So many people speak another language and call themselves “bilingual” or “translators”. How do I know I am dealing with a professional translator with the high level of skills I need?
The translation industry is unregulated so this is a well-founded fear. There are a lot of unqualified translators on the market, who do a bit of translation “on the side” for “a bit of extra money”.
If you have invested a lot of time, money and effort getting your content created in English and are now ready to have it translated, you need to make sure you invest just as much in the services of a good professional translator.
So what should you be looking out for?
1. Professional qualifications
Has the translator studied their source language and/or translation at university? Do they have a BA or MA in languages and/or translation? Do they have other linguistic qualifications? Is the language you need your content to be translated into their native language (which is the only language they should be translating into)?
2. In-depth linguistic and cultural knowledge of both their source language(s) and their mother tongue
How has the translator acquired their language and translation skills? Have they spent a decent length of time living in a country where their source language is spoken? Have they got in-depth experience of the culture of both their source and target countries (a few weeks or even months living there is generally not enough)?
3. Membership to professional associations
Is the translator registered with a professional body, such as the CIOL (Chartered Institute of Linguists) or the ITI (Institute of Translation and Interpreting) in the UK? Are they undertaking regular CPD activities with these professional associations?
4. Online presence
Is the translator investing time and effort in their online presence? What comes up when you Google their name? Do they have a website detailing their services and credentials? Are they active on platforms like ProZ or LinkedIn? Do they contribute to the industry and showcase their expertise by writing blog posts and comments on social media?
5. Portfolio & experience
Does the translator have a portfolio of completed work for you to check out? How many translation projects have they completed in the field they claim to be specialising in? Do they have other relevant work experience?
Does the translator have testimonials from previous clients or colleagues? Do they have recommendations on LinkedIn or feedback on their website? Is this feedback positive and does it answer the questions you may have?
7. Communication & professionalism
Is the translator happy to have a chat with you about your project? Do they answer your emails in a timely and friendly manner? Are they happy to answer your questions and guide you through the translation process?
8. Employment status
Is the translator registered correctly as self-employed? Do they take care of their own tax? Do they have a professional quote, contract and invoice system? Is translation their main employment, or do they do this as a hobby or to supplement another job?
If the translator you are considering working with fits positively within this profile, then you can be reassured your translation will be handled by a qualified and trustworthy professional.