Translation rates per hour
Thread poster: Mariam Moaz

Mariam Moaz  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:32
English to Arabic
+ ...
Jan 31, 2017

Dear translators,

How can you answer to a question of a translation company about your "hourly" rate?

I don't know if I should write my rate for a standard page (250 words) even though a page can take me 2, 3 or 4 hours. Of course, I won't ask for more money if a page takes me more than 1 hour. So, does the actual time it takes me matter anyway?

I look forward to your opinion.

Thank you.


Diana Llorente  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
English to Spanish
They may be asking you for your hourly rate for jobs that can't be counted easily per page Feb 1, 2017

Hello Mariam,

First, if you don't change by the hour, then say so to them...

But there are jobs that are useful to charge by the hour; for example, I often change proofreading/editing/QA analysis or any other job which is not translation by the hour, because I don't know how long a proofreading may take. It depens on the quality of the translation.

Even for translations, in some cases I estimate the hours it will take me and adapt my rate accordingly.

In any case, your houly rate is easy to know. Take whatever you charge per page and divide between what it normally takes you to translate it in average, that's your hourly rate.

Is this what you were asking?

Kind regards,



Alexander Chisholm  Identity Verified
Italian to English
+ ...
Best estimate based on experience Feb 1, 2017

I know roughly how many words or pages I can translate in an hour (about 400 words - although it can be less for very clumsy text etc.) and how many words I can comfortably proof/edit in an hour (about 1000, although some clients think this should be more - so as to pay less - stick to your guns regarding whatever you decide, the client can always go elsewhere if they think they can find better and cheaper), and so I bill according to that. This means that sometimes I am very slightly over charging and most often under charging, it all balances out.

I agree that most probably, they are asking because its a task that they have difficulty assigning a per word/page amount for. I have also observed that the majority of my clients prefer per word/standard page rates for translation, and per hour rates for proof-reading and editing, but this may just be a generalization that I have observed.


Agnes Lenkey  Identity Verified
German to Spanish
+ ...
Delicate balance, sometimes really tricky to calculate Feb 1, 2017

Hi Mariam,

It is indeed difficult to find the right answer upfront. There are so many different cases, like Alexander says, sometimes you lose, others you win.

I think communication is the second most important thing after the correct execution of the translation itself, i.e. I have to explain to the client that even if its non-editable PDF-document only has 194 words, I will have to charge 30 € if I work for one hour to make a new PDF in the target language. The same applies to difficult menus or marketing: Just a few words, but a lot of time to achieve a successful translation.

The same happens, as Diana pointed out, with proofreading, because the client won’t know how much time you need for a correct fulfilment. I think the client really has to TRUST you, your services and your honesty, these are the key concepts related to “hourly rate”. As you say, if I work 2 1/2 hours instead of 1 in order to translate something which may be translated in one hour, for sure I won’t charge the client more than double of the “usually/correctly applicable” rate (although I am afraid no such thing exists anyway). Here comes the part with “sometimes you lose”.

General market prices in your geographical area will also play a key role in which hourly rate you can achieve/apply successfully and get clients – not losing them because of a rate that is too low or too high in the given circumstances. Plus: I think ones rate raises in time, definitely my hourly rate is higher now than 6 years ago, when I began to work on a full-time freelance basis. So patience to achieve a good hourly rate is also important. However, I work with direct clients – the new customers I always get by means of referrals and time is a positive factor in my case. I am sure with agencies it has to be different – your reputation is important, but PMs change, communication is not that personal, etc. In this case I would opt for a good hourly rate upfront, because there is not so much space to increase it in time.

Best regards,



Kay Denney  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:32
Member (Apr 2018)
French to English
you state the time Feb 1, 2017

I occasionally bill my time rather than the number of words, especially when there are technical or linguistic issues that will slow me down. It's basically the same as my minimum fee.

And it might seem obvious, but you are the one to say how much time the job took you. Sometimes an agency will try to dictate to you, saying that it should only take one hour. They mostly underestimate, just as they do when telling you that the file is easy to translate.

If I have to bill my time, I'll always deliberately overestimate, and tell the client there's very little chance of it being more than that and in all probability it will come to less. I'll also let them know if I see that it looks like it will be more. That way they don't get a nasty surprise and might get a nice one.


Mariam Moaz  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:32
English to Arabic
+ ...
Thank you so much, all Feb 2, 2017

Thank you, all, for your replies. I appreciate them.

I think I didn't explain my case well.

Well, it is an application form where I have to insert both my per-word and hourly rates. Both fields are mandatory; however, I didn't check any services other than translation. I mean, I didn't check any services that are better paid by the hour, like proofreading, for example.

I don't know if I can just leave dots in the hourly rate field.

I can try to calculate my hourly rate, but I don't think the result will be accurate. :/

Well, thank you for your help anyway.icon_smile.gificon_smile.gificon_smile.gif


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