Translation rates are generally calculated on per word basis. As a translator, you must be able to set your translation rate correctly if you want to make a decent living while maintaining your standard.
But how to calculate your translation rate per word? Well, it depends on your hourly output, on how fast you can translate a text or how many words you can translate in an hour?
Then, there is simple math for determining your per word translation rate. Take a sample project with a random word count. Divide the total number of words by time taken to complete the translation. The result will be the number of words that you can translate in an hour. Now divide your hourly rate by the number of words you can translate in an hour. The result will be your per word translation rate. This is the easiest and the most scientific way to calculate the translation rate on per word basis.
So let’s say you can translate around 300 words in an hour and your hourly rate is $30. If you divide 300 words by $30, you will get the result of 0.10, which will be your per word translation rate. Well, the per word translation rate is totally dependant on your hourly output and hourly rate.
Although per word translation rates depend on a number of factors, 10-15 cents per word is reasonable and the standard for most of the language pairs in the translation industry today.
If you are working with a specialized text, and you think you are an expert at it, your time can be more valuable. You can increase your hourly rate, which eventually increases your per word rate. Similarly, you can lower your translation rate if the text is simple as you can translate more words at the same time than the complex translation.
Well, the per word translation rate also depends on the workflow of translation. Although not applicable to all circumstances, you might get fewer jobs if your per word translation rate is higher and more jobs if your per word translation rate is lower. It is more obvious that the cheaper your translation rate is, the likelier you will get the job as there is always a strong competition between price and quality in the translation industry. This might not be applicable to rare language pairs.
As the hourly rate varies from country to country, the per word translation rate can also vary. The translation rate of 0.15 cents per word can be a normal rate for a country like the U.S. but it can be impossible for countries like India. So, it is important that you set your per word translation rate according to where you are based. You can add an additional charge for your translation experience, expertise, and rush jobs. You cannot set your translation rate such that you will have difficulty securing your livelihood.
Some of the translation agencies from India and other Asian countries even offer a translation rate of less than $0.03 per source word, which is not even enough for covering your monthly expenses. This translation rate might be the standard for India but it is very low for the countries in Europe and America. Actually, these agencies work with new translators and don’t even bother about the quality. A lower translation rate means lower quality as a quality translator can’t set the rate below which he/she can’t run his/her livelihood. You can ignore these agencies and better focus on finding direct clients altogether. Direct clients can pay you more.
Experience and education is also equally important in determining your per word translation rate. These two things help you gauge your quality. If you have these things, you are one of the qualified translators in the market and you can increase your per word rate.