Rates for transcription
Thread poster: Josephine Gardiner

Josephine Gardiner  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:18
Spanish to English
+ ...
Aug 17, 2016

Hello,
I just had a query about a transcription job (medical). I've never done transcription before and have no idea what to charge. Presumably it takes longer than normal translation. What do people charge in relation to their normal rates?


 

Elena Aclasto  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 20:18
Member (2015)
English to Italian
+ ...
It depends on the subject, but generally speaking... Aug 17, 2016

I am paid 20 USD per audio hour for general transcription, no matter the language ( I work for a company as a transcriber in the Italian language, but they pay the same for those who transcribe in English, French etc).

Just to give you an ideaicon_smile.gif


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:18
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
The translation is just one part of a two-part job Aug 17, 2016

Josephine Gardiner wrote:
I just had a query about a transcription job (medical). I've never done transcription before and have no idea what to charge. Presumably it takes longer than normal translation. What do people charge in relation to their normal rates?

A transcription involves typing a script of what is said in an audio or video file - IN THE SAME LANGUAGE. This script then has to be translated in the normal way.

The transcription part will involve you listening (ideally at reduced speed using transcription software), typing what you hear, probably stopping the recording while typing, maybe rewinding once or several times every few minutes to be sure you've got it all, researching proper nouns and maybe other facts... You'll also need to keep track of who is speaking if there's more than one person, note down any other sounds you hear that may be relevant and, if the client requests it, insert timestamps. All of this is going to take far, far longer than just listening - in my case I expect it to take a minimum of four times longer, to include a final speeded-up listening (the equivalent of proofreading). It can take as much as 10 times longer. Or it can be quite impossible, no matter how much time you spend on it!

If the client wants to receive the transcript along with the translation, then a further proofreading step will be required to weed out typos and insert correct punctuation - not always easy with natural speech, IMO. This can be skipped if s/he only wants to receive the translation (although of course it will have to be done at that stage).

Some people claim to be able to listen in one language and type in another. Maybe they can. I certainly can't. I suppose to some extent it will depend on the subject matter but I really don't see a high quality, carefully crafted translation coming out of that simple one-stage process. More like a written version of what an interpreter will say. In other words, adequate for communication purposes but not pleasant to read as little attention will have been paid to word choice or even sentence structure.

Edited to say that I only work on transcriptions in English, my native language. I'm sure I'd take a lot longer if I were to do it in French (and I doubt that the French script would be error free due to all those identical-sounding endings).

[Edited at 2016-08-17 14:27 GMT]


 

Josephine Gardiner  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:18
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks - I'll see how it goes... Aug 17, 2016

Thanks very much for the replies, both of you ...
Yes it does sound like a two stage process, more time-consuming than simply translating (it would be Spanish into English). I'm also always hesitant about charging by the hour, rather than for the job/word, because I'm never sure how long things will take. I'll probably do their test, see how I find it, and decide what to do after that. Thanks again.


 

Clara Chassany  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 21:18
Member (2012)
Finnish to French
+ ...
Just to give you an idea, Aug 17, 2016

it takes me approximatively 1 hour to transcribe 5 min of audio, from French to French (my native language), with a clear source of audio and a general subject.

I guess some people are much faster, but even if you type really fast you shouldn't underestimate the time you need for transcription only. A rate per hour is the most convenient int his case in my opinion.

20 USD per audio hour seems really low to me, I might be slow compared to other fellow workers but still, a transcription of 1 hour takes way more than an hour of work, especially if you also need to translate the dialogues.


 

Paulette Romero  Identity Verified
Colombia
Local time: 14:18
English to Spanish
+ ...
Per audio minute Aug 19, 2016

Transcription is usually charged per audio minute. My LOWEST transcription rate is $1.50 USD per audio minute. Just to clarify this is simply to TRANSCRIBE from ENGLISH to ENGLISH, no translation. If someone wants to transcribe and translate that would require a higher rate as those are two separate jobs and not one.

About a month I did a transcription test for a European agency and after the test they said I did really good job and asked me how much I charged. I told them $1.60 but they came back and said that their normal rate is $1 per audio minute. I very nicely reminded them that as someone with 12 years of experience I cannot accept that rate. They then came back and asked me if I would accept $1.50 per hour because they really wanted me on the team. I said fine, and that's that.

Since you're new to transcription you are, of course, free to charge whatever you want but if I were you I would not go lower than $1 per audio minute.

[Edited at 2016-08-19 04:56 GMT]


 

Georgie Scott  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 20:18
Member (2009)
French to English
+ ...
Estimating time Aug 19, 2016

Josephine Gardiner wrote:

Thanks very much for the replies, both of you ...
Yes it does sound like a two stage process, more time-consuming than simply translating (it would be Spanish into English). I'm also always hesitant about charging by the hour, rather than for the job/word, because I'm never sure how long things will take. I'll probably do their test, see how I find it, and decide what to do after that. Thanks again.


I know that you wouldn't have details for transcription anyway, and lots of people think I keep unnecessary amounts of data on the projects I do, but for awhile now I've kept a note of the amount of time I think I'll need for each project and the amount of time it actually took me. I keep a note of how much time I've worked on each project on a scrap piece of paper by the keyboard (start and end times and breaks) and have three criteria for estimating time (familiarity with subject, register/style of the target, familiarity with terms). Since I began keeping this information I've become very good at estimating how long projects will take me. And I know exactly how much I'm earning per hour.

If you need to hand in a script in the source language too I recommend outsourcing that part. Professionals who only offer transcription often have quite competitive rates as the whole process is much faster with a pedal and experience.

[Edited at 2016-08-19 08:13 GMT]


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:18
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Good points Aug 19, 2016

Georgie Scott wrote:
for awhile now I've kept a note of the amount of time I think I'll need for each project and the amount of time it actually took me. I keep a note of how much time I've worked on each project on a scrap piece of paper by the keyboard (start and end times and breaks) and have three criteria for estimating time (familiarity with subject, register/style of the target, familiarity with terms). Since I began keeping this information I've become very good at estimating how long projects will take me. And I know exactly how much I'm earning per hour.

I have an excel spreadsheet which serves the very important purposes of project management and invoicing but also, for minimal extra effort, gives me such statistics. I don't often do transcription work so I always need to look back at previous jobs before quoting.

By the way, advice to anyone new to transcription work: Never ever be tempted to give a firm quote without hearing excerpts from the entire audio file, however experienced you become. What can start out with one person giving a lecture in a studio (yawningly easy) can turn into recordings in busy streets, indecipherable non-native speakers, heated arguments, failing recording equipment that hisses and stutters..., anything can happen. Sometimes you can only refuse the job or give a ridiculously high quote in the hope that the client will go away, or else pay you enough money for your suffering. I've quoted €10 per audio minute before now - fortunately refused.

If you need to hand in a script in the source language too I recommend outsourcing that part. Professionals who only offer transcription often have quite competitive rates as the whole process is much faster with a pedal and experience.

This is one reason why I don't often do this sort of work. Understandably, clients don't normally want to pay a translator's rates for something that's more suited to an audio-typist. I'm not going to lower my rates just because they've chosen the wrong person for the job! It's also rather boring work - nice for a change, but not all day. Remember to ask the client's permission before outsourcing, though.


 

Lara Barnett  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:18
Member (2011)
French to English
+ ...
Review of rates for 2018 Apr 23

I have looked into this discussion as I am considering taking up transcription, after several years of translating. I am still at a loss as to what an experience translator should charge for the job of transcription of the source language, before translating it (for which I guess I would charge my normal rate).

So, to review this, what are people charging? I prefer to charge per minute for audio. Would 1.50 GBP per minute (at present) be a reasonable rate for the transcription part of a job? Or is the general rate people are charging lower than this (or higher even)?


 

LEXpert  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:18
Member (2008)
Croatian to English
+ ...
Rules of thumb Apr 23

LaraBarnett wrote:

So, to review this, what are people charging? I prefer to charge per minute for audio. Would 1.50 GBP per minute (at present) be a reasonable rate for the transcription part of a job? Or is the general rate people are charging lower than this (or higher even)?


Under the best circumstances, you might be able to manage 15 audio minutes in an hour. So it will take you at least (bare minimum) 4 hours to translate an hour of audio, but it will more likely take you 6-8 hours or even longer. So from that you can figure out if 1.5 GBP is high, low, or about right for you. Personally, I wouldn't touch a transcription for less than several times that amount, but then again I have absolutely no desire to make it a significant part of my practice.

If someone is asking you to transcribe and then translate the transcript, that means that you are probably transcribing in a nonnative language. That will also slow you down, and I've found that native transcribers are much better at deciphering things on audio.



[Edited at 2018-04-23 12:28 GMT]

[Edited at 2018-04-23 12:45 GMT]


 


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