Whether you need a document translated, are seeking the services of an interpreter for visitors or a conference, or have another translation need, Global Operations has compiled a list of reputable companies from which to choose. Units may choose to work with a provider not listed below; this list has been compiled as a convenience for those who don’t already have a preferred vendor.
Profile (includes link to obtain quote)
Exclusively supports nonprofits and mission-driven organizations. Provides non-machine based translation for printed materials and offers virtual interpretation services. Small business. Woman-owned. No minimums or rush fees. Half-day interpretation services available.
Offers interpretation services from seven large-scale contact centers staffed w/CyraCom employees (vs. a network of freelance linguists). Fast turnarounds for quote requests. Dedicated project manager for Cornell plus free translation portal access and no project management fees. Ongoing training, quality monitoring, and several ISO certifications.
Offers the standard translation and interpretation services but also specializes in language training. Typical translation jobs are assigned one translator and one proofreader. Their philosophy focuses on hiring subject matter experts who freelance as linguists. 5% non-profit discount. Half-day interpretation services available.
The “Uber” of translation services, focused on streamlined technology solutions to interface with clients. With a primary focus on document translation, clients can upload their documents, receive fast quotes, and interact with the linguist assigned to their project.
World’s largest translation provider with enterprise offerings across the spectrum of translation services. All linguists are ISO certified, native speakers with 15+ years of experience. Subject matter experts are assigned to projects. 10% non-profit discount.
What to know about translation and interpretation service providers:
- Most companies offer a range of services (document translation, interpretation, website localization, etc.) rather than specialize in one area.
- Some companies will offer a linguist-review service where you can provide a previously translated document and they will review for accuracy.
- Reputable companies will assign native speakers of your target language who are subject matter experts in the project’s academic field.
- Many providers will work with linguists who live abroad and freelance their translation services rather than employ full-time in-house translators.
- Some companies will assign a translator to complete the work while others will assign a translator, editor, and proof-reader as quality assurance.
- Linguist certification can vary from company to company, with many requiring the translator to be certified in their home country. Some of the top companies will have ISO certification, which is from the International Organization for Standardization.
- Document translations are typically priced per word with an average of $.20/word. The overall cost will also be dependent on the language (Swahili is more expensive than Spanish), and the content (creative writing is more expensive than roughly translating an email).
- Most document translations will have a minimum cost of $100-$200.
- The industry standard for turnaround time is 2000-2500 words/ day, but rush orders are generally offered at a financial and quality cost.
- “Translation memory” is common among providers and refers to storing previously translated material for each client. If a client has multiple projects with similar content, there is no need to translate twice, and the per-word savings are passed on.
- Discounts can often be found when there is a large volume of projects and if there is a lot of repetition across projects (e.g., legal contract templates).
On interpretation services, specifically:
- Translations are for written text. Interpretations are for oral speech.
- There are two types of interpretation:
- consecutive interpretation, which can sometimes be done by one interpreter repeating back in a second language (depending on event length); and
- simultaneous interpretation, which typically requires hiring two interpreters for any situation over 20-30 minutes long. Simultaneous interpreters typically switch off every 15-20 minutes.
- In early 2021, top U.S.-based interpreters typically charge ~$1200/day each, with 2+ interpreters required for most events, and many interpreters will only accept full-day payments and may consider 6 or 6.5 hours of interpreting to be a full workday (with multiple breaks). Some companies are willing to accept half-day payments.
- When hiring interpreters and considering quotes, consider that it typically takes interpreters significant time to prepare for your event, including reviewing any meeting documents you send in advance to learn specialized terminology, connecting with any other interpreters to establish communication signals to use with each other during the event, and potentially attending a pre-event meeting for tech checks and interpreter briefing (recommended). Confirm if a pre-event briefing meeting / tech check is included in the cost.
- It is not standard in the interpreting industry to request video samples or trial runs. To maximize the likelihood of finding high-quality interpreters without being able to assess their performance in advance, use trusted recommendations or professional services if possible.
- When finalizing pre-event plans with interpreters, consider confirming the following:
- Can you provide the interpreters with any event documents in advance to help familiarize them with specific terms? If so, how far in advance do the interpreters want such materials?
- How can the event planners best reach the interpreters mid-event with any urgent communications and vice versa? (Cell phone texting and/or phone messaging apps are sometimes used.)
- For simultaneous interpretation, confirm which interpreter will start interpreting for the event (and when), and what signals the simultaneous interpreters will use to signal to each other that they are switching off.
- Ask meeting participants connecting virtually to use a headset as this will improve the sound quality to enable simultaneous interpreters to provide better interpretations.
You may also want to consider campus-based resources.