Translators work with the written word, converting text from a source language into a target language. This is far more than replacing one word with another. The translator must also convey the style, tone, and intent of the text, while taking into account differences of culture and dialect.
Often, the finished document should read as if it had originally been written in the target language for the target audience. But this is not always the case. Highly specialized content may require the translator to retain elements of the source language culture in the target language translation. A professional translator will have the expertise to know the best approach for the translation.
Some translators may be able to understand several different source languages, but in general they have just one target language—typically their native language.
Translators not only understand the source language but also write extremely well in the target language.
Like many professional writers, translators specialize in certain subject areas, such as law, medicine, business, banking, technology, and science. Specialization requires an in-depth knowledge of the subject and its terminology in both the source and target languages
Some translators price their work based on the number of words in the source language, others charge by the number of words in the target language. Some base their fees on hourly estimates. When you need a fast turnaround on a translation project, ask the translator if he or she would be willing to work longer hours for an extra fee, frequently called "rush" charges.
Rates also vary by specialty and language. In general, translating a local news article will cost less than a technical document, while an English-into-Spanish translation will usually cost less than an English-into-Chinese translation of the same document.