Translator Spanish to English / Translation to Spanish: When to Hire an In-house Translator

If your company regularly needs translation to Spanish, you might be thinking of hiring an in-house translator. But here are some factors to keep in mind before you go forward. At the bottom of the page, you'll also find information about typical translator rates and more translation help. (Want a free online Spanish translation?)

Should you hire an in-house Spanish translator?

Should you hire someone to translate Spanish in-house? Many companies with regular translation work just assume they need in-house translation staff, when they would be better off working with freelancers. The economics of this are fairly simple to calculate.

1) Calculate the approximate cost of freelance translation to Spanish.

- Estimate how many words you translate per year, or during the time period for which you are considering hiring the translator, only including translations in the language combination/s that the potential in-house translator will be able to cover. (Assume that the potential hiree will only be able to translate competently into one language, his or her native tongue. However, some candidates may be able to translate from more than one language, if that is relevant for your needs.)

- Find the average freelance per word rate for that language combination. (See sample translator rates). Multiply that rate by the number of words you have estimated that you will need.

2) Calculate the approximate cost of an employee.

When estimating the cost of the prospective employee, take into account salary and benefits, as well as infrastructure costs such as a work space and computer station.

3) Compare the two costs.

Which option is less expensive? That will tell you the option that makes more economic sense... taking into account the following additional factors:

Other pros and cons

- Remember that an in-house translator is only one person. He or she will have sick days and vacation days. And he or she can only translate X number of words per day, even if your Spanish translation needs are higher than that during a specific time period. On the other hand, if you have low-volume translation days, you will still pay this translator his or her salary even when he or she is doing nothing.

Read more on translation timing in the Translator Spanish to English Guide

"For general business correspondence, it might take me one hour for 600 words or something, but, for instance, a literary text or a really well honed marketing text can take much longer, so it really varies a lot."

- Eva Obregon, Translator Spanish to English

More from Eva Obregon, Translator Spanish to English

In most companies, the volume of translation need work not steady. There are peaks and valleys. There will therefore be many times when your need is either greater or less than the translator's capacity.

On the other hand, if you are working with freelancers, you can add more translators whenever you have a high volume, and you only pay for the time when they are actually working.

- If you have many short, urgent Spanish translations, an in-house translator can be an efficient option because he or she is right there, available, and will not apply the minimum fees that agencies and freelancers often charge for a small translation to Spanish.

- You have more control over the time of an in-house translator than a freelancer. A freelancer is also doing work for other clients and may be unavailable when you need him or her.

- If your company requires translations in multiple languages, it may be unrealistic to hire an in-house translator for each of them, especially if some of the languages are low-volume.

- You will have direct management over the in-house translator. On the one hand, this gives you more control over the translator's work. On the other hand, managing the translator can be additional work for you. It can particularly be a strain during low-volume times, when the translator may not have work to do and may expect to be "kept busy."

- An in-house translator can be trained in your company's activity, corporate terminology, etc. At the same time, you can also look for a freelancer who is knowledgeable about the relevant field, and a good freelancer can be asked to follow a corporate glossary or to stay consistent with the terminology and style of company materials in that person's language.

- If there is a possibility of low-volume times when the translator will be underutilized, consider whether there are other tasks which this translator can do, such as providing foreign language customer support. When you calculate the economics of hiring the translator, take into account the potential cost savings of having the translator take on these additional tasks.

But remember that the translator can only do one thing at once. If the need for translation to Spanish goes up, the translator will not be able to answer telephones and translate effectively at the same time. Also, always communicate possible additional responsibilities to the prospective in-house translator before hiring the person. A professional translator may resent being asked to take on tasks outside of his or her profession.

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