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Different types of translation service provider

You need a document translating. How do you go about it? There are many solutions. Here is a brief guide to the different types of translation service providers, which could help you choose who to entrust your content to.

Freelance translators

Many translators choose to set up in business as freelancers. These professionals try to carve out a place in the translation market on their own. In this category, you might come across three scenarios:

  • A freelance translator who will take on your project directly

This professional works alone. You can contact him or her directly, sending your documents and providing instructions about the translation. Note that freelance translators often work for translation agencies.

  • A freelance translator who subcontracts to other colleagues
    Some freelance translators, overwhelmed with work, choose to subcontract to trusted colleagues in exchange for a small commission. They will act as an intermediary, usually proofreading their colleague’s work before sending you the final version.
  • A freelance project manager
    Unlike a translator subcontracting to a colleague, a freelance project manager no longer translates. They act solely as intermediaries. Their address books are long lists of professional translators who specialise in a variety of fields and work in different language combinations.

Translation agencies

A translation agency is a company that can take charge of your project from A to Z. Translation companies differ in terms of size and mode of operation:

  • Small agencies

In this category, two or three people work together to create a small translation agency. They are often former colleagues or collaborators specialising in a particular field who choose to set up their own business.

  • Translators’ networks

This concept is the basis on which BeTranslated was created: several professional translators pool their knowledge and experience to create a network based on trust and quality. This is a different way of managing a small agency. Generally, the members of this type of network still produce their own translations. They always proofread all the translations that pass through their hands.

  • Medium-sized agencies

This type of agency might have five to twenty employees, who will include not just project managers but also specialists in desktop publishing, web formats and localisation. They work in the same office, know each other personally and meet every day. Everyone has a specific role and represents a key element of the translation process. Medium-sized agencies are usually created by professional translators who know their way round the industry and entrust projects to fully-qualified independent translators.

  • Large agencies

Here at least a hundred employees work together at several offices spread around the world. The scenario here is quite different, and the larger agencies may not even be created or managed by professional translators or people with experience of the industry. The “business” side tends to take priority over the human aspect and professional fulfilment.

  • Mega-agencies

Unlike small agencies, these huge corporations, such as SDL or Lionbridge, are real translation factories. Located in many countries, they manage hundreds of projects every day and divide tasks between their large numbers of employees. They have huge networks of translators working in every conceivable language combination and specialising in particular fields. This enables them to manage many different projects, regardless of the subject.

Translation services: it’s up to you!

From freelance translators to mega-agencies, you’re spoilt for choice! The final decision to entrust your documents to one type of service provider or another is up to you, depending on your needs and expectations. Every provider has a different approach, so think about the type of service you want when making your choice.

What do you think of this presentation? Have you ever used the services of one of these providers? Share your experience with us!

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