This is by far the most important question someone should ask when seeking the services of a translator. There are plenty of native speakers out there who would be happy to get paid to translate, however, without the proper training, could easily leave you in the lurch by doing a poor job. There are simply too many fine details and variables that go into an accurate translation, and whether it’s academic, business, or medical, you will want someone who is reliable and trustworthy when it comes to providing you with solid translations. Choosing incorrectly could cost you time, money, legal status, and perhaps even your health.
Look for Certification
This is the first big indicator of someone you can rely on. For USCIS needs, it’s a requirement. A certified translator is a professional who has gone through the American Translators Associations strict certification process to come out with flying colors. ATA translators belong to the association in order to stay abreast of changes in their field, and are required to maintain professional development to maintain their accreditation. Look for the credentials- if they’re there, move onto the next step.
Often overlooked when investigating potential translators, the Better Business Bureau keep tabs on professionals to ensure they are worthy in the eyes of their clients. The BBB keeps track of things such as quality of work, complaints levied against a translation business, and a work history to make sure the company you are doing business with is legitimate. The call is free, and the BBB has offices all across the country. Check in with the one closest to where your potential translator is located in order to verify you want to work with them.
Voice of the People
Lastly, check up on the professional references a translation service has in the form of customer feedback. Take some of these with a grain of salt, as some customers can’t be satisfied no matter what- but look at the long record for a pattern. If the translator has mostly positive feedback, chances are you are looking at someone who will do right by you. If the majority of feedback is negative, take a second look at them before committing your funds to hiring them. There are plenty of translation services out there trying to earn your business, so choose the one that will perform up to your expectations.