Is this your first time buying translation?
If you are tasked to purchase translation service for the first time, like most people, you wouldn’t know where to start.
You have so many questions to ask but you have limited time to get all these queries sorted out.
Before we get to the main topic of how much you should be paying for translation, let us try to convince you why do you need a translation. Once you know the importance of translation, your objectives will be much clearer and this will help you prioritise your needs when making your final purchasing decisions.
Why do you need translation?
If there is one thing the Pandemic has taught all of us, is that to ensure the sustainability of any business, serving the domestic market is not enough. In fact, it is so limiting, it could spell the end for some businesses. As such, going global, reaching out to the international market is inevitable.
In today’s borderless world, we are faced with multicultural and multilingual societies where communication must be effective, efficient, and empathetic.
Although English is the most prominent language of commerce, the reality, English is not the national language for most countries in the world.
Speaking to your target audience in their language will help engage them in ways that English cannot.
To increase the acceptance and the take-up rate of your products and services in the international market, translation is necessary for effective communication between different cultures and people.
Where will you start with your translation?
The first thing you will do is to see if you can get your translation for free.
You try to do the translation yourself.
But when the task becomes too daunting and you realised that you are not the linguist you thought you were, you start to look around you to see if you know anyone who can do the translation for you instead.
You seek help from your peers and your colleagues. When you have exhausted this option, you turn your attention to your friends and relatives.
You turn to Google for help.
Starting for Google Translate to see if a decent translation can be produced. Your gut feel tells you that you can’t trust machine translation and you abandon the idea.
Someone suggested professional help from a professional translation or a translation agency.
Where you should have started looking for your translation?
In your quest for the right translation company to work with, your first attempt would be to go online and after numerous rounds of research, you narrowed your options to a few translation companies.
The translation companies submitted their quotations. Then you got really confused. The quotation you received varies so much, that your first instinct is to go with the cheapest. Then you remember that your document is very important and thus the translation should be handled by a trusted company.
Before you decide to work with the translation company of choice, you obviously would want to know how much you will be charged. You want to make sure you can the best quality with the least amount of money.
How do translation companies charge for translation?
Unfortunately, many translation companies will not list their translation prices on their website because translation charges are dependent on many factors and handling them require a very unique approach.
Similarly, if you can find pricing listed for some translation companies, you should be very wary about their professionalism.
The quality of translation can either make or break businesses.
The importance of good translation cannot be emphasized enough!
Just like all goods and services, you can expect to be charged very differently based on several factors:
- Experience of the translator
- Qualification of the translator
- Supply of translators for the language pair
- The location of the translator
- Timeline, etc.
You should also expect to be paying more if you are working with translation companies.
Just like all goods and services, if you are paying a very low rate, the likelihood of getting a bad translator or at best a mediocre one is very high.
Like doctors and lawyers, a good & professional translator is the result of many years of formal education and more years of on-the-job training.
Pricing Models of Translation Companies
The way translation is charged varies from company to company.
In general, you can expect to be charged based on the following methods.
Per word rate
This is the most common method and perhaps the most justifiable way used by most translation companies and freelance translators alike.
A translation project is quantified and charged on a per-word rate basis based on the total word count of the source document. Therefore, the total fee chargeable would be the fee that a translator charges for every word he/she translates within a given project.
The benefit of charging a per-word rate is that it is straightforward. The translation fees for projects are also transparent to you.
Although most per-word rates are calculated based on the word count in the source language, there are cases where the per-word rate is charged based on the translated words. Please take note that in some languages, the translated word count may expand between 20% to 50%.
What per word rate should you expect to pay for your translation?
In Singapore, if you choose to work with a translation company, you can expect to be paying between SGD0.06 to SGD0.35 per source word depending on the language pairs, the complexity of the subject matter, document type, turnaround time, and volume of work.
Per page rate
Some translation companies may charge based on a per page rate for certain standard documents and forms that they can reasonably approximate the time and resources needed. These may include birth certificates, marriage certificates, police records, academic records, and other certifications.
Per page rate is also more applicable if the documents are only available in hard copies or scanned copies such as medical records.
What per page rate should you expect to pay for your translation project?
In Singapore, you can expect to be paying between SGD30 to SGD120 or more per page of translation.
Although it is a very straight forward way of charging, the disadvantage is that the number of words to be translated is very much dependent on:
- The font size used
- The line spacing
- Whether pages are full or not
As a result of the above, there may arise a discrepancy in the effort required for the translation work and thus a potential disagreement in the charges and the deadline.
As with the per word rate method, the per page rate can also vary according to the language pairs, the complexity of the subject matter, document type, turnaround time, and volume of work.
Hourly rates are usually applicable for small, fixed-scope projects, updates, and revisions. It is uncommon for translation services to be charged by the hour on the get-go.
As hourly rates can be very subjective, the discrepancies that arise from the final charges sometimes can be disputed as the perceived effort required for the translation job can differ.
What per hourly rate should you expect to pay for your translation project?
Depending on factors such as the language pairs, the complexity of the subject matter, document type, turnaround time, and volume of work, the hourly rate can start from as low as SGD30 to as high as SGD100 or more.
The hourly rate can be a standardised rate applied across all languages or it can vary
Understanding Translation Pricing
No matter what method is adopted for the charging of translation, one major factor remains constant.
High-quality translation services will cost more.
When you work with professionals, you are ensuring that your content will be accurately translated to preserve the original meaning and context of your work.
In summary, the price range suggested above is only for reference. It is not cast in stone.
The price is very much dependent on a few factors:
- The number of years the company has been in the market
- The reputation of the company
- Is the company a general ISO-certified company or an ISO 17100 certified company? (ISO17100 being the globally recognised ISO certification for Translation Companies to ensure the quality of translation output.)
- The source and target language
- The specialisation
- The document type
- The timeline etc.
If you have not had any content translated before, the information provided above can help guide you in your first-time venture into the world of translation purchase.
If you still think that translation shouldn’t cost this much, we encourage you to think about the last time you come across a bad translation and recall your experience reading it.
Now, imagine people reading the bad translation and feeling the same and making a judgment about your badly translated content.
Good quality may cost higher in the short term but in the long run, when you constantly deliver high-quality translated content to your global audience, it will help grow your brand and reputation as you engage your global consumers.