07.27.2016

Individual Translators vs. Translation Companies

There a pros and cons to using individual translators and to using translation companies. Take the following details into account before making your decision. 

Translation Job Size: 

Usually a translation company can’t do things like one driver’s license or one birth certificate. They’re just too small for them to accept. 

This is the most common situation where an individual translator is the better choice. Not all freelance translators like accepting theses small jobs either so be prepared for some to say no, but others really prefer smaller jobs anyway for one reason or another. If the first translator you ask doesn’t do them, they might be able to recommend someone else who does. 

Certified Translations: 

Translations can be certified by individual translators or by a company representing their individual translators. 

Since either option will work, these jobs will likely be determined by size, just like driver’s licenses or birth certificates would be. If it’s small, go with an individual. If it’s many documents, a company would work well. 

(Know that even if you have already translated the document, no one else can certify it unless they have translated it themselves.) 

Management Efficiency: 

If you have a translation that would require multiple people to complete either because: 

* You need a translator and then a second editor and then another quality assurance step 

* Or because you will need more than one person to complete it in the short window of time you have 

Then it’s probably easier to turn all of those steps over to a translation company. They will already have teams set up to do all of those separate steps and you know everything will get a final review before it is even sent back to you. 

If you were to coordinate all of that with several individual translators, it would take a lot more time and energy. The translation company exists to handle all of that for you! 

Payment: 

Translation companies likely have minimum prices (based on word counts or pages or hours) that will be used to determine the price of your project if it’s on the smaller side (this is the reason really small jobs are better for individual translators). They will also have a set of standard rates based on the languages you are working with, level of expertise needed for the subject matter, graphics work, formatting, and quality control. The project manager will outline these things for you and let you know the total cost before confirming that they will take the job. Payment will most likely come in the form of an invoice from the company with a deadline for sending payment. 

Freelance translators may or may not negotiate prices with you, particularly for really small jobs. They may have a flat rate that they won’t change. They may also ask you to pay in advance for those jobs, so be prepared for that. Many use payment systems like PayPal that you would need to use as well. 

Depending on your specific need, an individual translator might be the right choice or a translation company could be the right one. Be prepared so you know who to ask and what to expect!