Help! How to charge for transcription and translation?
Thread poster: lcmolinari

lcmolinari  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:05
French to English
+ ...
May 5, 2003

My question has a few parts.

First off, can someone give me an approximate range of how many hours it takes to simply transcribe 1 hour of audio tape? Let\'s assume the quality is good.

Second part is, what is a common practice for charging a job that requires transcription and translation? Do you charge an hourly rate for transcription, then charge your regular per word fee to translate the resulting transcript? Or is it more common practice to charge a higher hourly rate to do it all? In that case, any idea of a range of hours to transcribe AND translate 1 hour of tape? How about an hourly rate range to do that (for North America)?

I realize the possible range of hours can be huge based on audio quality, type of translation, etc. but there must be some sort of guideline, which I heard once many years ago and have forgotten.

I need to give a client a quote and a timeline, so I do need something to go on!

Thanks in advance for all your help.


Erika Pavelka (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:05
French to English
Transcription & translation May 5, 2003

Hi Laura,

I would certainly charge hourly for transcription and per word for translation, but I would not do the transcription myself. I\'d find a transcriber to do that job and charge a slightly higher hourly rate to the client.

I think it would be logical do do it this way since most translators - I assume - would not have the equipment required for transcription. Give that job to someone who does and who can do it quickly, and then you just have to worry about the translation. Also, you\'d be giving the client a complete service so they don\'t have to find two different people.




Silvia Ferrero  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:05
English to Spanish
+ ...
charge them as two separate services May 5, 2003

In my case, it takes about 6 hours to trascribe a 1 hour tape because, let\'s face it, quality is never perfect. I charge this service per hour and then I charge my normal translation fees per 1000 words.

Hope this helps.


Johanna Timm, PhD  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:05
Member (2002)
English to German
+ ...
Charge separately for translation and transcription May 5, 2003

Hi Laure,

I would recommend you find out if your client requires the transcription typed, or if they don\'t need the transcription and are only interested in the translation (it makes a difference timewise).

I have done a quite few transcription& translation combos where the client was only after the translation, so I could work from my handwritten copy.In these cases the text was pretty straightforward, of excellent audio quality, and the speaker had a clear pronunciation( no dialect).

The handwritten transcription took me 5-6 hours per tape 60 minute tape(both sides.)

[I tried to type straight into the computer but soon became too frustrated with that- switching from the replay button to the keyboard took more time then to quickly grab a pen and jot things down- often in my personal shorthand.)

I charged my regular hourly rate plus the regular per-word translation rate.

I suggest you check the length of the tape( 60/30 minutes?)If the client needs a typed copy- charge him the time you need to type from your handwritten copy.

Good luck,



jmf (X)  Identity Verified
Spanish to English
+ ...
By the hour for transcription May 5, 2003

I transcribed/translated once and if memory serves me right it took me around 4 hours to transcribe the dialogue. This was 3 years ago, and I charged $30/hours with a maximum of 6 hours, but as I said it only took me 4 and I billed for 4 hours. I also used a transcription machine (with earphones and a footpedal to stop and reastart the tape) so if you have to stop it manually it will probably take you longer.

I charged by the word for the translation. So I guess a good estimate would be to charge 30-40/ hour for the transcription and per word for the translation.

Best of luck


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