How To Hire A Translator Online

by MidgeFragnet

You haven’t seen the translator and little do you know about the website he works through. So how do you figure out whether he is the right one to hire online?

When it comes to hiring a professional translator online, be extremely cautious as to whom you see and where you see. A website with a decent design and a long list of native translators can go poof tomorrow after taking your money. Translators can also do the same, and there is evidence that hundreds of businesses have lost thousands of dollars from scammers, poor translators and unprofessional translators.

Having worked in several translation websites for 2 years now, I have come to know what it takes to find, interview and hire a professional native translator. First we’ll go through the reasons as to why should we hire translators online, and then we’ll hit upon how to deal with translators on the internet – choosing, hiring (and firing).

Have you ever been scammed by a translator?

Why hire translators online?

Top 3 Reasons
  1.  It saves time and money
  2. It saves time and money
  3. It saves time and money!

No, I’m serious. The only reason why hiring a translator online is fruitful is that it saves a great chunk of time and money, which you can easily invest in other productive works. Here’s how:


You don’t need to set any official 9-5 time for interviewing with translators over the internet. You also don’t need to set the interview in the working days. If you know where to find (which you’ll know later in this page), then you can easily set aside any time, any place, any day. As long as you have an internet connection and a laptop, you are good to go. This saves a LOT of time for business professionals who have hectic schedule. This time can easily be invested in planning new projects, working on urgent deliveries etc.


There is also the (important) money factor. Offline translation agencies with real office rent to pay and real staffs to feed depend on the commission they receive from the clients. Websites do have staff, but most of them are there just for moderation and maintenance. Plus, talk about the paper work and all those filing and billing the staffs should do. In case of any website, the website itself does the real job – processing payments, showcasing translator profiles, generating invoice, hosting the files etc. The cost of running a website with over 10000 translator profiles is far less than running a translation agency with that number of native translators.


Another way you save money and time is through the quality of the translated document. It is hard to find a native Nigerian translator in California. When you choose a translator online, you get to choose an experienced translator who lives in the same country. Now there is no way you get substandard Nigerian translation from a native Nigerian translator who is living in Nigeria for over 20 years.

Choosing Translators and Websites

A trust-worthy website should have the following features
  • The client can choose the translator himself
  • The client is free to see his portfolio, resume and work history
  • The client can interview the translator (either verbally or not)
  • The client is protected by neutral party (like Escrow)
  • No/Low upfront payments for translation

Top 3 Websites To Hire Translators

1. Upwork

Upwork (previously oDesk) is a freelance marketplace about everything. The feature that makes it easy to hire professional translators is the transparency and employer protection. While posting any translation jobs, a client can choose it to be either hourly or fixed-price. The contractor should use oDesk’s software called “oDesk Team” to get paid. What that software does is take snapshots of the translator’s desktop or work screen. This way, clients are protected against fake time addition. And you pay only for the hours logged – no more and no less. If you think the translator has done nothing, you can file a dispute and the oDesk handles everything.

And if you choose a fixed-price job, you have complete control over payment. If you don’t want to pay for the work done, then don’t. However, you have to choose the project budget and agree to it before hiring the translator.

More reasons why you should choose oDesk:

  • See translator’s feedback, work experience and portfolio
  • Invite translators to bid on the job
  • Interview even on Skype
  • Choose either fixed-price or hourly job
  • No hassle on invoicing or billing – just hook up your credit card and oDesk does everything
  • oDesk is free – it takes its 10% commission from the project budget or hourly rate of the translator
  • Hire translators from all over the world (they call it global workforce)

Interviewing on oDesk

Invite the translator to a Skype session!
Use Skype to talk directly to the translator
Use Skype to talk directly to the tra...

How to get a bargain at oDesk

This is only relevant if the translator meets a strict deadline of 200 words per hour. A professional translator can easily meet this rate, and sometimes even faster. We will use his fast rate to get discounts. The trick is to convince him for hourly rate of less than $10. That way, you get discount for every project of every word length because the normal rate is $0.05 per word. For example, you have a 200 word document to be translated. Normally, the translation rate is $0.05 per word, which becomes $10 for your entire project. The trick is simple – set the hourly rate to less than $10!

2. One Hour Translation


OneHourTranslation (OHT) is an online translation marketplace. Although the translation rate might be higher than what you would get from oDesk, OHT is all about quality and professional translation. Every translation project – no matter how small or big it is, is carefully handled by the quality control department to ensure that only native speakers translate that document. If OHT has no native translator for that language, it does not forward it to non-native translators. Rather, the translation is cancelled – 100% quality is what OHT is committed to.


And that is why; One Hour Translation is the ultimate destination for reputed companies like The Coca Cola Company, IBM, eToro and Microsoft.



Why choose OHT?

  • Reputed online marketplace
  • OHT handles everything – just upload your file and provide credit/debit card information
  • Projects translated only by professional native translators
  • Translators only qualify after submitting CV and passing exam
  • Strict deadlines requirements: 200 words = 1 hour
  • Fast deliveries and turnaround time
  • Free translation from another native translator if you aren't satisfied with the translation
  • Add proofreading from other native translators with a single click!


3. TranslatorsCafe DOT com

Translators Cafe
Translators Cafe

Translators Café is a website I have recently joined and honestly speaking, I haven’t done a lot of projects there. But it is a 100% FREE website to find and hire translators from all over the world. You get to look at their ratings, work experiences, resume and hire them at a less expensive price. However, the website does not handle anything when it comes to security, payment processing, billing, invoicing etc. Everything is done between you and the translator. This is a (small) flaw of the website. Translators can create a premium account with fake certificates; ask for upfront payments and run away another day. If you’re cautious enough, then Translators Café will get you a better deal. But be prepared to handle everything and be clear with the translator – the deadline, upfront payments, method of payment, transparency in hours worked etc.

My recommendation when it comes to hiring translators online

Quality v/s Price v/s Transparency

If quality is your priority regardless of money, then the place is OHT. Every translation must pass the exam, show valid identification document to show the country they belong to and must strictly deliver within the deadline. A professional translation at OHT completes a 2000 word translation within a day taking 8 hours per day workload.

oDesk is where you might get a cheaper price from the native translators but you have to choose them at your own risk. Talk to them personally about the deadlines and also ask them to use the oDesk Team software while they are translating the document no matter it is a fixed-price job or hourly. Tip:- You might get a cheaper deal if you choose hourly job as it may reduce the price per source word of the document to be translated.

At TranslatorsCafe, a quality translation is not guaranteed, the same for deadlines. As a result, TC is for translation seekers who want the cheapest translation deal.


For 100% quality and professional translation, look no further and join

For 100% inexpensive translation, go for

For 100% transparency in the work (and some discount), go for

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Updated: 07/20/2015, MidgeFragnet
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What are your tips on hiring a translator?

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MidgeFragnet on 02/05/2013

Thank you Mira, appreciate that you liked it so much.

Mira on 02/05/2013

Great article, SuramyaKh!

MidgeFragnet on 06/29/2012

Katie, you're welcome! Glad I could help from potential translation scams. And thanks for your comment!

MidgeFragnet on 06/29/2012

Jasmine, by native language, I mean target language of the translation. If your expertise is French language and are a citizen of France, then opportunity is first given to you than other translators who are not the citizens of France for translation of English-French.

There is a place to hook up your certificates for your language skills. So add them and ask the OHT team to review them. They are really helpful and will reply you really soon. If you are not a native speaker, then I guess you have to give an exam. BTW, I work with Nepali and English. Although the demand of this language pair is not as high as Spanish and German, I get a project or two every week or so - so it is more of a side income than my regular income. However, some Spanish translators reach the daily limit of 2000 words every day which is more than $100 per day.

All the best Jasmine, I wish for your success at OHT!

Jasmine on 06/29/2012

OHT sounds like a great job opportunity, but I'm confused about the rule on giving translations only to native speakers. In translations, you always deal with two languages at the same time - you need to be a native speaker for which one of these two? Honestly, I think that's not fair. I studied two foreign languages at university and hold a Master's degree for both of them. There are a lot of people who are native speakers of a certain language, but they are simply not qualified for such a demanding job. Also, there are a lot of native speakers who teach their language to foreign learners and qualified teachers whose native language is not the target language simply don't get those jobs. It's so sad.

P.S. What languages do you work with?

katiem2 on 06/29/2012

Very interesting, thanks for making us a more knowledgeable community who now understands how to hire an online translator. You never know when you might need one and now we can avoid the pit falls of scams.

MidgeFragnet on 06/29/2012

Hi Jasmine, thanks for your comment. But 1 euro per hour is like really low. Even if you're just a native speaker and have no experience/training, translation is a big deal of work. So you must charge at least 5 (or even 6 or 7 if you get good feedback). May I recommend OHT? They have straight $0.05 per word, which amounts to about $10 if you can process 200 words per hour.

Jasmine on 06/28/2012

I tried oDesk, but for giving (not looking for) translating services. The prices people were ready to offer for such a demanding job were really ridiculous. One time, I ended up before closing a deal with someone for 1 euro per hour of work (a little more than $1), but my husband seriously offered to pay not to do the job, and that's when I actually decided to close my account there.

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