In a previous blog article we discussed how there is no independent licensing agency or regulatory-approved certificate for translators. This means procurement professionals must do their own research to find high-quality translators. This is a tall order indeed. The good news is when you choose a language service provider (LSP) you trust, it can really take the pressure off.

At DTS Language Services, Inc., we listen to your specific qualifications and provide you with high-quality translators. We welcome an open dialogue and a transparent process on both sides, so we can decide together who is a great fit for your project. In what follows, we go over the main questions to ask your provider to ensure you are working with high-quality translators.


First-rate medical language services require a professional skill set, usually acquired through years of experience in the field, extensive education, and immersion. Translation and localization professionals employed by global life sciences organizations are called upon to convey important content. This means capturing the context, nuance, tone, and detail of the message is crucial. It’s not an overstatement to suggest medical translations call for a quality standard higher than the minimum.

10 Questions to Ask

Borrowing a page from the Language Services Procurement Committee comprised of officials from several federal agencies, we put together the following list of questions to make your search for high-quality translators easier:

  1. How does the provider recruit translators?

The best LSPs recruit translators on an ongoing basis from a wide range of sources. They also establish ties with key professional organizations and reputable training programs. 90% of the translators and localization experts at DTS are vetted professional subject matter experts. While we do have some in-house language support staff, we are not shy about using outsourcing partners we trust.

This makes sense from a quality assurance perspective. For best results, an English-to-Swedish translation project should be translated by a native Swedish speaker, for instance. Working together with our outsourcing partners, we gain access to native speakers who are also incredibly skilled translators. Our global team allows us to recruit high-quality translators with the right qualifications whether they live in Sweden, in the U.S., or anywhere around the world.

  1. Does the provider screen translator candidates?

Although all agencies establish minimum requirements for translators, these criteria vary from provider to provider. Look for an LSP that screens for language skills in both active languages. You may also find success looking at indicators such as years of experience, formal education in translation, and membership in language industry professional organizations.

In addition, you will want a translator with subject matter expertise. We screen for translators who have professional experience in the medical or life science fields, for instance. Getting an accurate translation often depends on context that only a professional working in the field would understand and of course, actual experience translating documents in these fields is also a huge plus for us.

  1. Does the provider recruit translators with professional training?

Training is crucial in all industries and the language industry is no exception. For this reason, we recruit translators with advanced training and degrees related to language, translation, and also the life sciences. While we do consider the formal education of potential translators, our clients find that one of the most important pieces of training when it comes to language support in the life sciences is experience in the field of expertise. Most of our translators are highly experienced in both their subject matter of expertise and in medical translations.

  1. Does the provider value continuing education?

It’s important to find a provider who recognizes the importance of ongoing education to keep skills sharp. At DTS, we ask translator interviewees about their specific goals when it comes to continuing education. Thinking about the future is one mark of a professional who cares about constantly improving the quality of her work.

  1. Does the provider have a self-certification process?

While some countries in Europe and Latin America, for example, require translators to be certified by independent regulatory agencies, there is no such legal requirement within the U.S. However, DTS Languages, Inc. does go through a legal notarization process and this process includes self-certification. We have our own internal system of checks-and-balances to ensure our clients get results they can be proud of each and every time.

  1. What code of ethics are the interpreters and translators asked to follow?

Translators deal with sensitive information on a daily basis. While no professional code of ethics can completely eliminate bad apples from slipping through the cracks, having rules in place does ensure everyone is on the same page when it comes to expectations.

  1. What protocols are translators expected to use?

Many providers have developed internal protocols used by employees and contractors. You should make sure your provider’s protocols are consistent with your internal needs. For example, a protocol might instruct the translator as to what to do if there is a communication breakdown. Being aware of these protocols yourself can prevent miscommunication and confusion.

  1. How does the provider deliver quality assurance for translations?

Because getting an accurate translation is a complex process, every language service provider has provisions in place for quality assurance. Still it’s important to go over these provisions with your LSP. Additionally, the cost of high-quality language services must be backed up by assurance that the services provided are accurate and reliable. This is one of the most important aspects of the translation process.

  1. What mechanisms does the provider have to instruct translators about specific policies and procedures of your organization?

A training mechanism should be in place to ensure that translators fit into the culture of your organization. If you already have established a process for onboarding subcontractors, it may be of use here. Work with your provider to make the translation team aware of all relevant policies and procedures.

  1. Does the provider specialize in any particular field or industry?

Some providers serve all areas: legal, medical, social services, financial, customer service, educational, etc. Others, however, specialize in only one or perhaps two language service areas. Regardless, you must make sure that the provider expertise aligns itself with your needs.

At DTS, we cover all areas of life sciences. We work with local and international clients in pharmaceuticals, medical device manufacturing, clinical research, patient recruitment, and healthcare. The advantage of working with an agency specializing in one language service area is that we know our way around the industry.

Don’t you need someone with our expertise on your side? Our pool of highly qualified translators have been vetted, so we can connect you with professionals with the right experience to get your job done. Contact us today to request a free quote or sample translation.

10 Tips For Your Next Translation Project (Video)

10 Tips For Your Next Translation Project (Video)

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