Does Investing In Professional Translation Services Still Remain Reasonable With Technology Advancement?

As globalization takes hold, the need for translation services has exploded. With people from all corners of the globe interacting more than ever, the need for a translator has never been greater. Whether it’s for business, travel, or personal reasons, a translation service is a valuable resource for anyone looking to communicate with others in their native language.

Due to the globalization of business, there is also an increased demand for translation services. To enter new markets, companies must speak the same language as their customers. Through translation, businesses can break down the language barrier and penetrate foreign markets.

There are many translation services available, but not all of them are equally good. Some translation services are more expensive than others, but which one is the most cost-effective? And what factors should you consider when choosing a translation service?

With the fast improvement of machine translation, the question arises:

Free translation tools have gotten better and better over time, so why are human translation services still expensive?

Let’s try to find an answer.

Comparison of Machine and Professional Translation Services:

  • Automated Translation
  • Professional Human Translation
Speed: Automated translation is very fast and can instantly translate large volumes of text. Usually, human translation is slower and depends on the length and complexity of the text. 
Quality: The quality is generally lower than the outputs produced by professionals. Software may not capture nuances, context, or cultural considerations. Machine translation engines merely translate words, and that’s why the context and intent often get lost in translation. Expert translators provide accurate translation with appropriate attention to context, idioms, and cultural overtones. This can entail adjusting the translation to fit the targeted audience or industry. Skilled translators fluent in the two languages help retain the content’s veracity through word-perfect renditions of the message.
Use Case: Automated translation is suitable for informal or simple tasks. It’s helpful in cases when one needs to get the gist of foreign-language content or translate everyday conversations. It may also be used as a starting point for human translators. Professional human translation is needed for texts that require accuracy and precision. That is especially true for legal documents, medical records, marketing materials, and academic research.
Cost: Many online tools and apps offer machine translation for free or at a low cost. But that is only true for basic translations.  In most cases, professional translation services can be more expensive than automated options. Rates vary depending on a number of factors.


  • Since the translation cost sometimes can be the key factor when deciding which option to choose, let’s break down this point.
  • Translation costs vary depending on the service provider. As of 2023, you may expect to pay upwards of $0.09 per word for basic translation services performed by trained linguists. Premium translation carried out only by native-speaking subject matter experts varies from $0.17 to $0.30 per word across different languages.

Factors that can affect the rates for professional human translation:

Language Pair: 

Rates may vary based on the language combination, with less common languages generally costing more. If you consider a given language pair, average rates tend to widely differ. Moreover, some countries have different rates depending on their life standards. In countries where the cost of living is low, it is customary to offer a lower rate per word if you hire translators. For instance, English-to-Russian translation rates per word can be as low as $0.05 for professional services. It’s due to the fact that the company’s translators are from Russian-speaking countries with a comparatively low cost of living.  

Type of Translation:

Traditional text translations convert written words from one language to another. Interpretation translates spoken words in real time. Localization adjusts content to reflect the cultural sensitivities of a specific region or country. A significant part of localization is changing attributes, such as measure units, currency, text orientation, date format, and local technical or legislative requirements. It means that localisation costs are higher than those of translation. However,  

Translator Expertise: 

You can’t translate specialised content either unless you know about the topic. This goes for medicine, law, construction, engineering, and so on. Each discipline requires knowledgeable translators.  Accordingly, translators who have knowledge of specialized topics may charge higher rates than generalists due to the need for subject matter expertise.


Expedited services or tight deadlines may come with additional fees. If you need to have your content translated shortly, the fast turnaround is normally costly. However, some agencies’ express services are still comparatively cheap. For example, request an increased fee equal to only 10% of the total project cost.

Project Volume: 

Large volumes of text may result in lower per-word rates, while small projects could have higher rates.  Some agencies would have a minimum of 250-600 word count or minimum order value. The above mentioned company providing Russian translation services accept all orders with a minimal price of $12 for orders less than a page which is not really high. Moreover, they offer very attractive volume discounts that help you save up to 10% in addition to the lowest rate in thre industry. 


If formatting or desktop publishing is required, it can add to the overall cost. However, at the same time this is the way can save money. Because if you entrust desktop publishing to the same translation agency, they can offer a better quotation. In addition, there’s no need to look for a separate desktop publishing service. 


In summary, automated translation is a cost-effective and quick solution for basic translation needs but may lack quality and context. 

Unfortunately, the latest machine translation methods prove to be quite inaccurate. Grammatical, stylistical and logical mistakes often appear at first glance when doing a quick proofread. If it takes you too much time to manually post-edit the copy then it is better to order professionals for first-round translation.

Professional human translation is the choice for important, nuanced, or specialized content, but it comes at a higher cost. If you use professional translation services, you know you’re working with trained linguists. Besides studying languages, the people handling your texts have studied translation and are well-versed in some subject areas.

However, translations don’t always have to be expensive. Some providers charge as low as 5 cents per word and even offer additional discounts.

The choice between the two depends on your specific requirements and budget constraints.

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