English Italian Translation Guide: How to Choose a Freelance Italian to English Translator

Hiring an Italian to English translator for your English Italian translation? Below, you'll find objective advice to help you make the right choice. At the bottom of the page, you'll find information about typical translator prices, plus other helpful resources. (Or, click here for a free Italian to English translator online.)

How to choose the right Italian language translator

We recommend looking for an experienced translator who is a native speaker of the translation's target language (the final language into which your document is being translated), and who has the necessary background in the field or subject matter of the translation.

Whenever possible, we also suggest finding a second native speaker who can evaluate a sample of the translator's actual translation work. This could be an English Italian translation similar to yours which the translator completed in the past. Alternately, you could ask the translator to complete a short test translation (for example, 300 words) for evaluation purposes.

We also recommend asking the translator to provide client references and then contacting these references to find out their satisfaction with the translator's work.

Here is some more detailed advice about the points to consider when choosing an Italian to English translator.

Language: Although someone who is not a native of a language can learn to write it very well, the writing of a non-native will almost never feel exactly right to a native speaker. You therefore need a translator who will be writing the translation in his or her native language. In other words, if your translation is from English to Italian, your translator should be a native speaker of Italian, not English, and if your translation is from Italian to English, your translator should be a native speaker of English, not Italian.

You also need a translator who has the language skills and subject background to understand the original document completely. If the translator has difficulties understanding the original, there is a risk of translation mistakes or an overly literal English Italian translation.

Experience: For important translations, we'd suggest looking for someone with several years of professional translation experience. With time, training, and practice, professional translators learn how to translate more quickly and fluently, how to research terminology and build a glossary, and how to avoid typical translation mistakes.

If you can find a translator with experience working in the particular subject area of your English Italian translation, that's even better. For highly technical translations, that may be even be a requirement.

So, to translate a legal document, does your Italian to English translator actually have to be a lawyer? Do you need a translator-engineer to translate your engineering report? To answer this type of question, ask yourself: can a non-lawyer or non-engineer understand the original text? Could a non-lawyer/non-engineer communicate this information properly with the help of a good dictionary?

A good translator will know how to research unfamiliar terms. However, some kinds of documents can only be understood and written by someone who has actually studied or worked in the particular field. If your text falls into this category, then you need a translator with a very specific background. If you can't find a translator with the subject area specialization you need, then try to have your translation at least revised by a subject-matter expert.

"You should never stop at academic qualifications; you need a mature translator who really speaks the language. It also depends on what technical area needs to be translated. Every field has a certain set of technical terms that are used. For example, in architecture, there is a certain group of basic terms, and without these, you can't understand other terms. But if you have this basic knowledge, you can expand your knowledge with research. I would give the translator a very targeted test to check knowledge in that area."

- Desiree Cocola, Italian Language Translator

Translation skills: Before hiring a translator for an important project, we always recommend having a native speaker of the translator's language evaluate a sample or test of the translator's work. This sounds like a lot of trouble, but it's the only way to know how well your translator actually translates. Do not assume that someone with a great CV is therefore an excellent Italian to English translator. Our experience, unfortunately, is that this is far from always true.

Ask the translator to complete a short test translation (300 words is a good length), choosing a text that is similar to the document you will translate. Some translators will not be willing to do even a short test for free, in which case, you can offer to pay a small amount for the test translation.

You may have friends or colleagues who are native speakers of the translator's language and can help you evaluate the test results (or if the translation is in your native language, you may be able to evaluate the test yourself). Otherwise, you may have to pay another native translator to do the evaluation.

References: Ask the translator to provide the contact details of past translation clients. Then be sure that you actually follow up with these references. Find out:

  • Were they consistently satisfied with the quality of the translator's English Italian translation work?
  • Was the translator easy to reach? Was communication fluid and professional?
  • Did the translator always follow instructions?
  • Was work always delivered by deadline?

English Italian Translation Guide - More Resources

Compare Italian to English translator prices

Compare the pros and cons of working with a translation agency versus a freelance translator

Find out how to save money on your translation project

See all English Italian translation topics

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