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Certification/Accreditation/education
Thread poster: Kyle Moore
Kyle Moore  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:21
Member (2014)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Aug 10, 2008

Hello:

I'm a blooming translator, and luckily, I have other sources of income, because, while I consider myself to be a completely competent translator with considerable experience, I feel that perhaps many translation agencies/potential clients overlook me because of my lack of superior education and/or certification.

I'm only 19, and I do plan to pursue further education sometime soon, and I would love to pursue certification as well. However, all this takes time.

In the opinion of the forum users, am I simply out of luck in the meantime?

The ATA requires at least 5 years of experience if no superior education.

Any input is appreciated.


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Páll Hermannsson  Identity Verified
Iceland
Local time: 12:21
Member (2008)
English to Icelandic
+ ...
Get an education Aug 10, 2008

I'm not surprised if you're often overlooked by potential clients, being only 19 years of age! First things first. Get a university degree, e.g. in translation. In some countries, a masters' degree (or a comparable degree) is prerequisite before you can take exams to become a certified translator. I don't know about ATA but I suggest you check out their requirements. Why aren't you in school, young man?

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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 14:21
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
At least you're not effing Aug 10, 2008

Orgullomoore wrote:
I'm a blooming translator...


At least you're not an effing translator

... I feel that perhaps many translation agencies/potential clients overlook me because of my lack of superior education and/or certification.


You're being paranoid. No agency I've dealt with has asked me for my age yet, and although a few of them did ask for my years of experience, it is also possible to get a foot in the door (with a small job, or larger ones sometimes) with nothing more than your professionalism and charm.

The ATA requires at least 5 years of experience if no superior education.


Do they give discounts for inferior education? But seriously, give yourself 5 years in the industry and you'll feel more confident getting that certification.


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:21
Flemish to English
+ ...
Supply and demand Aug 10, 2008

A blooming translator in a market niche where supply far supersedes demands and where rates of 0.05 $ p.w. are normal.
Perhaps it would be wise to add a rare language to your combination.
Pursue any specialised education and go and live in a country where the language is spoken after you graduate. Translation is not well regarded in the eyes of the general public and if you want to work for a company, what will you have to offer to a corporation?



[Edited at 2008-08-10 10:11]


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Kyle Moore  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:21
Member (2014)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Reply to comments thus far Aug 10, 2008

Páll Hermannsson wrote:

I'm not surprised if you're often overlooked by potential clients, being only 19 years of age! First things first. Get a university degree, e.g. in translation. In some countries, a masters' degree (or a comparable degree) is prerequisite before you can take exams to become a certified translator. I don't know about ATA but I suggest you check out their requirements. Why aren't you in school, young man?


Ermm...there's no simple answer. I suppose I originally I entered into the workforce out of necessity but over the last nine months, during which I have been working for an employer that offers to pay 100% of my education, it's been pure laziness. Of course, I definitely plan on getting enrolled this coming semester.

Samuel Murray wrote:

You're being paranoid. No agency I've dealt with has asked me for my age yet, and although a few of them did ask for my years of experience, it is also possible to get a foot in the door (with a small job, or larger ones sometimes) with nothing more than your professionalism and charm.


Thank you very much for your comments. I think you are right, I should expect that at the beginning business will naturally be slower. I do have at least one larger project under my belt that I did for Translated. net--hopefully more are on their way. Also, your website and profile were very encouraging to me. You're the second person I've seen that actually uses OmegaT, does not have Trados, and I don't see you flaunting any certificates or degrees either (no offense to those possesors who do flaunt).

Williamson wrote:

Perhaps it would be wise to add a rare language to your combination


It's a good suggestion, I just don't know how realistic it is.

[Edited at 2008-08-10 10:36]


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:21
English to German
+ ...
Education is crucial Aug 10, 2008

Professional translators usually have several university degrees.

Even if you don't have a translators' certification, agencies might hire you because of your expertise in a particular field (legal, accounting, medical, engineering, IT, history, and what not).

Speaking two languages doesn't make you a translator automatically. Having two hands doesn't make you a pianist. Having two legs doesn't make you a dancer.

You must at least display expertise in a particular field.

Please, do not advertise 5 years of professional translation experience on your profile page at the age of 19. I don't think that I have to explain the reason why.


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Kyle Moore  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:21
Member (2014)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
years of experience Aug 10, 2008

Nicole Schnell wrote:

Please, do not advertise 5 years of professional translation experience on your profile page at the age of 19. I don't think that I have to explain the reason why.


I changed it to 3. Five was an overestimate, thanks for catching it.


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xxxMilena Bosco  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 14:21
English to Italian
+ ...
Do not show your age! Education yes to provide a better service and not to get a "certification". Aug 10, 2008

Hi;
I am surprised that being in the US you are showing your age. I am surprised that any agency would ask your age and discriminate. I know for sure that no one is entitled to ask your age in the US.

You do not need an University degree to be a good translator. Univesity degrees (I have one so I speak from experience) mean nothing if you are not pursuing information and learning with eagerness and curiosity. I've met plenty of people with degrees that were very mediocre people professionally, and I have met quite a few who were witty and succesful and only had a high school degree.
You can translate but the first step for a good translator, (after being proficient with the language of course), is to study the subject you are translating. In my experience I came across a bunch of math translations (made by people who had a master's degree) that were horrendous, because those professionals were not math proficient.

I think that the rate is a very personal matter. When "professional" translators (many of them!) get too many jobs, charging .10 euros per word, they have no problem in hiring someone else who can do their job for .05 euros making a net profit of .05 euros for a job they are not working on. Therefore translators who need more jobs are entitled to charge as much as they think is fair in my mind. At least they are indipendent.

As you must have noticed this is an environment in which people easily judge you for how you "sound". I think it is fair to judge basing the opinion on the work you can provide. This is not the right place to start telling someone else if he/she is a translator or not or if what it is stated in his/her CV makes sense.

Can you do a good job? This is what you have to focus on. Can you do a better job? (Always!). Focus on that. If you think that a specific degree or certification can help you provide a better service then go on. Do not start an educational path if you are merely looking for a certification, it won't work!

Have a great one!


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 14:21
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Oversimplification Aug 10, 2008

Nicole Schnell wrote:
Speaking two languages doesn't make you a translator automatically. Having two hands doesn't make you a pianist. Having two legs doesn't make you a dancer.


This is a gross oversimplification of the issue. Two hands is (are?) normal. Two feet is normal. Two languages isn't. I wouldn't be surprised if 99% of all people have two feet and two hands, but what percentage of people can speak two languages with a reasonable degree of fluency?


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:21
English to German
+ ...
Reply to Samuel: Are you sure? Aug 10, 2008

There is more to translation than being fluent in various languages. Speaking two languages doesn't make you a linguist.

How to write a patent, a technical manual, a press release or how to translate poetry - not quite the stuff that you learn at home or from your friends.

Since there is obviously no other educational background, I highly recommend that the asker makes some effort to get at least some formal education in translation.

Why?

We see too many young and frustrated "translators" in our forums, going "Whaaah! They didn't like my work! They don't pay!!! Heeelllp!!!"

The last thing I want to do is giving a young person a bad advice.


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Kim Metzger  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 07:21
German to English
The world is full of bilinguals who think they're translators Aug 10, 2008

Samuel Murray wrote:

Two languages isn't. I wouldn't be surprised if 99% of all people have two feet and two hands, but what percentage of people can speak two languages with a reasonable degree of fluency?



From "Getting it Right" - an ATA client education booklet available in print and online.

Translators and bilinguals – look closer

Professional translators are first and foremost writers, capable of producing texts that read well in the target language. They are generally fluent in their source language(s) as well. Most important of all, they are effective bridges between the languages they work in; they can render the message of the original text, with appropriate style and terminology, in their native language.
Bilingualism is something else. Bilinguals speak two languages fluently, but are not necessarily good at moving information between the two, especially in writing. And experience shows that many people described as bilingual over-estimate their communication skills altogether.

In 2000, Lina's, a pricey French sandwich chain, advertised for franchisees abroad with a text concocted by a self-proclaimed bilingual employee. Slogan: "Tomorrow, we expect on your dynamism." Response: zero.

Bilingualism on its own is not a guarantee of written fluency or skill in translation.

Chris Durban, author of the Onion Skin
http://www.atanet.org/docs/Getting_it_right.pdf
http://accurapid.com/journal/03onion.htm

http://www.atanet.org/publications/getting_it_right.php


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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 13:21
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
Superior education? Aug 10, 2008

Orgullomoore wrote:
The ATA requires at least 5 years of experience if no superior education.



I assume you mean higher education, most of which I would hardly call superior

If you don't acquire education and/or job experience that makes you stand apart from the pack, you'll have a rough time with your language combination. The impression I have from other Spanish-English translators is that the market is flooded and the competition is cut-throat among the unspecialized translators, so you might want to consider which niches may match your skills and interests and work in that direction.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 14:21
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
True... Aug 10, 2008

Nicole Schnell wrote:
There is more to translation than being fluent in various languages. Speaking two languages doesn't make you a linguist.


I agree completely, and I never said that (nor intended to imply it). But your original statement sounded awfully like that cringe-inducing religious argument "Growing up in a garage doesn't make you a car, so growing up in a church doesn't make you a christian". It sounds cute but that's about the only value of it.


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:21
English to German
+ ...
Thanks, Samuel Aug 10, 2008

I didn't make any of those previous statements up. They were stated in these Proz.com-forums during the last years by highly experienced colleagues who have been in this business many years longer than I ever will.

I picked them up anyway. Every time I read a forum post (daily?), about messed-up work, disappointed clients, posted by some disgruntled language wiz, I remember them.



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munomoni  Identity Verified
Saudi Arabia
Local time: 15:21
Arabic to English
+ ...
Thanks Aug 10, 2008

Very interesting discussion, thanks man.

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