How much should interpreting/translation services cost?


It’s as the old saying goes, you get what you pay for. However, what if you don’t know how much something should cost?George Washington on the $1 Bill

In the language interpretation profession, it is generally frowned upon to publish rates or to disclose them freely to the public. Not knowing upfront how much these services should cost can make it difficult to make an informed decision when comparing quotes from different translation agencies.

The following guidelines should assist consumers in understanding the range of fees typically charged in the area around Raleigh, North Carolina.

How much does a professional interpreter cost around Raleigh, North Carolina?

Note: An interpreter is someone who renders one spoken language to another.

A professional court-interpreter in North Carolina gets paid $35 to $50 per hour, depending on whether or not he/she is certified by the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts. A professional contract or free-lance interpreter may charge anywhere from $35-60+/hr, and a interpreting agency typically charges upwards of $60/hr.

It is standard practice for interpreters and agencies to require payment of a minimum hourly fee. For example, most interpreters charge a minimum of two hours, regardless of the time actually spent interpreting. Most interpreters also charge travel expenses, or may simply charge a flat fee to cover the cost of travel.

How much does a professional translator charge?

Note: A professional translator is someone who translates the written word.

The going rate for professional translators near Raleigh, North Carolina is anywhere between .09 and upwards of .21 per word, depending on the length and difficulty of material to be translated, and whether or not you are dealing with an independent translator or a translation agency.  Most translators also charge a minimum per page fee in the case of smaller documents.

The cost for proofreading documents usually costs a third to one half of what is charged for a regular document translation.

If the translator will be doing any layout or typesetting, expect to pay more, because he/she will most likely need to contract a graphic designer or other professional.

A professional translation agency will request to see the actual document before giving a firm quote, because there may be additional fees depending on the following factors:

  • Your relationship with the agency (ex: Are you a returning customer? You may get a special rate).
  • Volume discounts.
  • Any promotions, specials, or other discounts.
  • Any extra charges for document delivery, special software to be used, notarizations, etc.

Click here to purchase the American Translators Association’s Translating and Interpreting Compensation Survey.