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Translator rates calculator

The rates / fees a freelance translator needs to charge depend on various factors, including the speed at which he or she works, the income he or she desires, work-related expenses and so on. Use the online calculator below to determine your own minimum rates, given your working speed, expenses and lifestyle objectives.

Please enter your information
Yearly business-related costs1:
Desired yearly personal income2:
Working hours per week:
Percent of working hours spent translating: %
Average words4 translated per hour3:
Weeks of holiday per year:
Instructions for using this calculator:

a) Use any currency you want. Results will be in the currency you use.

b) Enter business-related costs as a yearly total. This field should include hardware, software, Internet connection, office space, business insurance, memberships, taxes, training, seminars, etc.

c) Enter your desired personal income expressed as a yearly amount. This would cover your living expenses, savings, personal insurance, disposable income, etc., and would be a pre-tax figure.

d) Enter the amount of hours per week you plan to dedicate to your translation business.

e) Enter the percent of your working hours that you spend actually translating. Don't forget to take into consideration such non-translation activities as communications (email, phone calls, chat), quoting, layout, file and document preparation and handling, billing, accounting, marketing, errands, training, breaks, etc.

Note: If you spend 2 hours in an 8-hour working day on non-translation business activities, then the percent of time you spend translating would be 6/8 = 75%

f) Enter your average words translated per hour, after adjusting for CAT tool use and other factors.

You may use units other than words (such as lines, pages or characters); results should be considered to use the same unit of measure.

Consider your net productivity during an average hour dedicated just to translation, as all distractions were considered in the previous point.

g) Enter the number of weeks of holiday you take per year. This should include not only leisure time but also days away from work spent in congresses, seminars, conferences, etc.

h) Click "Submit" to get the number of words you would translate per year and the rate you would need to charge to achieve your desired level of income. You may want to adjust the rate for jobs which will take more or less time than your average speed.

i) Two links are provided below the results: the first one takes you to the rates you have entered in your profile, while the second one leads to the site-wide average rates. Rates are shown by language pair.
Footnotes:
1. Computer and other hardware, software, Internet connection, office space, business insurance, memberships, taxes, etc.
2. Living expenses, savings, personal insurance, disposable income, etc.
3. Should be average words or count, after adjusting for CAT tool use and other factors.
4. You may use other units here.
5. This is the rate you need to charge, given your average translation speed. Adjustment to this rate may need to be made for jobs which take more or less time.


Notes / additional sources of information on rates:

Comments

Discussion about how to set your rates as a translator.


Pages in topic:   [1 2 3] >
User
Translator rates calculator

l Gaston l  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:34
Afrikaans to Ancient Hebrew
+ ...
Article on determining rates and fees Jun 4, 2010

The article Determining your rates and fees as a translator is meant to provide translators with helpful tips in answering the question "What rates should I charge?"

The article is a joint project of ProZ.com members and guests; all translators are invited to contribute freely and add their experience.


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Krzysztof Kajetanowicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 15:34
English to Polish
+ ...
note Jun 4, 2010

I admit that to the extent that the article compiles what most people here would say on the subject, it's a good summary.

However, I think it's a mistake to focus on the cost of living and what the translator "would like" to earn.

Economics a cruel science. Your aspirations and needs are hardly relevant. What counts are your options, as well as the client's options.

If you're not making enough, you can demand more. If the client has other options, you won't make more. If you thus find yourself unable to make enough money translating, are you able to do something else and make more?

If not, then living costs are a poor reference point. You will prefer to make too little than to make nothing. The cost of food is not a cost you have to bear in order to translate. It's a cost you'll bear regardless. If you choose between translating for little and doing nothing for nothing, unless your country has a generous unemployment benefit, you'll choose to translate for little.

If yes, very well - but then again, the cost of living is not a good reference. Rather, you look at the fact that the buyer is willing to pay because they won't get a much better deal (price/quality-wise) somewhere else.

Let the flaming begin.


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Dawn Montague  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:34
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
Krzysztof is partly right, but it's not the whole story Jun 4, 2010

Although Krzysztof is partly right (the realities of economics can be cruel indeed), it is not the whole story. From experience, I can tell you that if you can deliver top notch quality and service that pleases top notch clients (and you market yourself effectively to them), you will be able to say no to the low payers. It's as simple as that. It takes time and hard work to get to that point, but it can be done. I would suggest also reading Corinne McKay's blog post entitled "Secrets of six-figure translators" at http://thoughtsontranslation.com/2008/11/12/secrets-of-six-figure-translators/, or any of Danilo Nogueira's articles on translator economics such as this one: http://www.proz.com/translation-articles/articles/298/1/Translation-Economics-101 or this one: http://www.proz.com/translation-articles/articles/327/1/-Are-you-Prepared-to-Meet-Your-Client?.

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Felipe Jendrysiak  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 10:34
English to Portuguese
Value your work and dictate your rates Jul 29, 2010

Hey,
I agree with Dawn,
Quality comes with price and further more agencies only offers extremely low rates and demanding top quality translations because translators accepts such imperative. Do not translate for little if you are a real qualified translator. If the professional values the career you won't subject yourself to work for little. DO NOT WORK FOR LITTLE. If everyone simply refuses to accept low payers (agencies) they will eventually rethink the way a translation work worth. If you translator prefer to work for little please do something like working in a bar. For certain that will be less distressing with less responsibility.


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AGDANE
Local time: 23:34
English to Danish
+ ...
Yes Oct 2, 2010


Krzysztof Kajetanowicz wrote:

However, I think it's a mistake to focus on the cost of living and what the translator "would like" to earn.

Economics a cruel science. Your aspirations and needs are hardly relevant. What counts are your options, as well as the client's options.

If you're not making enough, you can demand more. If the client has other options, you won't make more. If you thus find yourself unable to make enough money translating, are you able to do something else and make more?

If not, then living costs are a poor reference point. You will prefer to make too little than to make nothing. The cost of food is not a cost you have to bear in order to translate. It's a cost you'll bear regardless. If you choose between translating for little and doing nothing for nothing, unless your country has a generous unemployment benefit, you'll choose to translate for little.

If yes, very well - but then again, the cost of living is not a good reference. Rather, you look at the fact that the buyer is willing to pay because they won't get a much better deal (price/quality-wise) somewhere else.

Let the flaming begin.


That is precisely right. The only thing that determines the price is what the buyer is willing to pay.

Although of course, in the long course living costs should theoretically affect the rate for translation, because translators being paid less that they could subside on would supposedly leave the profession (or sleep under bridges), and thereby lower supply relative to demand. However, that is not really relevant to price setting for the individual who needs the projects.

[Edited at 2010-10-02 00:23 GMT]


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jferedo  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:34
Hungarian to English
+ ...
Felipe is absolutely right. Nov 9, 2010

Too many newcomers believe that they are translators (on the basis of speaking more than one language) and accept jobs for next to nothing. Stick to your price. If agencies want quality, they will pay the price or ask for proofreading. Never accept proofreading without seeing a sample. My long-term customers all went through this and now I have no problem (or not too much).

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VFernando
Indonesia
Local time: 20:34
English to Indonesian
good to read... Jan 2, 2011

all yours are "good sentences"... let's say I'm not so much of a good translator... and still trying to step into this translator's world, seeking hope for a better future, doing what I THINK I could do.. reading felipe's and dawn's has given me some sort of hope and self-confidence, though krzysztof's might also be right to the contexts that in the real life, things just don't go well by doing the calculation of how much do you want to earn or else... so, I'm not saying which one is preferable... all of your sentences are good to read and learn...

cheers

-V-


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John Holloway  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 15:34
Member (2010)
Dutch to English
+ ...
rate per hour in the calculator Jan 27, 2011

If hourly rate was included it would be handy. This also lets you see when you should stop translating and take up garbage removal or similar as the rate´s better! I think a good sign is that, provided your overheads are low (and one must remember to depreciate capital investment over 3 to 5 years), translating can deliver a livable (freelance) income - comparable, say to teaching, nursing and other (somewhat underpaid) professions. It´s a viable departure point, from which to build a (somewhat) higher income as you get better at it. As a (re-) starter in the field I find this consoling! At least it´s a field in which there´s constant demand!

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Morten Alme

English to Norwegian
Thank you for a good input May 27, 2011


Krzysztof Kajetanowicz wrote:

I admit that to the extent that the article compiles what most people here would say on the subject, it's a good summary.

However, I think it's a mistake to focus on the cost of living and what the translator "would like" to earn.

Economics a cruel science. Your aspirations and needs are hardly relevant. What counts are your options, as well as the client's options.

If you're not making enough, you can demand more. If the client has other options, you won't make more. If you thus find yourself unable to make enough money translating, are you able to do something else and make more?

If not, then living costs are a poor reference point. You will prefer to make too little than to make nothing. The cost of food is not a cost you have to bear in order to translate. It's a cost you'll bear regardless. If you choose between translating for little and doing nothing for nothing, unless your country has a generous unemployment benefit, you'll choose to translate for little.

If yes, very well - but then again, the cost of living is not a good reference. Rather, you look at the fact that the buyer is willing to pay because they won't get a much better deal (price/quality-wise) somewhere else.

Let the flaming begin.


It seems hard to put a price on words. As a freelancer new to this business, some good advice is highly appreciated....


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 15:34
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
At the risk of repeating what the wiki article says May 27, 2011


Moral26 wrote:
It seems hard to put a price on words. As a freelancer new to this business, some good advice is highly appreciated...


Options:

1. Charge what other people in your language combination charge (for that, you need to do some research into what other people charge).

2.1 Assume (as a beginner) that you can do 300 words per hour and that you would be busy 3 hours a day, 3 days a week, 3 weeks a month.
2.2 Decide how much money you would like to earn per month, and then multiply that by 3 (to make up for taxes, insurance, etc).
2.3 Then... then divide that amount by the number of words that you would be able to translate in that month.

3. Let your clients decide how much they want to pay. Say something like "I don't have a single rate for all clients -- why don't you start by telling me what you think is reasonable". Good agencies will offer you what is reasonable, bad agencies will take advantage of you, but either way, you'll learn a lot about money and the value of translation.

Lastly, find a good average between all of the above, play with the numbers, and adjust your expectations accordingly.

Oh, and don't forget that some clients in some countries are willing to pay more (or are unwilling to pay less) than some clients in some other countries. And don't forget that once you've asked a certain rate for a certain client, it is nearly impossible to increase it later (except a little bit).




[Edited at 2011-05-27 07:39 GMT]


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Morten Alme

English to Norwegian
Thanks for advice. May 28, 2011


Samuel Murray wrote:


Moral26 wrote:
It seems hard to put a price on words. As a freelancer new to this business, some good advice is highly appreciated...


Options:

1. Charge what other people in your language combination charge (for that, you need to do some research into what other people charge).

2.1 Assume (as a beginner) that you can do 300 words per hour and that you would be busy 3 hours a day, 3 days a week, 3 weeks a month.
2.2 Decide how much money you would like to earn per month, and then multiply that by 3 (to make up for taxes, insurance, etc).
2.3 Then... then divide that amount by the number of words that you would be able to translate in that month.

3. Let your clients decide how much they want to pay. Say something like "I don't have a single rate for all clients -- why don't you start by telling me what you think is reasonable". Good agencies will offer you what is reasonable, bad agencies will take advantage of you, but either way, you'll learn a lot about money and the value of translation.

Lastly, find a good average between all of the above, play with the numbers, and adjust your expectations accordingly.

Oh, and don't forget that some clients in some countries are willing to pay more (or are unwilling to pay less) than some clients in some other countries. And don't forget that once you've asked a certain rate for a certain client, it is nearly impossible to increase it later (except a little bit).




[Edited at 2011-05-27 07:39 GMT]


Thanks for the good advice. I saw Svens price list, and it gave me good pointers. Though I reckon medical translations are a lot more time consuming and technical than mere web content, literary or catalogue content.

Good point in letting the client put up an offer first, and then compare with the prices I already have.

I do remember being able to write about 4-6 pages a day while rewriting a short story collection a few years ago. And then I set forth to translate the main story to Norwegian. It was the same there. Between 3-6 pages a day.

I gather I would be able to do at least a 1000 to 1200 words a day on the clients projects. And I range my prices from 9 to 13 eurocents per source word.

This seems to be something that I have looked for a long time, while struggling with my own writing. Except for deadlines, you are your own boss.

Again, thanks for good advice.


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Gabriela Hebin  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:34
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
300 words per hour, 3 hours a day, 3 days a week... really? Jun 11, 2011

Please, just look at the default values on this formula.

A newbie translator might see this formula and expect to support his/her family's lifestyle by translating during only 70% of their "working" time, yet expects to do so by only translating 300 words per hour. Of course he/she feels it is perfectly reasonable to expect 4 weeks a year of what amounts to a paid vacation, and then to only work for 3 hours a day, 3 days a week.

Hello??? ON WHAT PLANET can you support yourself working 3 hours a day, 3 days a week, 48 weeks a year, if you're only good enough to produce 300 words an hour?

THEN someone else chimes in agreeing that they can only manage to produce some 1000-1200 words per day, so the newbie feels justified in the presumptions.

REALITY CHECK: 1000 words per day is NOT a professional rate of production! All of the translators who I work with can produce a minimum of 4000 words per day, some of them up to 8000, so let's get real here. Step it up.

What is the amount that you are willing to earn while you sit at home in front of your lapton in your jammies?
What is the value of being able to watch your own children rather than send them off to be "cared for" by strangers?
How cool is it to be able to take a break from your emails to move your laundry from the washer to the dryer?
Or to water your garden between assignments?
What is the value of NOT having to wear a suit and tie (or nylons and heels)?
Of NOT having to commute X number of hours each week?
Of NOT having to waste the the gas and wear and tear on your car?
How amazing is it to be in touch with people from all over the world and not have to sit in some fluorescent-lit office listening to some yahoo spouting the usual office gossip and politics while you pretend to care?
And what could be better than to avoid ALL of those things and still earn MANY times more than what an office worker earns?

To me, that kind of freedom is priceless.

Please enlighten me, even in the most Socialist of societies, since when does 300 words per hour X 3 hours a day X 3 days a week constitute an effort to earn a living? A business owner always works MORE than a full-time employee, not less. Greater freedom only comes with greater responsibility.

Enough said.

I'm sure this post will create hate mail, but so what? I'm sitting at home making my own coffee and listening to the TV while I laugh at the flames from the newbies who can only translate 1000 words per day.


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Arianne Farah  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 21:34
Member (2008)
English to French
I read Samuel's post another way Jun 11, 2011

@Gabriela - from what I understand of Samuel's post he's not using the 3x3x3 as what a newbie should be aiming for but rather the volume one can realistically expect to obtain at the beginning of a career, the rest of the time spent prospecting new clients and firing off CVs. If a newbie makes his calculations based on a 40-hour work week chances are he/she won't book enough work to fill those 40 hours and the budget will be way off!

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Daniel Grau  Identity Verified
English to Spanish
Using a similar method to the rates calculator... Jun 11, 2011

... in this BMI chart:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Body_mass_index

I just determined I am over 2 meters tall.


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apk12  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 15:34
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Oha? Costs of living irrelevant? Jun 11, 2011


Krzysztof Kajetanowicz wrote:

I admit that to the extent that the article compiles what most people here would say on the subject, it's a good summary.

However, I think it's a mistake to focus on the cost of living and what the translator "would like" to earn. ...



No, I don't agree. Economists may think what they want to think and count whatever they count. If they forget this fact - that it should be a living translator, not his skeleton - actually the costs of living in the given target language country is a cost they HAVE to embed in their calculation, the translator won't deliver a professional translation from right of his grave.

The consequences, if economists forget that, are... translations starting world trips. With expectable quality afterwards. Well...




[Edited at 2011-06-11 13:06 GMT]


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