Translation: Choosing between in-house or outsourced

There is no set formula for calculating whether your company should hire an in-house translator or outsource your translations. As with most other business decisions, the answer will depend on your specific business, such as your business sector, goals, budget, etc. In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the most important factors to consider when choosing between in-house or outsourced translation.


Translation quantity

One of the most important factors to consider is the amount of text that your company needs translated. If the total number of words adds up to only several hundred per month, it would be best to outsource the translation; there is no need to take on the costs of an additional employee for such small project. If the total number of words adds up to several hundred thousand per month, it is definitely worth calculating the cost-effectiveness of hiring an in-house translator. In that case, the company should consider not only the dollar amount of the translator’s salary, but also any worker’s benefits (healthcare, paid vacation, etc.), and overhead.

Translation frequency/duration

Another factor to consider is the frequency and/or duration of any translation project. Is this a reoccurring or one-time translation project? Will this translation project last several months or several days? In general, if your company has frequent, long-term demand for translation, hiring an in-house translation will probably be more cost-efficient and effective. But many companies also work on a long-term basis with outside language contractors.

Number of languages

Companies should also consider the number of languages required for translation. A company that requires a significant amount of translation in a single language may be justified in hiring an in-house translator. But a company that requires translation in 10 different languages may find it infeasible for various reasons (i.e., budget, office space) to hire up to 10 in-house translators.

Translation integration

One factor that should be taken into consideration is whether translation is an integral part of your business. If the type of project requires close collaboration with the translator, it may make more sense for the company to employ an in-house translator. In-house translators are better integrated into a company’s team, and can work with staff more effectively and more efficiently than a contracted linguist.

Business sector

Your business may require translations in very technical fields that require linguists who are not only excellent translators but are also experts in the field. In some cases, the company may have to make an investment in training a qualified linguist. To ensure a return on that investment, the company would want to ensure that the translator is always available for the company’s translation projects; the simplest way would be to hire the translator. That said, there are many translation agencies that specialize in certain fields. These agencies use highly-trained and experienced resources that are extremely knowledgeable about the field. They can employ terminology and translation memory specific to your company without any problems.


Some companies may prefer to handle translations in-house if the documents are highly confidential. This may also be the case when security is of extreme important to the project. Of course, issues of confidentiality and security can be easily handled when dealing with outsourced translation work. Companies can have translation agencies and translators sign confidentiality agreements. Contracted linguists can work on site, or directly on the client server to minimize security risks.

As we wrote earlier, the answer to whether your company should hire in-house staff or outsource translation work will depend enormously on your company’s specific situation. You should also keep in mind that many companies find that what works best for them is to use a combination of in-house and outsourced resources. That might mean having a single in-house translator who, in addition to his or her translation duties, may coordinate outside linguists for other languages or fields of specialization. Or, that might mean developing a highly integrated relationship with a translation agency.


If you’re still uncertain about whether your company needs to hire an in-house translator or should outsource the translation work, contact us. We’d be happy to offer you our expertise in translation to help you find the best solution for your translation needs.

We welcome you to share your experience in the comments section below if your company has employed in-house translation staff, has outsourced translation work, or has used a combination of the two. What worked for you?