GTE Localize

Should You Hire In-house Or Freelance Translators?

Posted by Anne Q. on November 22, 2019.

With the proliferation of the Internet and digital devices, more and more translators work as freelancers, making the freelance marketplaces more dynamic and providing a highly qualified workforce for translation projects. The question is, with the increasing popularity of freelance translators, do translation agencies need to hire in-house translators? Or they can outsource all projects to freelancers? To find the answer, you should consider the pros and cons of each based on the following 4 categories.

1. Availability

Having in-house translators means translation agencies can easily handle urgent projects. Instead of finding and testing freelancers, they can just assign the task to an internal translator who can jump right into the project. Working with freelancers might be more risky and challenging. They receive tasks from many clients. If your agency contacts them 5 minutes later than other agencies or end clients, they might already work on other projects. So here’s a tip to work effectively with freelance translators – always reach out to them in advance.


2. Costs

It is a common belief that taking advantage of in-house translators can save you a great deal of money compared to using freelance translators. Well, the truth is quite different. When hiring in-house translators, translation agencies deal with hidden costs such as insurance, over-time costs, recruiting and training costs, etc. What’s more, in the low season when there are not many orders, translation agencies still have to pay salaries for their in-house translators. Meanwhile, they only pay for freelancers’ completed work without any extra costs. In general, hiring freelance translators might be a more cost-effective choice.


3. Control

Translation agencies can build an in-house team for their dedicated accounts which may require special requests and tools as well as high confidentiality. The reason is to take full control of the operation upon these accounts. A team of in-house linguists takes full responsibility for whole long-term projects to guarantee quality and consistency. If these projects are assigned to freelancers, it’s quite hard for the agencies to manage.


4. Capacity, Expertise, Languages, and Services

Capacity – Most translation agencies only hire a small number of in-house translators to save costs. Understandably, these internal human resources are considerably limited. To meet a huge number of translation requests from clients, translation agencies have to seek extra help from freelance translators regularly. In contrast, when using freelance translators, translation agencies can hire a lot of translators to handle great capacity. There is a pool of freelance translators from every corner of the world that you can easily find suitable ones to work on your projects.

Languages and Expertise – To guarantee the accuracy of translated documents, one translator only focuses on specific languages and expertise. Translators excelling in translating and creating English to Vietnamese content for websites are unlikely to provide accurate English to Japanese technical translations. So in-house translators’ language and expertise are limited. Meanwhile, based on the language pairs and expertise required, translation agencies can choose and hire subject matter translators. Or in other words, the language and expertise when using freelancers are limitless.

Services – The translation process involves many steps other than translation, editing, and proofreading. While freelance linguists have a tendency to focus on one among these three basic steps, translation agencies go one step further. They also deal with desktop publishing, language quality assurance, or linguistic sign-off. To put it in other words, they provide clients with a whole process of translation and localization. Even when clients only order one or two steps in the process, reliable translation agencies still add more value to your projects by conducting Language Quality Assurance (LQA) after each step.


So, Which is the Best?

At this point, you can see that both in-house and freelance translators have their own advantages and disadvantages. It is quite challenging to tell which one is a better choice. The answer depends on your agency’s strategy and financial resources. If your agency has a tight budget and wants to save costs, hiring freelancers is recommended. In other cases, you should consider hiring both in-house and freelance linguists. In-house translators provide most ordered language pairs and expertise while freelancers are used for less common requests from clients.

At GTE Localize, we work with a large number of in-house translators and cooperate with a pool of freelancers. We focus on Asian Languages with a wide range of industries to meet your various translation and localization demands.