If you are looking for an English to Chinese translator, you need someone who understands both languages equally well. That may seem pretty obvious. But the key word here is understanding.
Let’s get the word “trunk.” It may be an elephant trunk or a large box with a hinged cover for storing or transporting clothes, or the woody stem of a tree, or the main part of an artery, or the body of a person or animal separated from the limbs or from the head. or the trunk of a car, or related to major transportation routes or communication networks, such as a trunk call, for those old enough to remember!
But do you need someone whose mother tongue is English and they speak Chinese, or vice versa, or someone who has two languages, that is, bilingual?
Your starting point depends on what you want to translate.
Is ‘publication’ formal or informal? Is it a business document, a press release, a website, a blog? With what industry or profession does it relate – for example, legal, medical, maritime? And, very important, who is the target audience? And what is the budget? And schedule? Avoid getting in the position where you need something translated urgently.
If you are looking for translation services English to Chinese, the implication is that you do not speak enough Chinese, which means you would not be able to spot errors, so your research should focus on a company or individual with a proven history.
Self-employed translators are an option. If they do not have extensive overheads, this can be to their advantage. But check your credentials. And do they charge more for quick returns?
Translation companies can be very expensive because they often have overheads, they charge for the number of words and once again for urgent work (this does not mean that freelance translators work differently). And they are not always 100% accurate. There are industry standard rates, depending on your country and region. Again, you need to check them out.
Translating from English to Chinese is not exactly the same as translating from Chinese to English, because a translator can be stronger in one of the languages. That does not mean they could not do a very good job. Sometimes bilingual speakers are a little less strong in both languages. That does not mean they could not do a good job either!
Translation is a highly skilled task and takes many years of study to be proficient. Generally, most translators are worth what is paid. In conclusion, think: what you want to translate is the vocabulary of “specialist” nature, your target audience, check credentials, avoid urgent jobs and search industry indexes.