5 Questions To Ask When Hiring A Translator

Thinking of going global? Congrats! What’s the first step to success? Speak the language! But how do you know how to choose a qualified translator?

Read below for five key questions that you should ask a translator.

1. What qualifications do they have? This can be a degree in translation, professional certification, extensive time in the target country and/or references from past clients. Unfortunately, proficiency in the foreign language is not enough. Translation is a business, and you want someone who not only knows the language, but also understands the culture.

2. Do they have experience? Ask how many years they’ve worked professionally, what types of translation they’ve done, and if they specialize in your field.

3. Do they use CAT tools? This is a big one. A CAT (computer-assisted translation) tool does four things. It creates consistency, saves you money, eliminates translator errors and preserves complex formatting. Read more here about why CAT tools are a must-have in any translation project.

4. What is the turnaround, and the cost? Check the translator’s availability ahead of time and make sure you can both agree on a deadline before beginning work. And ask for an estimate so that you know your costs from the start. Note: translations are charged by the word. Weird, I know! The translator will quote you a per word rate. To see the word count in a PowerPoint document, go to File > Properties > Statistics. In a Word document, it’s Tools > Word Count. Or simply ask the translator to run an analysis of all your documents at once, which will generate a total word count in a table that the translator can send to you.

5. Will they agree to a test translation? Asking a potential translator to submit a short test translation is standard practice in the industry. A typical test is 300 words, and you choose the text.


Hiring a translator can feel overwhelming, but choosing the right person is key to achieving powerful global content. Ask questions, express your needs and enjoy the end product!

For more information on why you should invest in translation services, read my post [Five Reasons Why You Should Translate Your Website], or if you’d like to know more about my translation services, drop me a line! I’d love to hear from you.


To read more posts, click on the + symbol at the bottom of the page, and choose a title under Recent Posts.

Cynthia Pecking is a professional French and German translator specializing in creative content and promotional materials, with a Masters of Arts in Translation from the Monterey Institute of International Studies in California. She has spent the past ten years helping clients expand their message. She is based in Hattingen, Germany, where she lives with her husband and two children.

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