Hourly rates for audio transcription - processed by machine?
Thread poster: Lee89

Lee89
New Zealand
Chinese to English
+ ...
Oct 24

Hi all,
First post here, hope I've successfully complied by the rules.

I've got a offer for a audio transcription job. However, the files will have been processed already through a voice recognition software, so I'd just have to edit the documents. There's some accents involved so the software isn't perfect. No need for time tags or other fancy business; no translation involved. My client wants an hourly rate, and she seems very reasonable to work with, but the problem is I'm
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Hi all,
First post here, hope I've successfully complied by the rules.

I've got a offer for a audio transcription job. However, the files will have been processed already through a voice recognition software, so I'd just have to edit the documents. There's some accents involved so the software isn't perfect. No need for time tags or other fancy business; no translation involved. My client wants an hourly rate, and she seems very reasonable to work with, but the problem is I'm not sure how much to charge: I normally do translation, and I understand that transcription is generally charged per audio minute.

Wanted to see what the community thinks and how much they would charge. I have transcription experience (salaried job in the past) and extensive proofreading experience, and this job is in the EU, specifically the Netherlands.

Thanks for the help!
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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:17
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Have you listened to it? Oct 24

Lee89 wrote:
I've got a offer for a audio transcription job. However, the files will have been processed already through a voice recognition software, so I'd just have to edit the documents.

My client wants an hourly rate, and she seems very reasonable to work with, but the problem is I'm not sure how much to charge: I normally do translation, and I understand that transcription is generally charged per audio minute.

It's always possible to charge an hourly rate for any job. Our time, plus our knowledge, is what we're really selling, not words. And knowing how much to charge per hour should present no problems either to anyone other than a complete beginner. How much do you earn from an hour of translation? If you're happy with that amount, charge that rate for this too. Some people say that monolingual transcription is a job that requires less knowledge and that's true -- it's really better suited to an audio-typist and they tend to earn less. But if the client has come to a translator then they have to be prepared to pay the translator's rates. Just as you would have to be prepared to pay your lawyer their usual hourly fee if you asked them to do a simple inventory of a rental property.

The problem -- your problem, I'm sure -- is when it comes to estimating how many hours the job will take. And for transcription there's no way you can do that without hearing random samples from throughout the audio. And in this particular case, comparing the audio to the transcript. Someone who's experienced would then be able to produce a pretty good estimate. As it's your first time editing a transcription, I don't see any alternative to spending some of your own time on it. Take a known length of audio minutes, or work for a set time. Then use that small sample of work to calculate how long the whole job is likely to take -- very approximately.

I've edited human transcriptions but I have no clue at all about how long it would take to edit one produced by a machine. It might well need redoing from scratch.


 

Lee89
New Zealand
Chinese to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for the info Oct 24

Hi Shiela,
Thanks for your help & comments, you raise some very reasonable points. Going by translator rates is a good tip. I haven't listened to the files personally, no. It should not need redoing from scratch, though.

The thing is, the client's already aware that it may take an uneven amount of time depending on audio quality. That's why she'd prefer me to charge an hourly rate, as opposed to going by audio minute. That gives me the flexibility to spend as much or as littl
... See more
Hi Shiela,
Thanks for your help & comments, you raise some very reasonable points. Going by translator rates is a good tip. I haven't listened to the files personally, no. It should not need redoing from scratch, though.

The thing is, the client's already aware that it may take an uneven amount of time depending on audio quality. That's why she'd prefer me to charge an hourly rate, as opposed to going by audio minute. That gives me the flexibility to spend as much or as little as I need on each file and get paid appropriately for it. That's why I wanted to get some perspective on how much the usual rate would be for such a task.
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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:17
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
All my editing work is paid per hour -- clients should pay the price of poor texts, not editors Oct 24

Lee89 wrote:
the client's already aware that it may take an uneven amount of time depending on audio quality. That's why she'd prefer me to charge an hourly rate, as opposed to going by audio minute. That gives me the flexibility to spend as much or as little as I need on each file and get paid appropriately for it.

Hourly is certainly the best way to charge for any job where the time needed will be totally outside your control, hence the title of this post. Translation works reasonably well on a per-word basis, I find. But audio transcription doesn't lend itself at all well to charging by audio minute. It's simply a convenient method as it's up-front. The audio can contain arguments where several people are trying to get heard at once, and then, particularly if it's video, you can have long silences or times where the sound is not speech and so not for transcription. Then there are all the problems caused by the failings of the recording system itself or extraneous noises such as thunderstorms, power tools, traffic -- you name it! It's quite impossible to charge a flat per-minute rate that's fair -- for either party.

So, a client who encourages you to charge per hour of your time is a godsend . As I said, though, it's for you to know your hourly fee.


 


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