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General Audio transcription/translation rates
Thread poster: GregSmith

Local time: 20:52
French to English
+ ...
Mar 3, 2007

'Audio translation' jobs advertised at '$XX per hour' can be ambiguous.

For an audio 'translation' job offered at, say, $1/min, note that:

- One full hour of continuous speech contains roughly 5000 words in English;

- $1/min generally means $1 per minute OF AUDIO! NOT a pay rate of $60 per hour worked.

- $1/min (up to $4/min for complex recordings) is a common audio TRANSCRIPTION rate, i.e., roughly $1/83 words, or little over $0.01c / word. So if you type/transcribe at about 42 words/min, including listening & pause/play commands, you stand to earn about $30/h. And that's fast!

Remember, if you want to TRANSLATE 1h of audio, this is the same as translating 5000 words of text - requiring at least 10 times the duration of the audio file, assuming the voice is clear and intelligible to begin with, and without the advantage of popular CAT tools and word/phrase finders/locators in the source 'text'.

(Hint: put regular time references in your target text until you are finished, then remove them after proofreading)

The bottom line is - calculate out all possible 'interpretations' of a job offer before bidding.

[Edited at 2007-03-04 23:23]

Jose D. Leiva
Olga Koloko
Nesrine Echroudi

Local time: 00:52
English to Urdu
+ ...
Quite Realistic Mar 4, 2007

Thanks Kevin, for posting this 'to the point' and realistic analysis of a very interesting branch of our occupation. It will be very helpful to persons who are less experienced.

Just to add a little that if the transcription is required in some other language, meaning that the translation is also invloved, then the times involved and hence the rates will be different according to the languages.


[Edited at 2007-03-04 12:27]


ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:52
English to French
+ ...
My observations Mar 4, 2007

I am happy that this post appeared here - it will help many people who are just starting out.

Here is what I have observed in my transcription/audio translation jobs myself.

It takes 4 to 6 times as much time to transcribe good quality audio as the duration of the audio itself, depending on the subject matter, the pronunciation of the speaker(s) and how fast they speak. This will, of course, also depend on how fast you type.icon_biggrin.gif If you have 1 hour worth of audio to transcribe, it will take you 4 to 6 hours to finish the job. This, however, applies only with audio of good quality, which is nearly never the case... And, of course, if you also translate the same audio, you will have to calculate the time it takes to translate and add that to the time calculated for just the transcription.icon_wink.gif

I use this guideline to calculate, once I sampled the actual audio to be transcribed, how much money I will be paid per hour of work. Whatever the resulting figure, I round it down just to be on the safe side.

All the best!

[Edited at 2007-03-04 20:03]

Olga Koloko

Local time: 20:52
French to English
+ ...
Useful Mar 4, 2007

Yes, of course, Aburiaz. transcription and translation time & rates can vary from language to language.

It's worth remembering too that whatever the language, if the client requires 'direct' translation from audio to text, this cannot be done by overtyping, so requires the creation of a new document... in which case the time references would be worth keeping on record for future reference.

If the client really wants a quality translation, they will also require text transcription, without which their own QC becomes a lot more onerous (and not worth the 'saving').

Useful info, Victoria - 90% of my work is multilingual voiceover recording (I'm also a sound engineer with numerous music/multimedia/corporate productions behind me) and I most often have to outsource transcription & translation. So even my transcription 'example' was well short of reality.icon_wink.gif

Worth noting too, that translating for voiceover is also a specific field, where many read-acceptable characteristics (e.g. bullets) need to be converted to audio-friendly text.

[Edited at 2007-03-04 23:56]


Angela Dickson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:52
French to English
+ ...
methods Mar 5, 2007

These are useful points, Kevin...

I'm sure the agency in question has thought about this, but it struck me that hiring a native French transcriber and then a native English translator might be the most efficient way to do this. Rather than one translator to transcribe into what is not necessarily his/her native language, and then translate the result.

Even if a French transcription is not required, the process is the same.


English to Spanish
+ ...
Thanks for the advice Kevin! Mar 26, 2009

Thanks for the advice Kevin!
It has been very useful for me.
Unfortunately, clients seem to go crazy when they hear what an audio hour costs.
For example, about an hour ago I quoted 100 USD per audio hour of a legal transcription and translation from Spanish into English (that I do not even know if it's clear), which would be about 0.02 USD per word. Which I believe is a very good rate for transcription and translation. However, when I mentioned this, the client did not reply anymore and gave the job to an outsourcer, who will probably find some other translator who will quote a small amount without knowing what he or she is getting into. Risks: translation will be poor in quality and the job may just not be ready on time.
I guess that's just the way it goes in this business , right?
Thanks again for your useful tips.
Maria Jose Lopez Echenique


Birgitt Olsen  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:22
German to English
+ ...
Very helpful information Jan 14, 2011

This information has been extremely helpful to me when trying to provide a cost estimate for a client wanting this kind of work done. Much appreciated! If I end up doing this work, I'll add some (hopefully helpful) comments of my own.


Hany Adel  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:52
Member (2012)
English to Arabic
+ ...
thanks Jan 4, 2012

many thanks for your helpful information

best wishes


julianmariot (X)
Local time: 20:52
Italian to English
+ ...
USD 0.08 cents per audio minute Eng> Eng May 19, 2012

Hi all, I have just completed a 21 minute long audio file transcription for what I though was USD 0.80 cents per audio minute, instead when reading the offer again it was actually USD 0.08 cents... That basically left me with $1.68 for the whole job!

Considering it took me quite a few hours as I care about my work, I feel as if I got ripped the f*** off! The lady who offered me this job was rude about the rates too saying that I had misread the email, and that was the rate that had been offered - there had been no mistake in the decimal point's position.

Well, if anyone has had this problem I'd like to find out if this person is taking advantage of other members and people actually trying to earn a living...

Thanks for reading and look forward to your replies


Marie-Christine Nguyen  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:52
English to French
+ ...
Another "interesting" offer Apr 23, 2013

Hi all,

I had an interesting offer for atranscription: something around £1 per audio minute, but the audio was in French and transcription required in English... Which means that once you have done transcription, from French to French, you will have to translate it into English. The audio file, at least the test I was asked to perform (not paid), was very good , but very technical. So at the best it would have taken me maybe one hour in total, including review, correcting etc and that's fast, for a little bit more than 1 euro...


Local time: 19:52
German to English
I don't have transcription equipment Apr 24, 2013

Transcription secretaries use foot pedal systems, headphones and other equipment to help them with their job. Not to mention very high typing skills and daily experience with this type of work.

Clients who need a translation of an audio file should hire a NATIVE transcription secretary with the suitable typing and transcription skills to convert the file into text - they will be able to do this efficiently.

They should then pass the text on to a professional translator.

Minnie Hildebrand

Marie-Helene Dubois  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:52
Spanish to English
+ ...
I've found the same Apr 24, 2013

I once actually got roped into doing a transcription for a rate per audio minute. When I counted the words in the resulting text, I worked out that I would have been paid 8 times more for the job (based on the source text having roughly the same amount of words) if it had been a straight translation job. Since I take longer to transcribe/translate because of audio difficulties and having to 'guess' company/product names and then research them to write them out correctly etc. etc., I told the agency that I would in future be charging for hours of my time rather than audio minutes for translation/transcription work. I have never been offered transcription work from them since - which quite frankly is a relief.
However, I would suggest that this may be a good method for charging for transcription work. The job in question took me until 2AM because it was a conference call and lots of people were talking over each other and it was impossible to extract what they were saying and I would certainly rather have been paid for my time. As it stood, I felt ripped off.


Diego Achío  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:52
Member (2010)
English to Spanish
+ ...
My transcription chart! May 21, 2013

Hello all,

I am new in the transcription world! I've been looking for information regarding how much should I charge per minute and after reading your post I worked on a price chart.

But first of all, I'd like to ask you all something... For what I've read it is very common to charge 2 rates. The first is a per minute rate for the transcription, and after having the audio down on paper, you charge a second per word rate for the translation of it. Is that right?

At first I came up with the following prices to start offering transcription services. But it is a 1 rate service, so for the translation+trascription it would be a per minute rate for delivering a translated transcription. Please let me know your opinion!

Oh and by the way, it's in Spanish, not hard to understand for non-Spanish speakers but anyway...


[Editado a las 2013-05-21 22:53 GMT]

Tania Hoffmann

Germaine  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:52
English to French
+ ...
Mistake for mistake... May 21, 2013

julianmariotti wrote:

Hi all, I have just completed a 21 minute long audio file transcription... That basically left me with $1.68 for the whole job! (...) The lady who offered me this job... saying... that I had misread the email, and that was the rate that had been offered... no mistake in the decimal point's position.

This is totally ridiculous! How can somebody seriously offer to pay $1.68 for a "21 minutes" job? It cost at least six times more than that only to process the invoice and issue the payment!!!

I never hesitate to "pay for my errors", but in this case, mistake for mistake, I am not sure I would have delivered the job. Even at $0.80/min, it would have been a bargain. A good audiotypist would have charged her US$20, minimum, to do the job. I would have charged CA$37. So the "client" (let's be polite!) probably did make a mistake and simply jumped on yours. So much for honesty and fair play! Then, you wonder why some people frame the cheque, take a picture and put it on YouTube, FaceBook and any public place available!

Nesrine Echroudi

xxLecraxx (X)
Local time: 20:52
French to German
+ ...
be careful May 22, 2013

Some agencies try to lure you with "just a transcription (if this wasn't exacting's tough work), but you have to transcribe it in another language", which means that you actually have to translate the whole text AFTER having transcribed it. They think (or pretend) you can do it one the fly while transcribing, which is, of course, impossible. And a one hour group discussion for example will result in many, many pages of text.

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