In Choosing between a freelance translator or a translation agency I provided a few hints on choosing between a freelancer and a language service company. I explained that anybody “can call himself or herself a translator since the title is not protected.” This situation has a deep impact on the way the translation market works. You will find translation agencies ready to offer you their translation services at a cost of up to 30 to 50% less than well-known language companies in the industry.
Let’s first set the generally accepted data that we will need to calculate the cost of a given translation project:
The data above provides of course a very general perspective of how things work. Senior translators will work faster with simple documents, and more slowly with very complex ones. Some of them will earn much more than $60,000 per year, while few earn less than $50,000. At the same time, smaller language service providers will have a lighter company structure and, as a result, lower fixed costs.The project
You have a 5,700 word document that needs to be translated. It is of average complexity (a brochure, for example) that targets your customers and prospects or the general public.Option 1: Translation and revision (editing) by senior professional translators
One professional translator will require approximately 3 days to translate your document. Since this content will have some visibility, you will want the translation reviewed by another professional translator. She/he will then need half a day for the review.
This option will cost the translation company $913 in variable costs only, and will cost you, the customer, anywhere between $1,300 $ and $1,800.
Option 2: Translation by a junior translator, revision by a professional translator
One junior translator will require approximately 4.5 days to translate your document. Because this resource lacks experience, you will absolutely want their translation to be reviewed. One senior translator will then need one full day to review the translation – in other words, revision will take much more time than if the original translation had been done by a senior professional.
This option will cost the translation company $945 dollars in variable costs only, and will cost you, the customer, anywhere between $1,400 $ and $1,900.So, how can some translation agencies offer their services at rates 30 to 50% cheaper?
There are many ways a translation agency can lower its prices, but there is no magic behind it. Here are a few frequent methods that are used in the lower-end spectrum of the translation market:
In summary, translation is a service that primarily calls upon human resources. You need people to do the work, and each resource is limited in capacity. For this reason, translation price is not as elastic as other products. From one serious language service provider to another, it will vary from 5 to 15%. However, you will find companies ready to offer you rates that are 30 to 50% lower, depending on the way they work. Your choice should then depend on your expectations of quality and, most of all, the risk level that you are ready to support.
Fabien Côté – firstname.lastname@example.org