A Practical Guide to Establishing Your Rate

April 10, 2014
A Practical Guide to Establishing Your Rate

Becoming a professional freelance translator is a rewarding career for many language-lovers, but those interested in pursuing such a career are often stumped when it comes to how to establish their rates. Here we look at a few simple ways in which you can gauge how much is the right amount to charge. 

Do your sums

Firstly, sit down and do some sums. Work out what you would like to earn in an ideal scenario, then what you absolutely have to earn to survive. Calculate each as a monthly, then daily amount, being sure to build time for holidays into your sums. 

Decide how many hours per week you wish to work, then take the calculations one step further and you will have an idea of both your ideal hourly rate and the absolute minimum rate that you can charge while still affording to eat. 


  • Work out the minimum you need to earn to survive.
  • Calculate how many hours per week you are able to work.
  • Build in time for holidays. 

Check out the competition

Once you have an idea of your required rates, look online to see what your fellow translators charge. Be sure to take into account not just the language pairing(s) that you will be translating, but also any specialist skills that you have, such as legal translation or medical translation. 

Try to find as many rates as possible for translators with similar skills and language pairings to your own, then see how the rates you have in mind compare with theirs. If your rates are significantly higher, it might be that they are unrealistic. If they are lower, then you can either undercut the competition or raise your rates to match them. 


  • Check out your competitors’ rates. 
  • Take into account your specialist skills. 

Think about introductory offers

If you are just starting out as a translator, you might like to tempt clients to use your translation services by offering them a special introductory rate. If so, be clear as to how many hours will be worked at that rate before the price adjusts to your usual fee. There is no room for ambiguity when it comes to informing clients of your costs! 


  • Consider special offers to gain new clients. 
  • Be clear about your regular rates when offering price reductions. 

Speak to the big players

It is also worth contacting a few of the larger online translation companies and asking them directly for an idea of what they pay their translators. Mixing up work for translation companies with your own freelance activities can not only help in establishing your rate, but can also pay big dividends in terms of the amount of work you find ending up on your desk. 


  • Translation companies can help you judge your rate. 
  • Large companies may be a rich source of work.

Do you have any hints and tips to share about how you established your rate? If so, we would love to hear from you via the comment box. 

By Ofer Tirosh

Ofer Tirosh is the founder and CEO of Tomedes, a language technology and translation company that supports business growth through a range of innovative localization strategies. He has been helping companies reach their global goals since 2007.



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