How to Choose Translator for your Project who is Right for you

It is an important task to choose Translator these days of globalization when you often find yourself in a situation that your project requires translation from or into a foreign language. What do you do? How do you choose the right Translator who meets your needs?

Translation is a $34 billion business in the US. The major players are translation agencies of all possible sizes, independent translators and software developers, with the total number of enterprises estimated to be close to 30,000.

So, the choices seem unlimited, but you have to make your decision… How do you decide to choose Translator?

First of all you know your goal – what are you going to do with the translated text?

Free Online Translation Tools

If you received an email in a foreign language from a social networking or dating site, or you came across a foreign website you want to have an idea what it is about, feel free to use a free online translating tool. Always keep in mind though that the translation you get this way is never an adequate one.

Why? There is no free online translating tool so far that is "intelligent" enough to account for all idioms and grammar irregularities of any language, leaving alone ways of choosing the right meaning of a word in a given context.

The same goes also for your letter or website translated online for free – it might appear very funny or even offensive in the target language.

Now you see why these free online translating tools are free – they do not guarantee anything! There is still a long way to go for their developers to reach a goal of accurate translating, if this goal is reachable at all…

If by any chance these online translating tools would become any close to almost accurate one day, the next day they would become a paid service – watch for this.

So, we are done with the "free", now let's go to real translations by human beings and they are not cheap at all if you care for quality should you choose Translator for your project.

Translation Agencies

If you have a multiple languages project, you will be better off hiring a translation agency capable of managing the project for you. They will assign parts of the project to suitable parties, put it all together afterwards and deliver to you.

You interview agencies and get quotes from them the same way you choose any other service providers. It is in your best interest to ask for credentials and expertise of the translators who will be assigned to your project. Some agencies have policies against putting you in direct touch with translators, but nobody can refuse providing translator's credentials and expertise in the field of your project to you. You will not be allowed to discuss money directly with translators in any circumstances.

In today's world it is actually of no importance to you where the translation agency is located, as all of them communicate and deliver over the Internet. If you prefer to deal with local translation services, then choose them from your Yellow pages, not from Google.

Translation agencies come in any size – from a one-person-operation that wants to look bigger and registers a corporation for that (nothing wrong with it) to a multi-million-dollar business. When you interview them, you will find out, and then the decision is yours according to your own preferences.

Independent Translators

Much more often than not, translation agencies do not have translators in-house, but subcontract them instead on per-project basis when the opportunity arises for the translator's languages combination.

Believe it or not, but dealing with a translation agency means just one more middleman (or woman) for you, but the actual work will be done by an independent translator anyway most of the time.

So, when you have a one-time translation assignment or an ongoing need in just some language combinations, you might be better off to choose Translator who specializes in the field of your project as an independant contractor, and manage the project on your own. Locally – search your Yellow pages, anywhere – google translation in languages combination you are interested in, like "English – Russian translation", for example, to choose Translator for your project.

This process might bring you to websites quoting astonishingly low prices. Look and you will see that those translators are located in the countries where labor is much cheaper than in the US and Canada. Well, "cheaper" never means "better"; you know that you usually get what you pay for…

The common problem with hiring overseas translators is their lack of knowledge of many things, events, words and expressions that you take for granted. That is why their translations might be funny at times or incomplete or inaccurate.

Always ask – what is included in the quoted price? Proofreading? Editing?

So, the variety is out there, the choice is yours…


Please go from How to Choose Translator for your Project to CONTACT form with any questions you might have

Sincerely,




Olga Kellen,
English - Russian Translator,
Associate member of ATA,
American Translators Association