with a challenge if you are confident, after seeing the text, you can handle it as a professional translator.

I can't speak for many other fields but in law, for example, I apply a different rate to:

Standard Contracts - which I classify as general, most (legal) translators can handle these and it would be folly to try and charge the same as I do for a highly specialised text as I'd price myself out of the market;
Judgments - which I normally classify as specialised as, depending on the subject matter, many require or benefit from a thorough understanding of the legal principles at play; and
Academic texts/opinions - which I normally classify as highly specialised, I personally don't see how anyone without solid legal training or exceptional skills/experience can translate many of these. I only know a handful of translators who can.

This classification is not watertight, when I say standard contract, I mean "run of the mill", obviously a contract can fall into any of the other categories too, depending on specific content.

Probably because I have practised as a lawyer, I have the mindset to focus on the hourly bottom line. I have a figure below which I'm not prepared to work per hour, which I convert into a word rate, knowing quite accurately how long a particular project will take. That comes with practice and specialising.

For this reason, it's always very important to see a document (or, at the very least, a good extract from it) before quoting.

Hope this helps
D






[Edited at 2006-11-07 10:20]


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Hynek Palatin  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 02:05
Member (2003)
English to Czech
+ ...
Rates Nov 7, 2006

I wonder what is a decent range of a per word rate for a highly technical document?
What is a decent range of per hour rate for a highly technical document?
How do you handle a dilema like I experienced?


I would set my target income and calculate the per hour rate, which should be the same for all kinds of jobs (difficult jobs take more time, so you earn more). Then I would calculate the per word rate for "normal" and "difficult" jobs based on my speed. (For example, in IT it is common to use different rates for documentation and software.) If the rate is too high for the outsourcer, I would try to increase my productivity.

You can use the rates calculator:
http://www.proz.com/ratecalculator

P.S. I am new in this business and not a member yet, so I can't view blue board info.


You can't see the community rates in Blue Board. But you are right that they are available to site members only. More info:
http://www.proz.com/faq/rates#rates_view


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peiling  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 02:05
Partial member (2006)
Chinese to English
+ ...
It's convertible. Nov 7, 2006

It sounds like you already have a working hourly rate? Divide that by the approximate number of words you can do per hour and you'll get your rate per word.
An easier way to do it would be:
Total hours spent on this project X Your hourly rate = A
A/Total number of words = Your approx. rate per word for this type of projects
You are, of course, free to tweak it according to the projects/clients/other factors you might want to take into account (more/less technical than usual etc).

gracesunny wrote:
Recently, I have to use per word rate to quote instead of hourly rate for a highly technical documents, which require professional working experience in that field.



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gracesunny
Local time: 17:05
English to Chinese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
thank you: your insights are very helpful Nov 12, 2006

Hi, D, Hynek and PeiLing,

Thank you for sharing with me your solid opinion and useful resource in a timely fasion. I will do a better job in quoting next time. Your time and kindness is very appreciated!

Grace


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