How to choose a translation company

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In 2018, the global language services industry market size reached just over 45 billion U.S. dollars, compared to 23.5 billion in 2009. Globalisation, the extending geographical scope of businesses and advances in translation technology are spurring growing demand for translation services. To meet this booming demand, the number of language services providers (LSPs) entering the market has increased, supplemented by a vast cohort of translator and interpreters.

In this busy marketplace, it can be difficult for individuals and businesses to know what to look out for when selecting an LSP for their translation needs. In fact, even large corporations have made translation blunders because they didn’t do their research properly. In this post, we take a look at some of the elements you should consider when choosing a translation company.

Translation rates and professionalism

A lack of industry regulation and high competition push down rates, but it is important not to make price your only criterion; unscrupulous agencies may scrimp on quality checks or pay their translators less to cut costs. To find the best translation partner, it may be valuable to approach multiple agencies with your project to compare their rates, customer service and professionalism.

Specialisation

Many agencies offer translations in any language and across all subject areas. When working with general agencies for texts that are specific to a certain field, you should check that your projects are assigned to translators with the right specialist knowledge. For instance, a text on railway engineering should not be translated by a medical translator.

Ideally, translation agencies should specialise in certain areas where they have proven experience; this means they will have worked on many texts within these fields, building up expertise.

Professional associations for translators and interpreters

Though the industry is unregulated, there are professional associations that offer membership options to linguists and businesses. Memberships tend to be paid and applicants must undergo a vetting process. If a company claims to hold a professional membership, this can be verified in the organisation’s directory and details of the vetting process should also be available online. For example, see the Association of Translation Companies (ATC) directory here and details of ATC membership criteria here.

ISO Standards for translation services

The internationally recognised standard for translation services is ISO 17100:2015 (this standard does not apply to interpreters). It sets benchmarks for translation processes to help companies achieve optimal quality; although the standard does not define the quality of completed translations, customers can be assured that best practice procedures are being followed. Companies that are certified according to this standard therefore demonstrate their commitment to providing excellent translations.