A Detailed Look At The Cost Of Your Virtual Interpreting Services

Interpreting Services have undergone a transformation. While on-site events carried more weight in the pre-pandemic world, virtual interpreting has now grown in prominence. And innovative Language Service Providers (LSP) have been successful meeting the immediate need and providing effective remote interpreting solutions.

Virtual Interpreting Services have been around for decades but have slowly but surely been expanding and can now be capitalized on effectively. But the recent spike in demand has made clients wonder exactly how the cost of Virtual Interpreting services are calculated compared to its on-site counterpart. Here is how!

Virtual Interpreting In A Nutshell

First things first. What does Virtual Interpreting involve? There are three main types of interpreting services that can be discerned based on the requests and requirements received from clients. These are:

  • Over-the-phone Interpreting (OPI): OPI is the oldest remote interpreting service most commonly requested for hotline services, emergencies, or even for consultation calls in the medical industry, for instance. It follows the consecutive interpreting style, which means that the interpreter will translate parts of the conversation through regular breaks.
  • Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) connects clients through audio as well as video and is a welcome solution for spoken as well as sign languages. While any industry can make use of these services, VRI is particularly useful in the healthcare sector where on-call medical professionals can benefit from an equally on-call service to interact with patients from varying backgrounds. This service also follows the consecutive style.
  • Next to consecutive interpreting, there is also simultaneous interpreting, where the natural flow of the source-language is respected, and the interpreter is expected to match the speaker’s speed. Given the nature of the interpreter’s involvement and the often larger number of attendees, Remote Simultaneous Interpreting (RSI) requires a lot more planning.

Pro tip! Want to learn more about the ins and outs of Virtual Interpreting? Read our blog on the complete guide to the best practices of Virtual Interpreting.

The Cost Of Virtual Interpreting Services Step By Step

Virtual Interpreting Services can be more than just an alternative solution to conventional interpreting. Besides accessibility and immediacy, virtual interpreting is the ideal solution to the restrictions imposed by several countries due to the pandemic. But virtual interpreting services also come as a more cost-effective solution than on-site interpreting. While specialized tools are needed, you can save costs on the rental of a space, the on-site equipment, and any travel costs that you may otherwise incur. Let’s break it down for you!

Pricing Units

Virtual Interpreting services are charged according to different pricing units, depending on the scale and nature of your services.

  • Per Minute. If you have a call setup that will last for a couple of minutes, your services are likely to be charged per minute. These rates won’t be applied when the interpreting service takes more than an hour, since rates per minute tend to push up the overall price without there being a need to do so.
  • Per Hour. Once your service exceeds one hour, it is charged per hour. With this, keep in mind that considering the intensity of the job, interpreters work in shifts of 4 hours consisting of 2 hours of work, and a 2-hour break. So, if your event exceeds 2 hours, you will need to request more than one interpreter. There can be some wiggle-room here if, for example, your event exceeds the 2-hour mark by 30 minutes. But this should be discussed in further detail with your LSP.
  • Per Day. In the case of larger events that may take up a full day or even a couple of days, virtual interpreting services are charged per day.
  • A Minimum Fee. A VI event could also be listed as a minimum charge or fee for a billing unit. A service could have a minimum fee, charged per minute, per hour, per day, or per job.
  • Per Job/Assignment. The price of a VI event can also depend on the nature of the job or assignment. For example, if you need to hire an interpreting service for a conference, you will need simultaneous interpreting. This type of service is more intense and demanding and will be charged accordingly. The same goes for the type of subject-matter experts you need for your events and the level of expertise and availability that comes with it.

How Pricing Differs Based On Your Requirements

While the pricing units may seem pretty straight forward, it is worth remembering that the over-cost of your Virtual Interpreting services will depend on the nature of your project. More specifically, there are 3 main factors that can influence the eventual price tag: language pair, platform, and scope & complexity of the project.

  • Languages. When it comes to the language pairs, some of these will end up being more costly than others. Contributing factors are the complexity of the language and the availability of qualified professionals. Translating English to Spanish, for example, will be less complicated than translating German to Japanese. Speaking of languages, sign languages also come with a higher rate because of the strict requirements and qualifications a sign language interpreter needs. For example, American Sign Language interpreters could spend up to 8 years earning their certificates and licenses before they can operate in certain states.
  • Platform. In the Virtual Interpreting world, there are interpreting platforms and tools available that will help streamline the process. This is particularly important with Simultaneous Interpreting where demands and pressure can easily escalate. For this reason, the LSP you choose may have a subscription to a platform that will suit your needs best. Unless you have a solution of your own, LSPs will commonly charge for the use of platforms and tools they are subscribed to. Simultaneous interpreting platforms include Kudo, Voiceboxer, Interactio, Speakus, and Verspeak.
  • Project Scope and Complexity. A qualified LSP will make sure to assign professional interpreters with subject-matter expertise to ensure clear and accurate interaction. The downside is that if your niche is rather unique, concrete, or technical, finding the perfect match will be a challenge. This will also crank up the price a bit higher.  But if you think of the frustrating back-and-forth communication  between you and your interpreters if they aren’t very familiar with your industry, you’ll realize that it’s well-spent money.

A Rough Estimate Of Your Virtual Interpreting Services

As you can see, a lot of factors can influence the price. But we didn’t want to leave you without giving you some numbers as a reference at least. Here goes!

As previously mentioned, VI services can be charged either per hour or per minute, and that number changes depending on the language pair and duration among other factors that we’ve touched upon in this blog. For example, for video interpreting services, you can expect to pay anywhere between $1 to $3 per minute. Some interpreters or interpreting services may charge you for less than $1. In some cases, these low rates should raise an eyebrow or two. They are suspicious for a reason since they are a huge indicator of possible inadequate language proficiency or industry expertise. On the other hand, phone interpreting rates can be slightly lower than video interpreting, but still within the same range.


The basic cost of your virtual interpreting services varies, depending on your project’s scope, and can either be charged by the minute, hour, or day. The eventual price, however, depends greatly on other factors, which include your language pair, the subject-matter, and the platform you will be utilizing.

At Laoret, we hire native, in-country interpreters with specific knowledge of your industry. Our 24/7, online availability prepares us to meet the needs for any project no matter what the size, industry, and language.

Need some guidance? Talk To One Of Our Project Managers.

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