determining your rate
Thread poster: davide isidoro pitasi

davide isidoro pitasi
Local time: 12:43
English to Italian
+ ...
Oct 31, 2015

Hi I am new on this site and would like to know if someone could help for determining my rate because I don't know how to do it?
Thanks to everyone for their support

[Edited at 2015-10-31 10:33 GMT]


Fabio M. Caldas  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:43
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Community rates might help you to determine Oct 31, 2015

Hi Davisi,

The community rates might help you to determine that, take a look:




ATIL KAYHAN  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:43
Member (2007)
Turkish to English
+ ...
Community Rates Oct 31, 2015

Like Fabio, I also recommend Community Rates, which is a statistical study based on a large number of translators located all around the globe.


Helena Chavarria  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:43
Member (2011)
Spanish to English
+ ...
And stay firm! Oct 31, 2015

Once you've decided your rates, don't lower them. What happened to me yesterday is quite normal, but it demonstrates that more often than not you'll be asked to lower your rates.

Yesterday I was contacted by a person who asked me if I was available this weekend. I wrote back telling them I was free and provided the usual information: CV, rates, services offered, etc.

It wasn't until I was sent the file (after exchanging seven emails) that the client asked me to accept €0.015 less than the rate I had initially given. They wrote:

Thank you Helena!

I'll send you the PO if we can settle at **.** EUR/word with the opportunity to increase the price in the future.

Awaiting your final decision.


Needless to say they accepted the rate I had quoted in my first email.


davide isidoro pitasi
Local time: 12:43
English to Italian
+ ...
average rates Oct 31, 2015

Thanks for the answers

I have seen the average rates and have decided to tell them to the client that requested mine


Gabriele Demuth  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:43
Member (2014)
English to German
I keep having to be firm... Oct 31, 2015

Lately I feel that clients or rather agencies who I am starting out with or have only applied to keep pushing in a way that I feel goes beyond normal business negotiation and is simply quite cheeky or taking liberties, e.g. accepting my rate and then without a mention applying quite harsh CAT reductions, expecting tiny jobs (23 words) to be charged at a word rate - we agreed something mutually acceptable in the end.

E-mails asking me if I could just 'help them out' and translate a couple of sentences (this I do for regular clients, but not for random agencies?!) - I stated my minimum rate and they surely found someone else to 'help them out'!

I am just finding this a bit rude and it happened quite a bit recently.

[Edited at 2015-10-31 15:56 GMT]


Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:43
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
The average rates are probably low Nov 1, 2015

The average rates are just that, and you need to look at the specific job as well.
You may or may not be able to see different average rates for different subject areas in your language pair(s). Try to work out a long-term policy for new clients - I hope you will find good new clients regularly.

As a matter of principle, I never go below the average rates, but I do not often manage to go a lot higher either!

If there is extra work involved, like preparing a translatable text from a PDF or formatting it afterwards, either charge a higher rate or charge extra for your time in addition to the word rate.

When you do set a rate, don't let clients think it is carved in stone and applies to all future work.

Many agencies like to agree on a flat word rate for all jobs, but if you find all their jobs are at the difficult and demanding end of the scale, set your flat rate accordingly.

I negotiate, and some clients suggest rates that I accept, so I get paid a range of rates.
Occasionally I write to my lowest-paying clients and tell them others pay more, and that I will be setting my rate up from a date a couple of months ahead.

I have gradually set my rates up for new clients over the years. It is easier to set a higher rate for new clients than to raise the rate you have been charging for years, but that is no reason why you should not raise your rates as you gain experience.

Best of luck!


Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:43
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Figures, figures, figures Nov 1, 2015

Whenever a newbie asks me in person and if we have the time, we grab a piece of paper and a pen and begin to make calculations. They help us establish a reasonable rate level which is not market driven, but driven on actual plans and expectations. By doing this excercie, the newbie know what rate he/she should always strive for and use as the starting point of any negotiations.

Basically, what we do is to list all the things that have to be paid over the whole working life of the translator, plus some savings for the old age, and then divide that by a reasonable working time (with a reasonable expectation about the volume of work one expects to get). After making these simple calculations, it is easy to get a price per hour one should ask for. That, divided by the number of words one can reasonable translate per hour, gives the rate.

More than asking others what they do, I think it pays to spend an hour making these simple calculations. The basic things one has to add to the calculation are:

- Cost of daily living: mortgage or rental, cost of food, clothing, electricity, water, Internet connection, cost of furniture, appliances, and other items you may need... Add a 15% for unexpected costs.

- Health, insurance, retirement: cost of your health+unemployment insurance, be it private, in a public Social Security system, or whatever. Add any contributions you have to make in order to receive a sustainable pension after you retire.

- Have family or would like to have one? Add your share of the costs of raising and educating your children and seeing them through to adult, working age.

- Professional costs: cost of all the equipment, software, dictionaries, continuous training, any courses or additional university diplomas/masters/PhD programmes you wish to take. Add the fees of professional associations and the cost of attending professional conferences and gatherings. If you work with a reviewer, factor in the money you need in order to use the reviewer's services.

- Transportation: have a car or wish to have one? Add the cost of the series of cars you can reasonably buy within your working time. Add the cost of any travel and accommodation you reasonably expect to have, i.e. holidays, travel for work or to care for your training.

- Savings: calculate how much money (either in property, in private pension funds, or in cash) you need to gather by the end of your professional activity so that you do not have to rely on the help of your children or relatives.

- Taxes: remember that your biggest single expense will always be taxes. Once you have calculated all the above for your whole professional life and have divided that by the years of professional life you have ahead, calculate how much do you have to earn every year so that, after taxes, you have the net money you need.

By now you should know how much before-taxes money you need every year. Divide that by the working days in the year (let's say some 250) and by a sound number of hours (let's say 8 hours).

Now you know how much do you need per hour. Divide that by the usually accepted, sustainable number of words per hour in your language pair, and there you have your rate!

You may argue that you can always work over weekends and holidays, and that you work more hours every day, but A) do not count that you will always have that much work and B) if you decide to sacrifice your quality time to work, it has to pay for you, right?

You may also argue that you translate more words per hour than most translators. If that is the case, good for you! You will be able to live with a higher standard and will save more for the old age.


Helena Chavarria  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:43
Member (2011)
Spanish to English
+ ...
To add to Tomás' very detailed answer Nov 1, 2015

You also need to have some money in the bank in case you encounter problems in regard to payment.

In my experience most clients respect your/their payment terms but once in a while there are unexpected delays.


Georgia Morgan  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:43
Portuguese to English
Exchange rates Nov 2, 2015

I live in Portugal but most of clients are in Brazil and this is now a problem because the Brazilian currency has lost a lot of its value. Do other translators work out their rate in the currency of the country they live in, and then convert to the currency of the job they are going to do? My prices have gone up by 40% in a year (for Brazilian clients) so I tell them to find someone local if they can't afford me any longer!


Local time: 13:43
English to Romanian
Hire an accountant? Nov 2, 2015

Tomas' post made my head spin.

Tomas, do you provide accountancy services? [grin]


Edward Vreeburg  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:43
Member (2008)
English to Dutch
+ ...
legal stuff is probably DOUBLE the average rate Nov 2, 2015

Especially if you are a beginner you seriously need to think about hiring an experienced, professional proofer to make sure you are on the right patch and have not made any serious mistakes, especially if you're not really a translator...



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