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How Much Does A Translator Make?

Updated: Mar 22


The translation industry is huge, with a little under 700,000 translators around the world offering up their services. Translators enjoy fantastic income, which is partly why so many people get into the business.

If you're curious as to how much translators charge, this guide is for you. Let's take a look at how much translators get paid and what affects their income.

Different Countries, Different Rates

One factor that affects how much a translator makes is the country they work in. Even though translators often work remotely and on a freelance basis, that doesn't mean that they'll all make the same amount of money.

For example, a translator located in Germany earns somewhere between $21,000 to $50,000 a year. At the same time, a translator in India makes somewhere between $2,600 and $13,500.

When you look at salaries in the United States, you'll find that translator salaries vary between states. Sometimes a translator will make $20 an hour. Other times, they could make three times that amount depending on their location, years of experience, specialization, etc.

What's more, for United States-based translators, you can earn more if you have special certifications. When a translator has, for example, a certification from the American Translators Association, they can more than triple their salary.

The Languages You Speak Matter

Among the criteria for the highest paying translation services, the language pair is one of the most important. That's because the supply and demand for each language pair varies.

When there are more translators working in a single language combination, the rates go down. However, low demand for language pairs tends to keep the rates for those with translator careers pretty moderate.

Highest Paying Language Pairs

Some of the language combinations with the highest rates include:

  • Finnish-to-English

  • Japanese-to-English

  • Danish-to-English

  • English-to-Arabic

  • English-to-Japanese

The reason why these pairs are so high-paying is that there aren't very many language specialists available. Plus, there's a pretty high demand for these translation services.

High Paying Language Pairs

A few languages that still pay well but aren't quite the highest paying you'll find include:

  • French translations

  • German translations

  • Chinese translations

  • Russian translations

These languages usually require technical translation services for commerce and business. These types of translations cost more than conversational translations. As such, how much translators earn for these gigs can be pretty high.

Moderate Paying Language Pairs

There are also several language pairs that can provide moderate but steady income.

A few examples of these language pairs include:

  • Spanish translations

  • Italian translations

How much translators charge per word for these languages will be lower than how much they'd charge for the aforementioned pairs. However, they'll still provide good money thanks to high demand.

Flat Rates vs. Per Word Rates


Another factor to consider when thinking about how much a translator gets paid is whether the professional is charging a flat rate or a per word rate.

For Asian languages such as Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, and Chinese, it can be hard to charge a per word rate. That's because these languages use characters that can either make up words or parts of a word.

Translators for these languages usually calculate their payments a little differently. They'll often calculate pay based on the word count of the English translation rather than the Asian language document.

Another way that translators can work in these languages is to use a flat rate. These rates will vary depending on how much work is required to finish the translation project as well as the intensity of the work.

In the United States of America in general translation services are usually priced by the source word. In other countries, specially in Latin American, translation services are charged per the target word.

Charging by the source word is a very straightforward process and eliminates any guesses. You just multiply the number of words in a document by the source rate per word, and you will have the total for the job.

When using a rate by the target word, you will have to have the translation completed to know the final translation value. Some languages such as German and Spanish use many more words to convey a meaning. For instance, a Spanish translation from English usually grows 23%.

If time is of essence and translation is needed to be completed over the weekend, the translator will likely charge a higher translation rate regardless of the language pair or subject matter. Rush rates can be between fifty and one hundred percent more.

Types of Translation Services Affect Your Rates

There are several different types of translation services out there, and each one comes with different pay rates. Let's take a look at a few examples of types of translation services.

Literary Translators

Literary translators work with journals, long poetry, long novels, and other forms of literature. They make works of art available to global audiences and have to capture the creative essence of the work they're translating.

Literary translators have to make choices about which elements in the text they should keep and which they shouldn't. They have to fully understand the meanings and messages hidden in a text to help make that message understood in a different culture.

Medical and Judiciary Translators

These translations include judiciary and medical texts. Since they require an extremely detailed level of accuracy, translation rates are usually high.

Translators in this field usually have expert knowledge of the subject matter. They'll understand specific terminology and regulations so that they can provide accurate translations.

Localization Services

Many companies are expanding their operations and going global. It's a way for them to grow their market and reach new customer bases around the world.

As such, these businesses require localization engineers and language specialists. The companies pay translators across a range of industries to provide localization services during their global growth.

Simultaneous Interpreters vs. Translators

Many people think that simultaneous interpreters are the same as translators. However, these are not the same thing. Simultaneous interpreters are individuals who translate in person.

Simultaneous interpreting requires perfect language abilities, excellent communication, and fantastic listening skills. These interpreters listen to one language. Then they translate the language and relay the message into another language.

Simultaneous interpreters help facilitate dialogue between two foreign individuals. That means that they have to have expert knowledge of both languages in their language pair.

Know How Much Translators Charge Per Hour

When it comes to how much translators charge per hour, the prices vary. Translators can charge a fee based on word counts, hours, or even flat rates. The country, language, and type of translation also affect the translator's rates.

Now that you know a little bit more about translation services, are you interested in getting started with a translator of your own? Get in touch with us, and we'll set you up with a professional translator that's suited to your unique needs.


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