Subtitling rates
Thread poster: jenbikkal (X)

jenbikkal (X)

Local time: 15:08
French to English
+ ...
Jun 30, 2014


I was wondering if you could share a range of normal rates per minute?

There is an old thread on this, but I'm not sure whether or not the info is still up to date.

Also, what do I need to look out for when starting out in this field, as far as money is concerned?




Anna Haas  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:08
French to Russian
+ ...
subtitling rates Jun 30, 2014


I can share the information I found in one blog.

The author suggests to count the time you spend on transcribing the text
(if you speak about this case and not about only translation of existing subtitles)

In this case you can use a scheme: one minute of video is equal to one hour of translation.
And speaking about one rough hour of translation, it can be approximately 400 words (always depending on the specialisation, of course, but let's say, roughly and it is in my case). And then you apply your translation rates.

Hope it is helpful to start from,
Best regards,


Paul Brown  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:08
Portuguese to English
+ ...
That which is normal is poor and unacceptable in my opinion Jun 30, 2014

Unfortunately from my experience subtitling rates are very poor. I think this is down to the reasons below.

1) It is the psychological impact of the pricing. When I first saw a rate of $2.50 for 1 minute of audio I must admit I thought it sounded fine. Then I learnt that even double that price is not worthy of a translator's talents. I think the average is higher than $2.50, but still well under what it should really be.

2) There are many more words in 1 minute of audio than people think; I find its normally 100-150 words.

3) It takes longer than what most people think to translate 1 minute of audio. It normally takes me at least 15 minutes.

4) Translation and transcription are two different talents. Clients and agencies believe that they should charge just a little bit more for translation than what they would for transcription. However, it shouldn't be like this. In my opinion it should be at least 3 times more because it takes 3 times longer and it is more demanding and requires more skills, qualifications and talent.

5) Subtitling is seen as more "fun and desirable". "Here, translate this interesting documentary, but we won't pay you hardly anything for it".

So, in short, I have tried to get into subtitling but I have seen some ridiculously low rates of around $2.50 as I mentioned. I have a gut feeling that the average rate that is offered is not far from this.

My advice would be to take into account that 30 minutes of audio is going to require at least a full day's work and it could contain around 4000 words. I would suggest defining your per minute rate on how much you would charge for 100-150 words.

[Edited at 2014-06-30 20:00 GMT]


LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:08
Russian to English
+ ...
I think it is usually $5.00-10.00/min Jul 1, 2014

Otherwise, you can charge by word, plus add a little extra for the extra time spent rewinding, etc.

45 minutes of audio takes usually the whole day.

[Edited at 2014-07-01 10:45 GMT]


Elizabeth Adams  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:08
Member (2002)
Russian to English
+ ...
Know what the price covers Jul 3, 2014

It's very important to know what the client means by subtitling. Do they want you to provide stl format with time codes, or just a transcript in MS Word? I think $6-8 per minute is average for subtitling. I would charge per target word for a transcript.


Local time: 21:08
Slovenian to English
+ ...
Try it and calculate Jul 9, 2014

Subtitling is a bit different from normal translating.

I suggest you measure how long subtitling takes you for e.g. 1 minute of video, and calculate from your hourly fee.

Let's say you want to earn $30 per hour and you need 15 minutes to prepare 1 minute of subtitles. In this case you want to charge $30 per 4 minutes, i.e. $7,5 per 1 minute of video. That's the net price, of course, that covers solely the actual subtitling.


Worapot Sattapunkeeree  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:08
Member (2012)
English to Thai
+ ...
Per word Jul 9, 2014


Subtitle translation consumes a lot more time than normal translation because:

1) it requires you to shorten the translation to fit in one or two lines,
2) it is mostly full of colloquial language which requires you to spend some extra time to do some research and verification, and
3) it is more time-consuming than normal translation because you have to not only translate but also watch a vid.

based on these, if you charge per minute of audio file, maybe you end up spending so much time doing it for just a few bucks.

Therefore, I would suggest charging a per-word rate for subtitle translation. I mean your regular translation rate per word.

Just a thought.


[Edited at 2014-07-09 17:27 GMT]


Michelle Fung  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:08
English to Chinese
this is a million-dollar question Jul 10, 2014

i was going to post a thread about this question.

just applied to a uk/us company today, it says in the email that "Our current assignments range between $2 and $3 USD per video minute."
BUT this company has their own cloud system / software, so i do not need to install any program myself.

the rate is way too low then i expected and i didnt have a lot of subtitling experience.

what do you guys think about this?

P.S i am doing from English into Cantonese.


jenbikkal (X)

Local time: 15:08
French to English
+ ...
Rates Jul 10, 2014

Hi all,

Many thanks for the replies.

Since I posted my question, I started working for a company in France and they pay 4 euros per minute of video (depending on the conversion that is about $5.50). I am satisfied with this rate, at least for now! But from what I have read online and seen around other forums, this does seem to be the going rate.


[Edited at 2014-07-10 13:31 GMT]


United States
Local time: 12:08
What film makers are charged by AV companies Jul 22, 2014

Thanks for the great info everyone! It's good to have this all here in one spot, and the voice of experience matters! That being said, I'd like to share mine.

I work for a US company that regularly charges film makers $8/min for English subtitles. $6.50/min is the lowest I have seen accepted for subtitles with guaranteed accuracy and timing. These rates are for creation of English subtitles with or without a transcript.

Translation + subtitles = $10/min for most European and other common languages. Translation + subtitles = $12/min for Asian and rare languages.

Production companies know these to be common rates for quality translation and subtitle work. We often outsource subtitle work. If done by bigger companies that charge us the low rate of $1/min, we expect major errors that may take as long (or longer) to correct if they were corrected. In most cases the customers who get subtitles for $1/minute do not care about the quality, they are only trying to have added features or meet broadcast requirements.

Many independent film makers contact subtitle companies for rates, so it's very common to have someone asking for a rate quote. If you are a freelance translator and subtitle creator, you might consider contacting companies to get a rate quote with different languages for a film you're doing. Who's to say you're not considering making your own film? Ask them about "economy rates" and "quality rates" and see how they vary, if they vary. Then just know that they expect to make some money as well. Consider that companies want to make no less than $100, assuming they are making money elsewhere on the job. Otherwise, they may only consider it worth their time if they make 20-30% above their cost (again with $100 minimum).

All the best to everyone! I, for one, appreciate quality work and believe you should be paid well for the attention and care you put in to your work.


jenbikkal (X)

Local time: 15:08
French to English
+ ...
With or without software? Jul 22, 2014

Does the rate change depending on whether or not you use special software? Since I'm starting out, I'm doing everything directly into word. I'm not working in sorftware yet.


Juan Pablo Sans  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:08
Member (2011)
English to Spanish
+ ...
I sincerely don't know how you get those rates Dec 29, 2015

I have never gotten 4 USD/minute for translation only. Oh, what a disgrace to be a Latam speaker!


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