About the only time, you should use one of a plethora of online translation tools is if you are on a one-off visit to a German-speaking country or vice versa and your need for translation is not too serious. You are unlikely to look around for a suitable German English translation service every time you go to the supermarket or book a room in a hotel!
In fact, most English speaking visitors to Germany, Austria or Switzerland will probably find they are embarrassed by the fact that so many people who live in those countries, especially young people, speak English either moderately well or at least well enough to make communication possible. That might not work if your native language is Japanese, Chinese, Korean or even Spanish, Portuguese or Greek! That’s when having a tablet or other electronic device capable of translating simple phrases or identifying instructions would be very handy.
The situation is radically different for more serious translation purposes. A Japanese manufacturer, for instance, that is selling their product around the world will need to be able to at least print an instruction and warranty booklet or make it available online or on a disk in a dozen different languages. Then, the quality of the translation service has to be of a much higher standard.
That general rule could be repeated a hundred times over whenever an organisation, government body or business has to communicate in another language, whether it is a marketing message, a legal document, medical instructions or an application for a permit.
It’s true that many small businesses, aware of the constant need to cut down on costs, my first try using an online translator when they first need to start translating any of their documents or a website. For sure, it’s certainly cheaper doing this than hiring a professionally qualified German translator, but the economy is a false one. The chance of the online translation being misunderstood or misleading is quite high and the more that it is used the more likely that it will actually jeopardise the actual aims of the business to reach out and communicate with an overseas market.
Not all translation is intended for a market in another country. Many countries these days are much more multicultural and multilingual than they ever used to be in the past. That means that information of many types has to be translated into all the main languages that exist because of immigration over the years. German translators, in the German-speaking countries themselves, are in hot demand now because of the wave of immigration from war-torn Syria and other countries in the Middle East.
Germany is one European nation whose economy is still a powerful entity and many companies from Australia to Canada, the US, Japan, China and elsewhere find they have a lot of business to do in that country. It’s not just English to German or German to English translators who are in demand but a huge number of other professional German translation service providers who are needed to keep these wheels of business rolling.