Translation rate per word: Average & Prices


4min readtime

translation rate per word

Are you wondering what the average translation rate per word is? No matter whether you are looking for the translation rate per word for English to Spanish or you need to translate Chinese to English, knowing what the most common prices are and what you should expect will ensure you can accurately budget and find the best option for you.

That is why to help you, we have taken a closer look at what the average translation rate per word is and how you can find the perfect solution for your needs.

What is a good average?

The cost for a translation will depend on the complexity of the documents being translated, the delivery time, and the languages being translated. For example, the translation rate per word for a specialist or technical document could be far higher than a simple letter.

Translation typePer Word
Minimum Rate$0.12
Complex Topics$0.20
Common Rate$0.15 - $0.18

The American Translators Association recommended a minimum rate of $0.12 per word. However, this recommendation does not take into account the difficulty or languages being translated, so it should not be considered the golden rule. Typically, the more challenging the project is, the higher the translation rate will be.

While it might also be possible to find cheaper rates by working with a freelance translator or less experienced translators, it is important to remember that this could result in poorer quality translations.

Infographic Rate

Why not use a free translation by computer?

Of course, there are many free computer translation programs out there that you could use. If you have ever used Google Translate for a quick sentence or two, then chances are you found that the end result was enough to allow you to understand what the phrase was meant to say. However, this passable translation will not accurately portray the emotional undertones and context of the copy, which can make it very risky to use for professional documents.

The choppy results can make it hard to follow, giving your clients and customers a poorer experience and seeing them seeking alternatives elsewhere. So while it might be tempting to opt for the free choice, it can have a major impact on how you’re perceived.

How good should the quality be?

When it comes to professional translation per word rate, the general rule of thumb is that the higher the cost, the higher the quality of work. When working with an experienced and specialist translator, the end result will be a perfect translation that matches the tone, emotion, and context of the original, allowing it to be clearly understood by readers.

What is translation memory?

If you are regularly needing many similar documents being translated, then translation memory can be a useful tool. This is a database that stores everything from titles and sentences to entire paragraphs and segments which have been translated before.

This means that rather than needing the Chinese to English translation rate per word for your entire document, you could instead just opt for the new sections of your document. This makes the process far more efficient and quicker.

By the way, we have a localization software with translation memory function in our ecosystem. We recommend that you utilize this type of software to streamline your translation process. For further details, see the respective translation memory manuals.

How much should professional translators charge?

One of the most important things to remember when it comes to professional translation services is that if it is too cheap to be true, then it likely will be. You should be realistic with your expectations and budget, particularly if you are in need of technical or specialist documents translated.

While some professional translators will charge a flat rate, the vast majority would begin with the starting average of $0.12 per word, although this is dependent on the scope of the project. For example, a Chinese to English translation could be more costly than the same document being translated from English into Spanish.


When it comes to find a translator professionally or not, it can be tempting to opt for the most affordable service that you can. However, this will often result in poorer translations that could impact your business negatively. That’s not to say that higher costs automatically make better translators.

That is why when trying to find the right translator for your documents and needs, you should make sure that you take the time to read independent reviews. You should also ask for examples to see their style and results, allowing you to have a clear idea of what you should expect.


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