Pricing for terminology work

financial-decision-makingI have seen in the past a few discussions on social media about how much we should charge for terminology work. This topic has been also previously discussed by Barbara Inge Karsch in her 2010 blog post What do we do with terms?

It is important to make a differentiation between terminology work done during the translation process and terminology work done by a terminologist. In this post I refer to general terminology work done in translation, since doing terminology work for a company or organization is dependent on many factors that are usually out of our control (mainly budget restrictions).

A translator usually charges either by word, by hour, or by project. During the translation process s/he will research technical terms as necessary. At the end, s/he has a glossary or a number of terms entered in his/her termbase, for HIS or HER own use. But if the client requests that the translator prepare a glossary or any other type of terminology product, then a decision on how much to charge for that specific request needs to be made.

Your best bet is to charge by the hour. Every term will take more or less research work (or documentation) than others, or you might already know the term really well based on previous jobs, so no research is necessary. The level of complexity for each term will always be different. Also, if you need to provide a definition for each (a rare request), you would have to make more or less research and take the time to write a definition yourself if it is not available. The latter assuming that you have deep understanding of the subject or that you have consulted an expert(s).

Also, terminology work is costly. Therefore you have to be assertive when choosing the terms that will be added to your glossary or termbase. It is always hard to pick the most useful and appropriate terms. You might also want to add preferred terms and deprecated (forbidden) terms, leaving out terms that you could easily find in a dictionary. In other words, make sure the terms are real terms (project-specific) to keep them relevant.



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