Rates for subtitling
Thread poster: Araceli Martinez

Araceli Martinez  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:15
English to Spanish
Mar 1, 2017


I am mexican and I have never worked on subtitling, but a client is offering me to provide training.
I should be grateful if you could recommend me the costing per hour of video. My rate is 0.03 USD per word on written translations from English into Spanish.

Thanks for you help.

Best regards,


José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:15
English to Portuguese
+ ...
I suggest you learn it first, then check Mar 2, 2017

A short story, just to illustrate:
Once a long-standing client of mine (I translated some 800+ videos for them over 20 years) had to subtitle a 10-minute video. I was AWOL. Though he had 30+ years' experience in top-quality video dubbing, after struggling with it for an entire weekend, the result was thoroughly unacceptable under any criteria.

Yet some people say that dubbing is much more complex or difficult than subtitling.

I wouldn't know in your language pair, however your text translation rate seems very low to me.

In any case, every translator - actually every professional - is selling his/her TIME while using his/her particular skills. Translators convert that into words or minutes of playing time, so that clients have an idea on how much they'll spend to get a specific job. This conversion - again, in any profession - includes both the practitioner's qualifications (skill, specialization, quality, etc.) AND his/her productivity, which are often intertwined.

I'd say you'll first have to learn to do it, then check your productivity/skill, and then convert the time it takes you to do it per unit (viz. minute of playing time in this case) into a cash value. Then you should do a reality check against what others who offer the same service with comparable quality charge.

In order to give you an image, assuming I were clumsy in the kitchen, if I were flipping burgers, my sandwiches might be too expensive to be marketable. Some would drop to the floor, having to be redone; others would come out too rare or too charred. My productivity could be low, on top of potential recalls. Hence it would be safer to check my skills on the hot plate first, before determining what should be my hourly rate for flipping burgers.

Yet, don't give up! Maybe you are a subtitling star without knowing it. I'd never get into video translation if that client in the first story didn't offer me the chance to try my hand at translating video for dubbing, back in 1987. We discovered a natural talent I had, which could have remained dormant for the rest of my life! However I did it first, and then we discussed how much that would be worth.


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Rates for subtitling

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