Medical translation rates

May 14th, 2015

Medical translation rates

Sales of pharmaceutical products and medical equipment are generally not limited to the domestic market.  This is why high quality translation is needed for all the countries in which the products will be sold. The translation of information leaflets and package inserts, clinical findings and reports, academic articles in newspapers and books, scientific treatises, as well of instructions for the use of technical medical equipment require expert knowledge, as well as medical, pharmaceutical and technical knowledge.  Translations in the medical field need a lot of attention and they are, in some cases, extremely demanding for the translator.

The text must be translated into the target language in a way which is not only technically correct in terms of content, but also in terms of medical and technical knowledge.  Knowing the specific terminology and understanding medical concepts is extremely important, especially when it comes to translating the side effects of a drug in patient leaflets. Chemical terminology is also required when it comes to translating the composition of a drug for instance. Those who specialize in the field of medical translation also need to have at least a basic knowledge of Latin, as many medical terms descend from Latin.

Most countries need medical translation for things like labelling associated with medical devices, documents necessary to conduct clinical trials or regulatory approval submissions. Those who work in the medical field know how important translation is and how it can affect them. Probably a lot of people wonder what the medical translation rates are at the moment and what determines them. In the complex field of medicine, prices for translation services will vary according to different factors such as:

Language pair combination

Obviously, the medical translation rates are going to be significantly influenced by the language itself. Thus, languages of a high difficulty, with different alphabets, will cost you more than European languages for instance.  Translating medical terminology from Chinese, for example, or vice-versa will require a lot of effort and research, so there is no doubt that such services are going to be a bit more expensive.  The field also influences the price and medicine is not one of the easiest in terms of translating.

Normally, medical translation rates are similar to those that apply for all technical fields, but people must understand that prices vary according to a number of factors. It is very important to make research on the topic of medical translation rates before buying a service in order to make sure that you have chosen wisely. European medical translation rates will normally be between € 0.12 and € 0.20, while those for Asian and Middle Eastern languages will stand between € 0.15 and € 0.25.


The difficulty of the text that requires translation is another factor that influences the medical translation rates. When it comes to complicated articles, manuals or even books, the translator must understand all the terminology because mistakes can have serious effects on the work of a doctor. This is why, it is extremely important that the translators you hire are experts in the field of medicine. Prices might increase if you hire an expert, but you can be sure that you and your company will benefit from the highest quality in terms of translation.

Number of words

According to the translation industry standard, every translation is priced per source word where feasible. The source word is the current language of your document and these are simply counted to derive the total cost. Normally, translators will produce an average of 1500-2000 words per day depending on the complexity of the text. Medical translation rates will be communicated to you from the beginning of your dialogue with the translation service that you have chosen. You have to send your document together with all your guidelines and you will receive a quote.

The difference in word counts is about 20-25% between Scandinavian languages and English, partly depending which way you are counting, and partly on the type of text and the translator’s style. If you are counting English words, your fee for a particular job will end up quite a lot higher than if you count Danish or German words (Because 1000 Danish words translate to 1200 English words or 1200 English words translate to 1000 in Danish, etc.).Many agencies have a standard fee for a particular language pair, and reckon that you take on a range of texts, some easy, some less easy.


Medicine is a demanding field, so translations can take more time. If your job is urgent and stylistic consistency is not critical, some translation companies can assign a number of translators to work in collaboration so that your deadline can be met while maintaining the quality of the translation. In this case, medical translation rates might increase slightly, as translators might have to word during bank holidays or weekends. Of course, you need to propose realistic deadlines that the translators can respect without making compromises in terms of quality. Sometimes, you will have to negotiate with them on this topic, especially if you need their services urgently.

Extra costs

The medical translation rates will increase if you decide you want to include other services in the translation process. Formatting and proofreading may cost you some extra cash, so you must specify them from the beginning to the translation company. Sometimes, in order to guide the translator and to obtain better results, it is a good idea to include helpful document terminology lists, guides, previous translations, existing material in the target languages and general guidelines. This can help the translator provide you with a more accurate translation in a time effective way. If you need urgent translation services, these extra costs will be higher as well because more translators will be assigned to work on your documents.

All in all, you need to understand the reasons behind the medical translation rates. This can be done by making research on this topic, by asking questions and making comparisons.

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