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Re: For translators : How do you calculate your price/hour?

Active Member
Giuseppe G Member Since: Sep 23, 2016
1 of 16

Hello freelance translators from around the world,


I'm new here on Upwork, and i have a simple question. It is the first time that i see that some clients ask how much a translator charges for his translations per hour.


I mean, usually i give a price per word. Like  '' X,XX USD/word '' since the price depends on the number of words.


I'm doing translations since march of this year, and it is the first time that i see this.


It's surely a silly question that i have here, but i don't understand how you can give a price/hour ... could please anyone help me ?


Thank you in advance !


Best Regards,





Community Guru
Rene K Member Since: Jul 10, 2014
2 of 16

Some clients think per hour only. In this cases, I usually just inform them that I work on a per word basis.


However, I don't mind working hourly. I have an idea of my speed because I track it (I'm using Timing on Mac), so I can offer hourly rates to those who really want only hourly, or in some specific cases where there is a lot of overhead.

"Where darkness shines like dazzling light"   —William Ashbless

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Active Member
Giuseppe G Member Since: Sep 23, 2016
3 of 16

Hello Rene,


thank you for your answer ! It was what i thought in the beginning, but i just wanted to be sure that i'm not wrong and that it didn't mean anything else ... even if my '' translation speed '' depends on the kind of text you have to translate. I had to translate a website for a Universal joint manufacturer and i had to spend some time looking for the translation of every technical word and it took me more then translating something more simple so i don't know how i could be precise in my hourly rating.

Community Guru
Nichola L Member Since: Mar 13, 2015
4 of 16

Guiseppe, I always work on a fixed rate  (which can vary) for translation. I find it almost impossible to work on an hourly basis because of the variables in any given translation. You might get a really difficult legal translation which could take a lot longer than, say a translation for an instruction leaflet. But I am sure  there are other translators who are quite happy to work hourly.


If you prefer working on a per-word basis and  want to bid on an hourly job, just let your potential client know what your working preferences are. I have never had a problem with this.

Active Member
Ana Cecilia D Member Since: Oct 6, 2016
5 of 16

How do you fix that on the purpose. Because my page only shows budget per hour. And another thing, I don't know if I am being greedy or if I am out of market for some time, but don't you think some fixed budgets are ridicularly low? Or do they negotiate after. I am sorry. I am in this website for a day only. Like: 95 dolars for 6000 words? WHat is your per word rate? I am from brazil and I am really not working since I had my last child, and trying to return now

THank you very much

Best regards,


Community Guru
Nichola L Member Since: Mar 13, 2015
6 of 16

Ana if you want to offer translating services, you need to address a few problems in your profile. For your languages you should put that you are native/bilingual in Brazilian Portuguese, and perhaps Metropolitan Portuguese, and put your English as fluent, as it is not at native/bilingual level.


As to fees, only you can estimate what your value is. I usually calculate my fee on a per word basis, which does depend on the number of words and the complexity of the text. If you charge per hour on Upwork and use the tracker, then you must be certain you can deliver the work within the time agreed.

Community Guru
Jennifer M Member Since: May 17, 2015
7 of 16

I quit doing price per word quotes. It's more profitable to charge by the hour and it accounts for harder text like white papers. Of course, I notice a lot of people don't understand what a white paper actually is.


I find if I give people a flat price for a word count range and then scale it up by the hour when they go over that range, it's better profit and accounts for variances in time due to unforeseen issues.



Active Member
Dagmar K Member Since: Sep 28, 2015
8 of 16

Hi, I am new to Upwork and I would like to do translations German > English - English > German. I am fully bilingual. I registered about 1 month ago but have yet to get a job through Upwork. I sometimes see crazy requests and I don't bother to apply. Could anybody tell me how much one should charge per word for translations? I do Community translations in Scotland and I get £ 13.00 per hour. I guess I would not get this amount on Upwork. I have had a lot of interviews and then people never get back to me. I find that a bit frustrating. At least they could say 'Sorry you did not get the job we found somebody else'. Is that common practise? Would love to hear from you. Dagmar

Community Guru
Petra R Member Since: Aug 3, 2011
9 of 16

Dagmar, It's hard to say "How much should / could you charge for translation" because it depends on what kind of translation, which languages you offer, which specialisation etc.


Some languages are "more expensive" (supply and demand) and clearly translating general web content will demand a lower price than translating medical or legal text.


There are clients offering less than a Cent per word, and clients paying $ 0.30 a word, and everything in between. The same is true for hourly contracts.


I don't take on new clients under $ 25.00 an hour, or between $ 0.05 and $ 0.10 per word, depending on complexity. In fact I can't take on any new clients at any price at the moment because I am working at or over capacity as it is (across 3 active Upwork ccontracts I have about 55 hours + weekly obligations).  I have one repeat client who I sometimes help out at $ 20.00 an hour but that is only because there is a history and I won't be able to do that for much longer.


But, I had to work my way up to those rates so I don't think many new freelancers who have no history on the site will have much luck getting those rates straight awyay.


It gets easier when you build up a bit of feedback.


I also think you need to work hard on your profile, it doesn't contain a single portfolio item, you've only taken one test, and there isn't really anything that would stand out to a client who may have dozens of applicants to choose from.


Wishing you good luck, don't give up, work on your profile, and that all important first contract will happen in due course!






Active Member
Dagmar K Member Since: Sep 28, 2015
10 of 16

Thank you so very much. This has been very helpful for me :-))) Regards Dagmar