Every profession needs a quantifiable aspect to determine the amount of work done and the amount payable for it. These milestones can be categorized by the work done or time spent. ASL interpreters opt for similar pricing models that determine the overall price for their services. 

The process of determining the correct model and rate for your interpretation services can be quite challenging. Today, we discuss some common pricing models adopted by interpreters. Further, we explore some ways to negotiate fair compensation for your work. 

Pricing models

ASL interpreters often opt for one of these three models to determine their fee:  

  1. Per hour
  2. Per day (full-day interpreting vs. half-day interpreting) 
  3. Per job

Per hour 

Most professionals opt for this pricing model. This model works on the assumption that when a client needs interpretation services, they will need them for at least an hour. 

Depending on the project, the client can book a professional for a specific amount of time, say, an hour. Whether or not the interpreter works for an entire hour, they will get paid as previously agreed upon. This model considers the opportunity cost of allotting time to a project and is an ideal option if you want to set a minimum fee. 

Per day

Sometimes, clients need interpretation services for longer durations of time. In such cases, it is best to opt for a per-day pricing model for your work. 

Based on the amount and complexity of work, you can adapt your pricing to full-day or half-day. While there are no rules to determine what constitutes a full-day and what constitutes a half-day, you can assume that projects that require around 4 hours fall under half-day pricing and projects requiring about 8 hours of work fall under full-day pricing. 

If you choose this pricing model, be prepared for when projects take longer than expected. In such cases, you must ideally have negotiated your rates for any extra time spent on the work.

For instance, if you agree to a half-day and the project runs longer than expected, you must have pre-negotiated the rate for the extra time you dedicate to the project. For this, you can charge per minute, per half-hour, or per hour. 

Per job

While negotiating for a complex project that requires you to travel or dedicate your services for days, per-job pricing is the most practical option. Here, you agree to complete the interpretation assignment for an already agreed-upon amount.

Most interpreters opting for the per-job pricing model charge a higher fee than they would under the per-hour or per-day pricing models.

Basis for negotiation

Now that you are aware of the different pricing models to choose from, the next step is learning how to negotiate fair compensation for yourself. 

Here are some factors that can determine the rate for your interpretation services: 

Technical expertise and certifications required

Many interpreting settings, including healthcare and legal interpreting, require highly-certified professionals. Some fields require interpreters to keep honing their skills and acquiring new certifications. Further, clients may have specific requirements regarding the experience of the professional. 

Interpreters who work in highly specialized settings charge higher than those who do not. Generally, the more relevant certifications and experience you have, the more you can charge for your services. 

Type of project

Based on the type of project, your interpreting style will have to differ. A setting like a conference would require simultaneous interpreting, while consecutive interpreting might be more appropriate for small-scale meetings. 

Depending on the distinct nature of each job and its demands, you can adjust your interpretation fee. 

Preparation time

An essential element of effective interpreting is the research done before the event. Different projects will require different amounts of research. 

For instance, a court interpretation might require extensive research that takes a substantial amount of time. In contrast, interpreting for networking events might not require much preparation time. 

While you determine your interpretation fee, take into account the time it will take to prepare for each project. You can either set a separate per-hour rate for this or discuss a standard fee with the client. 

Type of event

While negotiating a price, also consider the type of event you will be working at. Is it an international conference with hundreds of people in attendance? Or is it a small meeting with 5-6 people? 

The scale of the event will determine factors like the number of people you will be interpreting for or the availability of any audio equipment. It can also play a role in determining the number of interpreters needed at the event. Ultimately, knowledge of these factors can help you adjust your pricing accordingly. 

Virtual vs. In-person 

Another factor that plays a role in determining your pricing is the interpreting platform. Interpreters charge differently for in-person and virtual interpretation. Often for virtual interpretation services, professionals also charge by the minute. 

Additionally, if you offer last-minute interpretation services virtually, you can charge a higher fee than your standard rates. 

Miscellaneous expenses

Interpreters sometimes need to travel for work. These work trips might even necessitate overnight stays. While negotiating a fair price for your services, remember to include any travel, food, and accommodation expenses you might incur during the project. Ensure that you get reimbursed for any miscellaneous expenses. 

Additional tips

  • Irrespective of the pricing model you choose, remember to determine the minimum rate you will charge for your interpretation services.
  • Have a cancellation policy in place. You must ascertain the amount you will charge for any untimely cancellations.  


While there are no set rules on how to price your interpretation services, with this information, you are in a better position to negotiate and get fairly paid for your hard work and skill. 

Unspoken Language Services is looking for skilled ASL interpreters. We offer a seamless contracting experience that makes scheduling jobs, organizing tasks, and billing hassle-free. To know more, contact us. 

Thumbnail Credit: Photo by Karolina Grabowska