Interpretation Services Rates – A complete guide

Language interpretation services rates
Elements for Interpretation Services Rates

As an employee or business owner, you know that effective communication is critical to the success of your business. When you conduct transactions with clients and partners on an international scale, language barriers add a level of complexity to achieving effective communication. Language interpretation services are a tool to bridge language barriers and achieve successful communications.

If you are new to the world of interpretation services, the prospect of handling multilingual communications in a high-stakes transaction can be intimidating. In this blog, we try to simplify one of the major aspects that you might be concerned about – that is interpretation rates.

How Much Does a Professional Interpreter Cost? What is the Cost of Interpretation Services?

Interpretation services rates are generally determined based on the following factors:

  1. The languages required
  2. The location of the meeting
  3. The subject matter involved
  4. Type of interpretation needed (consecutive or simultaneous, on-site or remote interpretation, conference interpretation)
  5. Length and time of the interpretation

1. Interpretation Rates Based on the Requested Language

The price for interpretation varies depending on the language or languages involved.

Not all languages are priced equally, and the main reason for this is due to availability. As language interpretation services providers, our first step is to check for available interpreters based within your locale or in reasonably close proximity to your desired meeting location. For less “exotic” languages such as Spanish, the second most spoken language in the U.S., the chance of finding availability is almost guaranteed which generally results in a lower rate for Spanish interpretation.

On the other hand, there are “rare” languages that are spoken by a smaller portion of the population and for which qualified interpreters are more difficult to find. This would factor into the pricing of the job and raises the interpretation rate for such languages.

We offer over 100 languages that you can choose from to meet your language interpretation needs. Within this extensive list of languages, there are groups of languages that are rarer and others that are easier to find available qualified interpreters for.

The key is to plan ahead, and the sooner you contact us with the language(s) you need for your event or meeting, you’ll have better chances of securing an interpreter for the language(s) you require. As an added value, you’ll have time to review and understand the price quote and get all your questions answered in order to make an informed decision.

2. Interpretation Rates Differ by Location- How Far Will the Interpreter Need to Travel?

Interpretation rates may vary depending on the location of the interpretation as well as the language required. For instance, rates for Spanish language interpretation in New York City differ from the rates in Charlotte, North Carolina. The reason for this has to do with the higher demand for Spanish language interpreters in NYC. Additionally, the necessity of interpretation equipment and technicians for larger-scale events also has an impact in conjunction with the city and location. Shipment of the equipment and logistics can impact pricing, especially in smaller markets where interpretation equipment is not typically readily available.

If we are unable to find an available qualified interpreter in your area due to the reasons identified above, we will, with your permission, expand the search to make sure the right interpreter, with language pair and subject matter expertise, is ready for you on the date you need. If extensive travel is required on the part of the interpreter to get to your appointment or meeting, mileage rates are likely to be included in the pricing of the interpretation assignment. Mileage rates may be charged at an hourly rate, or per mile.

Plan with enough time so we can have a larger pool of interpreters for your project and enough time to design and plan the adequate service for your interpretation.

3. Considering Subject Matter in Interpretation Services Pricing

There are several industries where a professional interpreter with specialized knowledge, experience, and certification is preferred and often required to render language interpretation services. Some clear examples include the legal and medical industries.

Interpretation services rates for medical interpretation take into account the unique skill sets and advanced medical knowledge that’s necessary for an interpreter to help a patient and their team of doctors understand and communicate accurately and effectively. These interpreters often possess a medical certification which they obtained through rigorous training, extensive study, and passing certification exams. Some hospitals and clinics require that a certified medical interpreter be present to ensure their patient’s needs are understood and met. In such cases, interpretation rates would be higher than they would be for a non-certified medical interpreter.

Years of experience in the field is another element that has an effect on pricing, as well as particular expertise within a field. As an example of an interpretation event we helped organize, a group of simultaneous interpreters was going to aid communication in a pharmaceutical symposium for an extremely specific set of products, and a background in chemistry was requested. Not only were specific interpreters handpicked for the conference, but they had to be flown from another city and had to read material to prepare for the 4 days of exchange of information. Language combination, location, the capacity of the interpreter to manage simultaneous exchange, in addition to the specialty, and the time for preparation affected the rates of the interpretation services for the conference.

Similar to a professional medical interpreter, the skills and specialized knowledge of a court-certified interpreter have an impact on interpretation rates for legal interpretation used during a trial, hearing, and court deposition. To ensure that justice is administered fairly during a legal process, court interpreters must be fluent in the language of law and abide by a strict code of ethics. Their job is to relay messages between involved parties in a strictly impartial and unbiased manner. The process of becoming a court-certified interpreter includes the passing of oral and written examinations that prove the interpreter’s fluency in both the English and non-English language, and the ability to transfer all meaning faithfully while interpreting. The interpreter’s ability to perform consecutive or simultaneous interpretation services has a role in the interpretation rates for the legal interpretation too.

It is evident that highly specialized subject matter and certification make a big difference when it comes to determining interpretation service rates. You’re essentially paying for a subject matter expert in the form of a language interpreter who is getting your message across to your audience the way you intend. But not all situations call for an interpreter to have specialized training. In the appropriate setting, a non-certified interpreter will be extremely effective in facilitating successful multilingual communication to help you meet your desired objectives.

It definitely pays to do your research ahead of time to determine if your business or industry would benefit from or perhaps require the use of a specialized or certified interpreter in specific situations. When in doubt, contact a professional interpretation services company and get a skilled interpretation coordinator on your side to guide you through the process of choosing the best-qualified interpreter for your needs.

4. The Type of Interpretation Service Needed Has an Impact on Rates

There are two modes of language interpretation services available: simultaneous interpretation and consecutive interpretation services. Each style is appropriate in different settings and thus, comes with its own set of considerations that impact pricing.

During simultaneous interpretation, the interpreter verbally translates the presenter’s message into the target language while the presenter delivers his or her message without pause. This form of interpretation is commonly used for live training sessions and multilingual conferences, and the skills required of the interpreter in these settings are of an especially high level. Because these events tend to be lengthier and larger in scale, two interpreters are often needed to split the workload to ensure the quality of the simultaneous interpretation is sustained throughout the event. Additionally, the incorporation of interpretation equipment and technicians are often required in such settings to ensure the interpretation process goes smoothly for all participants.

In consecutive interpretation, an interpreter waits for the presenter to come to a pause in their speech before delivering an interpretation of the message. Consecutive interpretation is the best fit for smaller-scale events including medical appointments, asylum interviews, and small group meetings. However, because this mode of interpretation includes frequent pauses for the interpreter to render an interpretation, the communication process takes longer than usual. Therefore, the extra time needed for the interpreter to be present must be factored into the pricing.

In summary, consecutive interpretation is typically the least expensive as it generally only requires one interpreter to complete the task. Additionally, there usually is no need for interpretation equipment during consecutive interpretations. Simultaneous interpreting tends to be a more expensive service, as there are almost always two interpreters as well as audio equipment in order to carry out the simultaneous interpretation.

Switching Gears to Remote and Over-the-Phone Interpretation

Thus far, the elements we’ve covered pertain to interpretation rates for in-person interpretation services also on-site language interpretation services.

Now we’ll take a look at the language interpretation services rates for remote interpretation and over-the-phone interpretation. One of the benefits is that the pricing structure for both modes is relatively simple and more budget-friendly. Both modes of interpretation are growing in demand and are extremely effective for a variety of purposes including interviews, online seminars, virtual meetings, and medical appointments.

  • On-demand phone interpretation rates: Phone interpretation is typically priced per minute of use. We offer on-demand phone interpretation at a rate per minute. It can be a one-time service or an on-demand service. For on-demand service, a one-time account setup fee gives you 24/7 access to a vast network of professional interpreters, and you’ll be able to select from over 100 languages to meet your needs.
  • Video remote interpretation rates: VRI or Video Remote Interpretation requires none of the technical work, travel, and prep work that’s required to host an onsite or in-person interpretation. This means there are no mileage fees, or equipment rental fees. VRI interpretation is easily accessible on your computer, as long as you have access to the internet. As such, the hourly rate and hourly minimums for VRI interpretation tend to be lower than the rates for in-person interpretation. VRI interpretation is available through popular video conferencing platforms including Zoom and BlueJeans. There are also more robust solutions that are needed for complex meetings, so it is important to discuss your needs with an interpreter coordinator. You can plan a Zoom Interpretation with professional interpreters accessing the meeting from different locations.

5. Length and Time of the Interpretation Effect on Rates

Both the length of the interpretation as well as the time of day it takes place will affect interpretation pricing. For simultaneous interpretation, assignments over an hour will require to have two interpreters, which will of course add to the overall cost of the service. There are minimums to reserve a professional interpreter, it is usually 2 hours remote and 3 hours on-site; there are also half-day and full-day rates. The time of day can also have an impact on pricing. Assignments that take place after business hours, or on weekends and holidays will likely see an increase in pricing.

Get the Right Price for Your Interpretation Needs

When it comes to determining language interpretation service rates, there are several factors that impact how much you could be paying for the service. Having all the information and the specific conditions and requirements for your interpretation with enough time for planning goes a long way in preparing and designing the best approach for your interpretation project. Knowing what language(s) you need and the location and date of an appointment help interpretation providers develop the best price to meet your interpretation needs. If hiring an onsite interpreter (for in-person interpretation) is outside of your set budget, remote interpretation options and over-the-phone interpretation could be the most cost-effective solutions for you.

At JR Language, we work to provide the best quote for your interpretation needs. When you come to us with a request for interpretation services, we’ll look for the best-qualified interpreter and make sure you understand the content of your quote before you make a final decision.

Contact us today with your interpretation request or questions. We’re ready to listen to your questions, offer options, and work with you through the process!

Scroll to Top