Understanding the Factors That Effect the Cost of Translation Services

Pollion Team

As your business prepares to reach a global audience, it’s essential to consider the cost of translation services. Professional translation services are more crucial today than ever before. They can help your business reach new markets by successfully communicating your marketing materials and product details. But how much does it cost to hire a professional translation agency? 

In this article, we discuss the many factors that determine the cost of translation services. We’ll offer you explanations that are easy to understand, and we also provide tips on how to maximize your translation budget.

Different Translation Service Types & Their Rates

When it comes to the cost of translation services, it’s important to understand the different translation service types offered by a professional translation agency. 

Translation Service Rate

Most translation agencies charge a “per-word” rate for their translation services.  The translation service rate varies by country and the following factors influence it:

  • Language pairs
  • Volume
  • Turnaround time 
  • Subject matter

This rate is usually based on the number of words in the source document. However, it’s important to ask your translation service provider for clarification, as they might charge some languages based on the number of words translated.

Localization Service Rate

Localization services are another type of translation service that can determine the cost of translation services. A professional translation company usually offers excellent localization services; you can always count on the high quality of this company’s localization of your content. 

Localization service rates are based on various factors, including the following: 

  • Complexity of the target language
  • Feasibility of the language pair
  • The number of languages the source content will be translated into
  • The turnaround time
  • Word count & frequency of words or phrases in the content
  • Number of visual elements
  • The type of project (localizing a video game, translating multiple documents, etc.)
  • Project management (involves localization tools, workflow automation, quality assurance reviews, and more)

Transcreation Service Rate

Transcreation services are a combination of translation, localization, and creative writing (usually copywriting) that are used to translate the source content into multiple languages. It ensures that the brand identity, idioms, and more are carried through from the source material to the translated material. 

Transcreation services are usually charged by the hour. The more complex the project, the longer it will take, resulting in a higher cost of translation services. 

Machine Translation Post Editing Pricing

The machine translation post-editing service is usually based on the translation rate. This price can be 65% to 75% of the original cost of translation services. 

Content Types & Their Cost Implications

The cost of translation services also depends on the content types you want to translate. Following are some of the most common types of content that translation agencies, work on: 

Legal & Finance

Legal & finance usually involves documents of a professional nature and may include: 

  • Contracts
  • Court documents
  • Bank statements
  • And more

These documents require a professional translator who has studied law and finance to provide the most accurate translations. Legal texts are usually charged by the page, while financial documents are charged by the word. 

Business Documents

Business documents are those that are related to business operations. These can include: 

  • A code of conduct
  • Employee surveys
  • Company reports
  • Company policies
  • Training materials
  • And more

These documents are usually easy for translators; business documents are usually charged at a per-word translation rate. 

How to Translate a Document?

Marketing Material

They are part of a company’s marketing efforts and are used to promote their products and services. Marketing materials to be translated can include: 

  • Flyers
  • Company websites
  • Brochures
  • Social media posts
  • Paid ads
  • And more

The material requires a creative translator and is best done by a native speaker. Marketing materials are usually charged on a per-hour basis. 

E-commerce Translation

E-commerce translation services involve translating product details and pages. These services differ from marketing materials in that they also involve SEO translation. 

Website Translation

Website translation is the translation of a company website. These costs include the number of pages, transcreation, SEO translation, and more. The price for website translation services is usually based on a per-hour basis. 

Video Game Translation

Video game translation usually involves different translation tasks and requires localization. For instance, it may include voice-overs, UX (user experience) translation, help center translation, and subtitle translation. These services are usually paid for on a per-word basis. 

The good news is that a professional translation agency offers these and other services to meet your translation needs.

Pricing Units for Translation Services

We briefly mentioned some of the pricing units for translation services in the last section. Now we’ll offer more information about each pricing unit used in the cost of translation services. When thinking about the costs of translation services, you might say it’s something like buying gasoline, which is sold by the liter. 

Cost Per Word

Cost per word is among the most common units in translating source material. The translator counts the number of words used in the source material (they rely on word processing software to count the words). Once the number of words has been determined, the translators can give you the costs of translation services for your source material. 

Cost Per Hour

The next most common pricing unit for translation services is the cost per hour. Many professional translators base their cost per hour units on translating about 250 to 350 words per hour. 

Cost Per Page

Many professional translators and translation companies use the cost per page unit. The cost per page is most often used when the document is not editable; this is applied to DTP (Desktop Publishing) tasks. It’s impossible for word processing software to determine the number of words in the documents. 

Machine Translation – Cost Per Word

Once machine translations have been completed, professional translators handle the post-editing of the translations. The blend of machine translation and human translators ensures the work is correct and accurate in all ways. 

The rates are less than normal human translation. The biggest benefit here is that less time is needed for human translation, and it lowers the cost of translating. This method is useful, especially with large projects containing many word repetitions and cross-file matches. 

How do we determine translation costs?

In this section, we offer more information about how the cost of translation services is determined by professional translation companies.  

Project Volume

A translation agency will need to know about the project volume. Translation volume is the number of words in the source material, the number of pages, etc. Most translation projects are priced in cost per word. 

Project Complexity

Another factor determining the cost of translation services is the project’s complexity. For instance, legal, technical, and medical translation services are usually more complex than translating business documents. The more complex a project is, the more it will cost. 

Video Content

Video content projects tend to be more expensive because the work usually involves translating subtitles and voice-overs. In some cases, these two services may have their own fees. 

When these costs are combined, the project becomes more expensive. However, the cost is worth it when you consider all the work a translation agency does with a video project. You only have to give them your project, and they get to work! You can focus on more critical aspects of your business while Pollion handles all the translation work on your video content. 


Voice-over translation services also increase the cost of a project. Plus, certain factors may increase the costs involved, including: 

  • Specific accents
  • Filtering voice-over artists
  • Review actor samples
  • More time is needed for these projects
  • And more

Localization & Translation 

Localization takes more work when it comes to translating content. The content is translated and localized to fit the target audience. 

Localization is used on marketing content and website translations, among others.

Translation Type

The type of translation needed for a project also determines the cost of translation services. Translation type is usually more expensive. 

For instance, legal and medical translations usually cost more than general content translations. A professional translation company is needed because these translation types require translators who are trained in these areas. 

Target Language Scarcity

Another factor that determines the cost of a translation is target language scarcity. Target language scarcity involves a language that’s rare or complex. 

It costs more to do this type of translation work because it’s necessary to use a native speaker to work with a rare language.

The Reviewing Process

The final factor determining the cost of translation services is the reviewing process. The reviewing process involves the quality assurance (QA) of the completed translations. The translations are checked for the following: 

  • Accuracy
  • Quality
  • Consistency
  • Tone
  • Style

The costs for the QA part of your translation project may be more expensive if a native speaker is required to review the translation work. Fortunately, a professional agency offers native speakers for the wide range of languages they support. 

Ways to Save on Translation Costs

Save on Translation Costs

By now, you may be worried about the cost of translation services. That’s understandable; however, there are some ways you can save on translation costs: 

Using Translation Memory Software

Using memory translation software can lower the costs of translation. The software saves money by “reusing” previously translated content from other projects. 

If your project uses similar content, the previously translated text can be translated with the memory software. A professional translation service can translate the rest of the content. 

Simplifying Content

Complex content is usually more expensive to translate, especially material that’s quite technical or industry-specific. 

One way to save on the cost of translation services is to simplify the content and use everyday, plain language.

Using a Translation Agency

Using a translation agency can also save on the cost of translation services. They’re able to offer competitive prices, and it may be possible to negotiate lower rates on larger projects or an ongoing project. 

In addition, a professional translation company offers project management services and quality control. These services save you both time and money. Moreover, you can count on a highly accurate, quality translation every time. 

Planning Ahead

Projects that require a short turnaround or last-minute changes can be more expensive. So, it pays to plan ahead. 

Planning the project in advance and providing the translation company with clear instructions can reduce the time and cost of your translation.

Common Questions About the Price of Translation Services

1. How Much Do Translation Services Cost Per Hour? 

Most translators charge by word rather than using the cost-per-hour pricing unit in translation work. However, projects requiring revision and editing often have hourly payment rates.

The hourly rate tends to vary depending on the language pair, turnaround time, and the complexity of the project.

2. How Much Do Translators Charge Per Word? 

Translators commonly charge per word for translation projects. The cost per word depends on the language, subject matter (more complex topics will cost more), and other factors. Moreover, each language pair has its own cost per word, as does the subject matter.

3. How Much Do Translations Cost? 

The cost of translation services varies depending on several factors, including the language pairs, the type of content, the number of words, the volume, and more. 

It’s best to work with a professional translation agency that can provide you with a quote for your translations. Moreover, you want to ensure that the translation agency offers excellent customer service and highly accurate translations. You can count on both when you choose Pollion for your content translations. No matter what translation services you need, they are among the best professional translation agencies available today.


After reading this article, you now have a better idea of how much translations cost. You’ve also learned how translation costs are determined.

While translations can be expensive, there are ways to save money on your translations. Follow the tips in this article to lower the costs of translation work. But remember, you should aim for quality translations tailored to your target audience.

Thus, experts recommend hiring a professional translation agency to make sure your content aligns with your target audience’s needs and expectations.

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