Oral History NSW
Giving Voice to the Past
Giving Voice to the Past

A Guide to Determining Fees for Oral History

Revised 15 March 2009

The cost of undertaking oral history interviews/projects depends on a number of factors: 

Preliminaries and Preparation

  • The number of hours of research and preparation undertaken by the consultant for the
    assignment and fees per hour set by each consultant according to their level of professionalism, experience and/or qualifications.
  • Whether a preliminary interview with the subject is conducted and the cost of such an interview.
  • The location of the interview and any travelling or accommodation costs involved in conducting preliminary and final interviews.
  • The number of hours necessary to prepare questions for the interview.
  • The cost of procuring ancillary material if required, such as photographs and documents. 

Conducting Interviews

  • The number of recording sessions required and length of the final recorded interview.
  • The quality of recording equipment and microphones used.

Overheads and charges

  • The fees per hour set by the consultant for administration and communication.
  • The cost of insurances, such as Professional Indemnity, Public Liability, Travel, Accident and Workers Compensation, if required, to be carried by the oral historian.
  • GST and any other charges or taxes necessary to deliver the project.


  • The extent of any editing or repositioning of the recorded material, if required.
  • Transfer costs from tape, compact or hard disc to CD for transcription purposes.
  • The cost of producing summaries, logs, indexes or transcripts from the interview.
  • The cost of proofing transcripts and making any post-editing corrections requested by the client.
  • Cost of adding accurate timings to logs and transcripts.
  • Costs of any translation, if required.
  • The cost of printing and  binding of all written and printed material.

Delivery and other costs

  • The number of CD copies made of the final interview.
  • Costs of printing labels on CDs and CD cases.
  • Transport and delivery costs of all materials.
  • The costs of preparing material for website use.

It must be emphasized that not all of the items listed above will be required for an oral history project but those that are required should be determined by the person or organisation commissioning the project and be included at the outset in their specifications to the oral historian.

The above list only addresses fees for interviewing projects. Additional services, such as the making of compilation CDs and writing reports or chronologies would be the subject of more detailed quotations.

As each consultant has his or her own scale of fees for the above Oral History Australia does not recommend a set scale of fees, or even a range of fees. This is negotiated between the commissioning body or individual and the oral historian at the start of any individual assignment or project. Oral History NSW membership is open to all and this ranges from fully professional oral historians to those entering the field, or with less professional experience whose scale of fees will be well below that set by the professional practitioners.


Oral History NSW recommends that where a body is commissioning a project it is important that there is a contract between that body and the oral history project manager/historian. The contract should include fees, nature of services to be provided and conditions of employment.

Professional Historians’ Association

There are professional historians╩╝ associations throughout Australia whose members are qualified and accredited. These associations publish a scale of fees to assist their members and commissioning parties in the development of project budgets.

Community Arts Networks

They exist in most states to advise on the development of project budgets and fees for practitioners featuring oral history in their work.