What to look for in a freelance translator

Are you looking to have your work translated and have opted for a freelancer, but you’re lost in the jungle of search results? Don’t be put off by the masses of information that search engines throw at you. The translation industry is not regulated, so knowing what to look for can be a bit of a minefield. This blog post contains some specifics to help you in your search.

Qualifications
Qualifications are an important factor – a translator should produce good-quality work if they have a master’s degree in translation from a university or if they hold another equivalent qualification, such as the DipTrans. It should, however, be noted that not all translators have translation-specific qualifications. If your translator doesn’t, check whether they are a member of any professional translator associations, as some of these, such as the ITI, require translators to pass their entrance exam.

Experience
It goes without saying that a translator who has many years of experience should be good at their job. When searching for a translator, look at how long they have been working in translation, whether they have worked in-house or just freelanced, and the types of documents they have translated. These factors will give you a better picture of your translator’s abilities.

Specialisms
A translator’s qualifications and experience in the industry is not where your search should end. What type of text do you need to have translated? Is it a legal, medical, marketing or technical text, for example? A translator’s website should contain information on their specialisms, so when searching for “translator in [insert language pair here]” in a search engine, you should also include the type of text, e.g. “translator German to English business” to make sure your translator has the necessary knowledge to translate your text.

Professional translator associations
As with most industries, the translation industry has a set of professional associations, e.g. IAPTI and the ITI. If a translator is a member of one (or more) of these associations, it may reveal information about his or her business. Professional translator associations will have some form of code of conduct that they will expect their members to observe. Some translator associations will also expect their members to take a translation exam to verify that they have the appropriate skills to be a translator. So if your translator is a member of a professional translator association, you should expect professionalism and quality.

Translator portals
If you find your perfect translator via their business website but would like more information, you could search to see if he or she has a profile on a translator portal. Most translators will have a profile on one or more portals, even if it just contains basic information. Some will have spent time on their profile, and it may contain information that you cannot find on their website, e.g. rates and feedback. If you want further information before contacting your chosen translator, it may be worth cross-referencing their website with their profile, for example on ProZ.com or translatorscafe.com. These are just two of a wide range of portals you could search through.

Feedback on your translator
Before you enquire about a translation with your chosen translator, it may also be worth reading feedback and testimonials about the translator written by the translator’s clients. This may be included on the translator’s website, but some portals also have this feature. Feedback may contain information on quality, client satisfaction, and reliability, which will be helpful in your search.

There you have some tips to get you started. Happy hunting!

Feel free to add your comments and questions below.

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