Translation Pricing: Japanese to English
Thread poster: Gabriel Mendoza

Gabriel Mendoza  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:29
Japanese to English
May 18, 2009

What is the standard pricing for translation from Japanese-English? I have encountered one agency that was offering to pay me a couple of cents (USD) for every English word I produce. To me, this is quite a strange way to quite for a translation job. Isn't it supposed to be the other way around? Charge per Japanese char/word in the source file?


conejo  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:29
Member (2003)
Japanese to English
+ ...
Pricing methods vary by agency May 18, 2009

It really depends on the preference of the agency.

Some agencies adhere to a strict policy of only quoting and paying based on Japanese source characters (日本語=3 Japanese source characters), even when it doesn't make sense to do so, such as when the document is a scanned PDF that is not electronically countable, which usually results in the agency requiring the translator to spend time counting characters and making a quote, which can be time-consuming depending on the format of the document and how long it is. I have been sent 200-page scanned PDFs before, with different amounts of text on every page, and asked for a quote, which is a headache to say the least.

Other agencies only pay per English target word, which is OK regardless of the document format because you have to type the translation in electronically, and you should be able to count the words either using a counter like the MS Word count, or manually in some cases (in PowerPoint if there are a lot of text boxes that only have 4 words in each one).

However, some agencies that don't often deal with Japanese or who are not used to dealing with Japanese will send emails stating things like "I have a document of 4,000 words to be translated from Japanese to English", which is highly ambiguous. In these cases you have to be very careful, because often times they actually mean that the estimated English target word count is 4,000. In these cases I always ask them to clarify whether it is Japanese source characters or English target words before making any price estimates.

Rates vary, but unless you live in a country where everything costs only a fraction of what it costs in the US or Japan (like China or India or countries with even lower standards of living), $0.02 USD per English target word is not a reasonable rate. (In fact I think $0.02 per English target word is probably cheap even for China and India.) Working at that rate would probably pay about minimum wage per hour. If you live in a developed country/region (US, Japan, Europe, Australia), working for that rate would be like working at a fast-food restaurant. Just isn't worth it.

Rates vary by the practitioner. People list their rates on ProZ (you can hide your rates as well, but it still appears in the data tables for information purposes), and you can see the standard rates on the ProZ site if you are a platinum member. I am not sure if you can see it as a basic member. It shows a range of rates in general. Go to Jobs > Rates > Japanese to English, and you can see the rate range.

Hope this helps!


Gabriel Mendoza  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:29
Japanese to English
Enlightenment May 18, 2009

Thank you very much conejo! This really cleared a lot of things for me.


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Translation Pricing: Japanese to English

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