The Rates for Translating Content Per Word

The Rates for Translating Content Per Word

Being a translator is something more than meets the eye. It’s not as simple as knowing just a few words, phrases, and sentences in another language aside from your native tongue. It is essential that you master the language in order to become an excellent translator.

Effective translators should be able to convert the document, passage, or article as accurately as possible. It should convey the same thought and voice of the original. They should avoid changing even a single sentence.

There are more than 6,000 spoken languages today. Learning even just one new language for most people is not an easy task. Translators have a huge responsibility and that is why they are considered to have one of the most important jobs in the world.

They help people from all over the world communicate with each other and they also help share knowledge, culture, and ideas. They can help keep us united and build relationships. Not only that, but perhaps more importantly, they can eliminate misunderstanding and confusion. With their help, we are able to accept our differences with other countries and understand them.

With a very important job like this, just how much does a translator earn? It is known that you can earn a huge sum of money annually if you are an expert in multiple languages. There is a possibility of earning more than $100,000 a year.

Translators typically charge their clients based on the number of words and its subject. The amount you will earn would depend on what the topic is and what language you’re translating. Here’s a short list of different rates according to its category.


Different languages have different rates. Languages that are not that common and hard to find usually have a higher charge per word. These are also languages that are a bit difficult to study like Finnish, Swedish, Dutch, and Japanese. Below are a few examples of the rough estimate of the cost per word depending on the language:

  • Chinese: 11 cents up to 15 cents per word
  • Spanish: 10 cents up to 17 cents per word
  • Japanese: 14 cents up to 20 cents per word
  • Finnish: 19 cents up to 25 cents per word
  • Greek:16 cents up to 19 cents per word
  • Portuguese: 10 cents up to 16 cents per word

If you’re only beginning to learn a language, it would be best if you choose one that you are really interested in and not just because of how much money you will earn from it. Choose one that you know you will enjoy and something that you can easily have access to.

By saying having access, it means you may know a few people who speak the language so you can get more practice and it would be easy for you to perfect it. It would also help if you study a language from a country you are interested in, or want to visit in the future. This would help make your learning experience more enjoyable.


The rate for a translator would also depend on the subject. Standard papers costs a lot less than those that have more of a technical content. If the material contains intricate words, then the cost would be a lot higher. Here are a few example of different topics and their rate per word:

  • Medical and Health: 15 cents up to 18 cents per word
  • Marketing and Advertising: 8 cents up to 10 cents per word
  • Personal or General:  7 cents up to 10 cents per word
  • Scientific: 12 cents up to 18 cents per word
  • Legal or Law: 16 cents up to 19 cents per word
  • News Articles: 8 cents up to 10 cents per word

If you are going to translate a document regarding a specific topic, make sure you are very familiar with it. You should know what certain words mean especially the technical terms.

If you are not knowledgeable with the topic, it’s going to be hard to understand it even in your native tongue. If you want to become more successful, it would be advisable for you to enroll for a course or ultimately get a degree


Like in any other job, the more experience you have and the more skilled you are, the higher the rate. An expert translator can earn more than 40 cents per word. That’s already $400 for a 1000 word document. You can’t become an expert overnight.

You need to work hard and never stop educating yourself. In some cases, it can take several years before you can consider yourself an expert or a master of the language. Do not hesitate to invest in classes and courses to make yourself a better translator. It’s a huge plus as well if you are bilingual or even a polyglot.

A polyglot is a person who knows and is fluent in more than 2 languages and shows a huge dedication on learning new ones. They study different languages not as a profession but as a hobby.


Being a translator can really give you a great income. Make sure to charge according to your experience and skills. If you really want to pursue this career, ensure that you have the necessary traits and qualities of a great translator.

If you’re a beginner, it is okay to start at a small rate and work your way up. It is also okay to start translating simple documents, such as maybe an email newsletter provided it’s not too technical, or even the occasional love letter; just make sure you get it right! This can also be a great way of starting your portfolio which you can present to potential clients.

If you are going to be working independently, do build a great relationship with your clients. This can definitely help you become a successful translator especially if they recommend you to other people. That is the lifeblood of any business.

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