3.5% of GDP. That is how much the UK's lack of language skills reportedly costs the economy each year. If your business needs to communicate with customers, potential leads or partners who speak languages other than English, ready access to interpretation services is a must.
But how much does business interpretation cost? Providing an exact figure here can be challenging because of the sheer number of variables that affect pricing. Let's look at the different factors which affect the cost of language interpreting in the UK.
The short answer – average UK business interpreting fees
If you are simply looking for a ballpark figure for experienced UK interpreters, you can expect to pay around:
- £50 per hour
- £350 per day
But there is a huge amount of variability in pricing for interpreters. You could end up paying significantly less - or far more.
When might you need business interpretation?
There are various reasons that a business might need to use an interpreter. These include:
- During a business meeting with a customer or lead.
- Event minders who accompany you around an exhibition hall allowing you to interact with people in other languages.
- Interpreters provide simultaneous translation of what speakers are saying. This is played into the headsets worn by attendees.
- Telephone or video call interpreting.
Factors that affect the cost of business interpretation
Interpreter costs will vary depending on a number of factors. When you are trying to calculate how much business interpreting will set you back, it’s worth bearing the following factors in mind.
Freelance or agency
Many interpreters today work as self-employed freelancers. You can find them on websites such as Proz where you can narrow down your search to locate individuals who speak the languages that you're interested in. Freelancers will typically charge anywhere between £10 and £100 per hour depending on their experience and the languages they speak.
The alternative is to use an agency. You will normally pay significantly more for agency interpreters since the company has higher costs. Expect to be charged between £75 and £300 per hour. The benefit of agencies is that they tend to be more flexible and will have people available who can speak many different languages.
Different types of interpretation come with different minimum fees:
- Conferences: Being at a conference means that the interpreter has to spend most of the day on-site and factor in transport and hotel stays.
Minimum fee: £350
- Business meetings: If you want an interpreter in the room for an important business meeting, they will charge by the hour. But the fee will also include travel. So even if the meeting itself only lasts 30 minutes, they may also need to add on up to two hours of travel either side.
Minimum fee: £100
- Telephone video call: This is usually the cheapest option since the interpreter does not need to travel, so you only pay for the time spent on the call or in the meeting.
Minimum fee: £25
An interpreter's normal business rates may be inflated for various reasons:
- Notice: If you need an interpreter at short notice (i.e., within 24 hours) you can expect to pay a surcharge off around 10-15%
- Out of hours: If you need an interpreter in the evenings or weekends you can expect to pay a surcharge of 50%
- Public Holidays: A surcharge of 100% is typical
- Times of high demand: There may be periods of particularly high demand for interpreters. For example, if a town has one very big conference each year, there will probably be a rise in demand and prices for local interpreters.
This is one of the most important factors to take into account when budgeting for an interpreter. Certain languages combinations are much more common. For example, there are hundreds of millions of people who speak both Spanish and English and so it is relatively easy to find interpreters for this combination.
On the other hand, there are far fewer people who speak both Danish and Telugu. You would therefore expect to pay more for this combination.
If you plan to discuss complex subjects in your business meetings you may need an interpreter who has a knowledge of the field. For example, if you expect to be discussing medical engineering topics, it might be valuable to have someone who understands the concepts you are discussing and is also aware of technical terms and how to use them in both languages. This will of course cost you more.
On the other hand, a simple sales meeting for a common product will require no special knowledge on the part of the interpreter, so will cost less.
Have you considered digital translation?
Speechly is a new real-time translation solution that can meet a wide variety of business interpretation needs. The application uses natural language processing to effectively interpret between 26 global languages.
Users can either wear a headset or speak into a device on the table. Speechly then instantaneously translates between the languages and provides audio for the listener. Here’s how it works:
- During a business meeting with her Chinese counterpart, salesperson Liz explains the benefits of your product in English.
- Speechly automatically translates what she says into Mandarin and produces an audio translation that Zhang hears.
- Zhang responds in Mandarin and Speechly translates into English for Liz.
- The two are able to have a smooth, reliable and clear conversation.
- A transcript and recording of the audio are provided so they can check what was discussed later.
Speechly will not necessarily be appropriate for all interpretation situations, yet it opens up opportunities for more fluid interchanges with customers and business partners around the world. Speechly is available 24/7 and you are only charged for the precise time the app is being used. What is more, all language combinations are charged at the same flat fee.
To save on your business interpretation costs, try Speechly today.