How much do Project Managers charge in a given translation project
Thread poster: TIFFANY CLEMENS

TIFFANY CLEMENS  Identity Verified
United States
Spanish to English
+ ...
Mar 25, 2013

Hi Everyone. I have a quick question. In coming up with a client rate sheet, what would a project manager charge per word or per hour in a given translation project?


Siegfried Armbruster  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:52
English to German
+ ...
What do you want to know? Mar 25, 2013

I don't understand your question.
Most PMs I know are employed by agencies, they don't charge, the agency charges. If you want to work as freelance project manager, just charge "your" hourly fee, where is the problem. I have no idea how high you value your time or service, and I have no idea how valuable your service is, so how can I answer your question.


Hin und Wieder  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:52
Member (2012)
German to Dutch
+ ...
Hard to tell Mar 25, 2013

It is hard to tell in advance actually. You get a project..or might get it. Sometimes you have hours of work and in the end you´re not getting the project, for different kind of reeasons.

I always trie to calculate the time I will need to communicate with both client and translator. What does the client want, do I have enough choice for translators in my database or do I have to search a new one.

I did a couple of projects now and I charged my client way too little. I had a lot of extra work but made a fixed price. Lessons learned!

In fact there is a gap between what translators get per word and what the client is charged with per word = the PM's fee.


Mary Stefan  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:52
Member (2006)
Romanian to English
+ ...
It's complicated... Mar 26, 2013


Hi Everyone. I have a quick question. In coming up with a client rate sheet, what would a project manager charge per word or per hour in a given translation project?

Hello Tiffany,

It depends: are you employed by a translation agency, do you work as a freelance PM, or are you self-employed?

If you work for an agency, then the translation rate is set based on how much the end-client is willing to pay for a translation. To this, the agency must add a certain percentage to render a given project profitable. You must keep in mind that an agency has to pay also social security contributions, health insurance etc. for its staff.
Usually - if we take the case of medium-sized and large agencies -, we must also think of accounting, quality assurance, sales etc.
Profit = Revenue - Cost

When I think of a freelance PM, I think of: "I am a PM and I work for a translation agency but not in-house."
This would actually be a great job if you want to peruse the other side of the pond.
Most reputable agencies will let you access their internal platforms, which opens the door to all their human resources in term of translators, proofreaders, editors, DTP - and this alone is huge! The same applies for any software necessary during your performance.

If you decide to manage translation projects independently, you must consider all prospective expenses incurred: Internet and phone use, time spent negotiating business terms and conditions with the end-client, drafting and reviewing proposals, your electric bill etc - any type of cost pertinent to the execution of a project.

These are only a few things to consider and the list is by no means exhaustive.
Try googling "feasibility plans", "self-employment pros and cons" etc.

Good luck!



Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:52
English to Polish
+ ...
The billable hour, the cornerstone of never mind Apr 19, 2013

I'd support the idea to bill per hour for strictly business services. If unattractive to you, e.g. because it fails to reflect the value you bring in, I'd consider a commission fee. In the translation "industry", a per word commission base could indeed be somewhat natural but IMHO a commission on the translator's fees would work great too, or anything a headhunter would use when supplying candidates for specific jobs (esp. short-term jobs).


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