Translation Agencies or Individual Translator?
In professional translation circles, discussions between translators and bureaus constantly arise, during which translators are asked the meaning of the existence of the bureau as such, because they see in them only trade intermediaries, who don’t bring real benefits to the customer. There are always disputes about who should contact the customer: an independent translator or a company that provides translation services. In this article, we will try to understand this issue and consider all the advantages and disadvantages of working with independent translators and with translation agencies.
Since translation agencies, among other things, are really intermediaries between a customer and interpreter, their prices are usually higher than those of freelancers. Therefore, in this matter, of course, an independent translator wins a bureau.
However, there are exceptions. Qualified translators who have collected a solid client base and earned reputation for their professional work can claim for their work fees that aren’t inferior to bureau rates, and sometimes even surpass them. Such interpreters don’t cooperate with a bureau, since their involvement makes a translation bureau uncompetitive at a price.
There are also dumping bureaus that attract customers with very low rates. Such bureaucracies are silent that their low price is due to the fact that they don’t spend anything on the selection of professional translators and quality control of their work. By trusting translation to such companies, you must be prepared for the fact that your text will be translated by a student or just an accidental person.
QUALITY OF WORK
Perhaps the choice of a qualified performer is the most difficult moment for any customer not familiar with the translation industry. Both translators and translation agencies can provide services of very different quality, and here the main thing is not make a mistake with the choice.
As mentioned above, there are freelance translators who perform their work very qualitatively and have earned reputation among their customers. Such specialists often express the idea that translation agencies aren’t needed in principle and that they alone can cope with everything. But they forget one important detail: most translators will never reach their level. Such specialists are a rarity, and it’s very difficult for an inexperienced customer to find them among the mass of unskilled colleagues. The following statistics confirm this:
1. About 65% of applicants who apply for a job as a translator don’t know the elementary rules of punctuation, grammar and spelling that were studied at school. It means that they aren’t literate despite a diploma of higher education.
2. No more than 5% of applicants can perform a translation test at an acceptable level.
Thus, if you can’t assess the professional level of a translator to whom you assign work, there is a 95% chance that you will receive poor translation. To reduce these risks, you need to find a translator with recommendations and make sure that the experts themselves are able to adequately assess quality of translation.
The advantage of working with a translation bureau is that they pre-select and attract the competent performers who have been working with them for many years. In addition, with a correctly constructed process, a translated text in a bureau is read by an editor and checked by specialized tools.
Therefore, risks of obtaining low-quality translation from an office are lower than from a randomly chosen translator. However, they still remain. For a customer of translation services there is always a very difficult task of choosing an artist.
If your goal is to receive translation for which you won’t be ashamed in front of customers, we recommend you carefully choose a translation agency.
AMOUNTS AND TERMS
If you need to translate large amounts of text, then when you contact an individual translator you will have to accept that it will take quite a long time to do the work and this process won’t be possible to speed up. A translation bureau will be able to attract several translators and editors to translate large volumes of a text in a relatively short time.
STABILITY AND AVAILABILITY FOR WORK
An individual translator works simultaneously with many customers, and requests from different clients can come simultaneously. Therefore, it will sometimes simply refuse to offer customers. In addition, they may become unavailable due to illness or personal circumstances, go on vacation, etc. So, working with one person, you can never be sure that they will take your next very urgent and important project into work.
As a rule, there is always a reserve executor of a relevant qualification in a translation bureau, so you can be sure that you won’t be placed in the long queue of waiting customers. Unlike a freelance translator, a bureau can scale and adapt to your time and volume, because its capabilities aren’t limited to one performer.
For any customer it’s important to be able to contact a performer at any time to clarify the details, additional briefing, rescheduling the work, etc. Both freelancers and translation agencies usually stay in touch, but individuals have more situations when they can’t answer a letter or call.
Translation bureaus don’t just perform the function of dispatchers, they cope with additional work: they select competent executors, control quality of translation, ensure the coordination and unification of large translation projects, ensure continuous communication with a customer and constant availability for work. Without involvement of a translation bureau, customers themselves will have to perform these functions and spend time for this.
However, all these advantages disappear if you assign your order to an unscrupulous bureau, in which all the monitoring and coordination processes described above aren’t available. In that case, you will pay more, but get the same result as an incompetent translator. Therefore, very carefully approach the choice of an executing company.
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