This post includes partial results from the survey we conducted last month, which included questions about rates and specialties. We wanted to get a general picture of the translation industry worldwide, for which we gathered 400 answers. The respondents include translators and intepreters from all continents, specialties, and levels of experience. In today’s article, we will analyse how rates vary from one continent to another. Have a look at the information below and reach your own conclusions!

Respondents’ Origin

Out of the 401 linguists who filled out the survey, the majority live in Europe (55%). Answers coming from South America amount to 18%, and 13% of the input originates in North America. With regard to the rest of the continents, 3% of the respondents live in Central America, 4% in Africa, 6% in Asia, and 1% in Oceania. 

These percentages are relevant because only the data from Europe, South America, and North America allow for a reliable analysis. In other words, data from Central America, Africa, Asia, and Oceania are not enough to draw any conclusions.

Average Rates in Europe

Our survey asked respondents to provide an estimate of their rate per word in US dollars. The graph below shows that the average in Europe falls somewhere between 0.10 and 0.12 USD per word. 

It is worth mentioning that rates vary depending on factors such as field, complexity, language combination, delivery time, agency clients, etc. Therefore, the numbers above should be taken as reference only.  

Average Rates in South America

We’ve established that the information presented here is not to be taken as an accurate, invariable depiction of reality. However, changes in the average rate per word when moving from Europe to South America are certainly interesting. Take a look at this chart:

The information in the above graph shows that the average per word in South America falls in the range of 0.04 to 0.06 USD per word. Respondents indicating 0.07 to 0.09 were also many, though, so it would be safe to assume that 0.06 is the most usual rate charged by translators in this continent.

Average Rates in North America

The average rate per word in North America seems to be near 0.07 to 0.09 USD. Halfway between South America and Europe.

Final Comments

The numbers and averages we’ve just presented are to be interpreted as approximate and variable. As mentioned before, the factors that might drive prices up or down are manyfold. Moreover, the progressive increase of Machine Translation Post-Edition plays a role as well.

Another relevant remark is that trends in Eastern Europe differ from the ones in Western Europe, with the former scoring lower than the latter in terms of average rates.

Food for Thought

What do you think might be causing the differences in rate between continents? Do you think that the (bad) habit of undercharging might have something to do with it? Would you agree with the following statement in one of our previous articles: “Undercharging drives prices down and devalues the whole industry”? Let us know in the comments!


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