How Much Does It Cost To Translate 1000 Words?

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Written by: pTranslate Contributors

INDUSTRY INSIGHTS | TRANSLATION

Translation is a necessary industry in our modern world. When globalization accelerates, more and more people from different countries have to come together and work with each other. However, the language barrier exists, no matter what, and it can cause a lot of misunderstanding, confusion, and trouble if we don’t overcome it.

Like any other industry, there are different tiers and levels in the translation industry.

At the lower end, we have low-quality, inexperienced translators. These translators can only translate basic, conversational content.

At the higher end, we have high-quality translators who can translate extremely complex, technical, scientific content. These professionals are trained in both their technical backgrounds and linguistic capabilities.

The higher the tier, the higher the quality. Pricing, as a result, also has to increase with the quality you received. There are a lot of other factors involved, too, such as the rarity of the language pairs and the field of the document.

how much does a 1000-word translation cost?

1. Low-quality translation rate per word

Low-quality translation is for clients who have a low budget. They also don’t have strict requirements and high expectations of the final translated version. They only need to understand the document in a general, most basic sense. Sometimes, they can even find a person they know to translate the document for free. These clients don’t want to spend much on the service, so the result they receive can’t be of great quality. 

For this level of translation, you can expect to pay from lower than $0.01 to $0.02 per word, no matter the languages. This price is incredibly low, and usually, only people from the poorer countries accept this rate per word. You can do a quick calculation to see how low it is. An average professional translator can only translate about 2000 words per day. At that rate per word, they only make from less than $20 to about $40 per day. They work for an entire day to receive the U.S. workers’ minimum pay per hour. 

You can’t expect anything from this level of translation service. That rate doesn’t allow translators to buy assisting technologies. They usually translate manually, and there can be a lot of mistakes made in the process. These translators also don’t have good background knowledge in technical fields, and therefore can’t handle more difficult and complex documents. 

2. High-quality translation rate per word

At this level, we are already dealing with professionals. These translators are experienced and can handle complex or sensitive documents such as legal papers or pharmaceutical product descriptions. Their backgrounds in the industry and their excellent linguistic capability allow them to charge at a much higher rate. 

These translators can charge from $0.06 to $0.20 per word. That is approximately $60 to $200 per 1000 words. Of course, the price varies by the rarity of the language pair. For example, English – Spanish is considered a cheap language pair because many people know it, and the competition is high, which drives the price down. Translating a document from English to Spanish or from Spanish to English is not really expensive. You can expect the price to fall somewhere on the lower end of the price range. However, for rarer language pairs, such as Swedish, or Arabic, the price gets much higher. German is also an expensive language due to its high difficulty to master and its increasing importance in today’s world.

Industry is another major factor in determining the price. Some industries are more sensitive, so agencies charge a higher rate. This is to ensure that the translator does the job with care and professionalism. In some rare cases, legal translation for major lawsuits can be as high as $1 per word to ensure the highest quality. Similarly, pharmaceutical translation is also a high-paying field, because one single mistake can cause tons of consequences on a large scale. Business translation, or tourism translation, is cheaper because they don’t affect as many people as the 2 fields above.

This is a much more reasonable rate to pay for translators. It is also to show respect for their education, their effort spent in the translation, and the mental work they had to do to find the right word to translate into. It is not easy, and the rate is acceptable when you think of the risks of having a poorly translated document. 

If your text has high visibility (such as marketing content or branding content), a single mistranslated word is enough to ruin your reputation. Major companies, like Coca-Cola and KFC, have suffered from translation mistakes, but they were financially stable enough to revive themselves. Smaller companies might not have the same fate. It is your money, and most importantly, your reputation at stake. For sensitive documents such as legal papers, witness documents, or health history, a mistake can potentially lead to misinformation, misjudgment, injury, and worse, death. Therefore, it is wise to find a professional to handle these major documents and papers. 

At this level, we can expect the translators to adopt machine-assisted translation. Some software allows translators to reduce errors and increase their translation speed. Although machines haven’t been able to replace translators completely, they still helped them a lot in their work. 

3. Localization, consecutive interpretation, and simultaneous interpretation service pricing

At this level, we are going beyond the normal definition of translation. Not many people have the chance to experience these levels of translation due to its rareness and being high-end in nature. 

Localization is a much more complex process than translation. It is, in nature, translation, but there are other works involved too. These include adjusting the localized content to fit with the cultural, technological, and other geographical aspects of the targeted language’s country.

For example, when localizing a website from English to German, there are a lot of things to consider. German is a fairly “long” language due to its linguistic structure. The same content in English can expand about 35% in German. Your images, videos, and other website layouts can be affected because of this. If you don’t account for these problems when localizing, your website design will end up looking terrible. 

Similarly, game localization is also a highly sought-after service. Game localization is not mentioned that frequently despite being an interesting part of the gaming industry. It allows the games to reach a much wider audience, but many localized products still haven’t taken into consideration the cultural aspects of the targeted language.

Taking on these projects requires both programming skills, translation skills, and cultural intelligence. It is incredibly hard to find people with these skills combined, so following the law of supply and demand, we have a rate from $0.10 to $0.30 per word.

Interpretation is a different world. It is translation in the spoken form. This requires extremely high mental processes and superb memory to handle the constant flow of information. These jobs are for the best in the industry and have a rate of more than $100 per hour for casual meetings and conversations. For formal meetings, national and international conferences, the rate can range from $200 to $1000+ per hour. This includes other expenses such as dinner, 5-star hotel accommodation, travel fees, and many more. These interpreters are seen as masters in their field. They are doing a job that almost nobody can, and it’s reasonable to charge such a price and offer them what they want to best perform their job.

At pTranslate, we strive to offer high-quality, professional translation services for business, technical, legal, and medical documents. We also offer localization services for websites, software, applications at a competitive price. With the help of carefully selected translators and industry experts who employ both their linguistic capabilities and technological help, we can help you overcome the language barriers and connect with businesses worldwide. 

You can have a look at our services and pricing here.

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pTranslate translation service global email marketing

About pTranslate

pTranslate is a translation and localization agency for businesses and individuals. We offer world-class language services at a competitive price and exceptional quality. Our goal is to eliminate the language barriers and connect the world.

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