Understanding the 3 Main Types of Professional Translation Services

Professional Translation Services

When deciding to get a document or other content translated, selecting the right type of professional translation services is essential for a successful outcome. As such, it is important to understand the primary translation options, particularly because the scope of the project, specific requirements, and expectations will be different, depending on the type of translation selected.

Here are the three main types of professional translation services.

Industry-Specific Translations

As the name suggests, industry-specific translations relate to professional translation services that are conducted within a specific field or industry. Since every industry has its own unique set of concepts and terminology, these translations are often specialized.

Industry-specific translations are typically needed by businesses that want to sell their products and services, communicate, or share information across borders. This means that translators must be well versed and have translation experience in the industry they will be working within.

For instance, legal translations are particularly specialized since legal documents usually have very specific requirements. Because even a single translation error can lead to court challenges, it is important to work with a professional translation company that has expertise in the legal industry.

Translation service providers often have their services segmented by industries, such as: life sciences and pharmaceutical, including clinical trials and medical devices; education and learning; legal; financial; technology; automotive; e-commerce; and training and hospitality.

Certified Translations

When a translation needs to be certified, the translation company will provide a signed declaration that states that the completed translation is an accurate representation of the source document. Certified translations are often necessary to submit an assortment of documents that are written in other languages.

Here are some examples of when certified translation services are necessary:

  • In the medical industry, healthcare needs while traveling to foreign countries can be complicated by language barriers.
  • Legal documents, such as adoption papers, business contracts, and court transcripts, as well as birth, marriage, or death certificates.
  • Regulatory documents, including protocols, research data forms, and informed consents.
  • Criminal record checks that are required for visa applications and human resources documentation.

Another major area that requires certified documents is immigration, especially in the United States, which mandates that all documentation be accompanied by a certified English translation.

Notarized Translations

The third main type of translation is notarized translation, which is often confused with a certified translation. For notarized translations, the translation company will request the services of a notary public to authenticate documents; a notary public is sanctioned by the government to oversee and validate certain legal requirements.

As part of the notarized translation, the translator will sign a written statement that verifies that the translation is accurate. In some cases, the translator will be required to swear under oath to testify to the accuracy of their translation. Following that sworn statement, the notary public will confirm the translator’s identity and stamp their seal on the document.

Ultimately, the notarized translation does not certify the accuracy of the translation; instead, its purpose is to verify the translator’s identity and have the notary public’s seal placed on a document. One of the main reasons to get a translation notarized is that doing so adds a layer of security that helps to prevent fraudulent signatures associated with a translation. By validating the translator’s identity, there is no room for falsehoods about who actually conducted the translation.

Another reason is that notarizing a document means that a transaction was official, which is particularly important when presenting the document in another country. This is often necessary for education-based documents, such as foreign diplomas or high school transcripts.

As companies expand into global markets, knowing which type of professional translation services will suit their needs will help ensure that they get the most from their translation resources. By understanding the options, they can better articulate their needs to their professional translation services company and know what to expect from the end product.


When deciding to get a document translated, selecting the right type of professional translation services is essential for a successful outcome. As such, it is important to understand the primary translation options, which are industry-specific, certified, and notarized, and when to use each one.

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