When you need
German translation services you can choose between a freelance translator or a
So which is best for you?
You need a freelance translator when:
a great translator you want to keep working with!
Your jobs are not too large
Your deadline is realistic
Ýou can schedule your translation requirements in advance
You only need a single language pair, e.g German to English
Your translations deal with very specialized subject matter and you find a
freelance translator with the necessary specialist knowledge.
Confidentiality is key, and you need to know exactly who has access to your
You need a translation agency when:
Your translation project is large and needs completing quickly, by several
translators working simultaneously or in different time zones.
Your project needs to be translated into several languages (e.g.
German-English, German-French, German-Spanish) meaning several
translators need to be involved.
Your projects involve other related services.
cover a range of specialist areas not typically covered by a single
freelance translator, e.g. marketing & PR, medical trials, financial
reports, technical specifications.
Buying German Translation Services from a Freelance Translator
A recent survey by the UK’s Chartered Institute of Linguists shows that around 80% of
qualified translators in the UK work as freelancers. You can probably assume
that the situation is much the same in the US too.
Well, quite simply, there are very few in-house
positions available for translators. Few companies bother with an in-house translation department, outsourcing translation, along with other important but “non-core” communication tasks.
So you'll have no problems finding a freelance translator!
Find a freelance translator...
If you want to buy German translations directly from a freelance translator you'll
find plenty on the web.
Try a local Google search for someone in your area
(e.g. “German to English translation Vienna”).
You can post your translation jobs on translator community websites. Qualified freelancers will then contact
you directly, offering their services.
You can do
several types of background check on a freelance translator:
Are they a member of a recognised language
translation association? Membership usually means the
translator has provided proof of their professional qualifications and
Is the freelance translator listed with a well-known translator directory? These directories often show the how
many jobs the freelancer has done for directory clients, and the willingness of
clients to work with them again, etc.
Do they have an online presence? Freelancers are increasingly running websites & blogs and actively participating in social media, all
of which gives you a good idea of their reputation & commitment to the profession.
Buying German Translation Services From a Translation Agency
agencies manage your translation projects from start to finish.
They use the best translators for your
particular text (technical manuals/legal contracts/financial statements etc.)
and project-manage translations over variety of language pairs.
If you use them regularly, then the agency may offer to manage a
terminology database on your behalf, to ensure terminological consistency over time.
They may also use translation software systems for delivering multilingual
content to clients.
Translation agencies come in all
shapes and sizes, from independent
translators sub-contracting work out, to multinationals and
everything in between. Smaller agencies often specialize in a limited range of languages or
in specialized fields.
the larger the agency (i.e. in terms of in-house staff), the greater their
management role, and the more language combinations, specializations and range
of services they’ll be able to offer.
Find an agency...
– it’s always nice to be able to meet up face-to-face. Do a Google search for agencies in your area and then check up each translation
Client references: Look for professional translation
services which have been around for a while and can refer to solid client
Certification: Translation agencies can apply for quality
of service certification – look for an agency certified according to European or US standards.
There is a
saying in the profession that you’re only as good as your last translation,
so German translation services providers - agencies & and freelancers -who've been in business for several years
are probably doing a good job.
agency and translator are geographically close to your place of business, then it's also more likely that the
translator has heard of you or the business environment in which you work – never underestimate the importance of background knowledge!
And the cost?
are generally more expensive than freelance translators, but you’re paying for a different level of service.
Freelancers only take on translation jobs in their own language
pair (e.g. German to English) and specialist field (e.g. medical translation). They usually translate into their native language. Some may
charge more and get a second translator to check through their translation
before submitting it to the client.
Translation agencies usually have a large number of translators on their books
and will select the best translator available for your particular
needs.The translations will be double-checked – either by another
qualified employee at the agency or by a second, freelance translator - also
specialized in that field. Where
several translators have had to work on a single translation, the agency will
make sure that the terminology is consistent. Only then will the translation be
sent to the client.
Pay peanuts, get monkeys.
Hardly an original statement, but still valid. A couple of considerations:
Beware of virtual translation agencies – they pitch their services online, offering low costs and speed. They're popping up all over the web, claiming that working online revolutionizes the process of managing translation and reduces cost.
However, the major
cost involved in translation is time, so the only way they can make money is by paying freelance translators minimal rates.
translators generally refuse to work with them.
Translators are professionals, often with post-graduate qualifications, so when
hiring a freelancer or an agency this will be reflected in the cost.
In most cases, your best bet is probably to use a freelancer for your German translation services. You'll pay more than using an online agency, but you'll probably get a better translation in the end.
I hope you find this guide to buying German translation services useful.
Here are some more articles in my series on buying translation:
a German to English
translator living and working in Vienna, Austria. I turn German texts
into clear and accessible English, allowing clients to present their
stories, ideas and information to a completely new audience. My business
and marketing clients rely on me to get their message across clearly
and effectively. How can I help you today?
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