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How necessary is certification to get work? What about CAT's?
Thread poster: adpace

United States
Local time: 00:02
Spanish to English
+ ...
May 12, 2004

I'm curious to know what percentage of people who translate are actually certified. I don't have an education in translation and don't live near any unversities that offer it, but I do have an education in the source language and am a native speaker of the target language. I also live very far away from any major cities where translation testing is usually done. I am spending time with self-study courses, however. Is certification an essential to get regular work?

Also, I know TRADOS and other CATs are good for business and make translation more efficient, but as you know, they are very expensive. Is it important to have this software when starting out, or can than wait until you have done enough jobs to be able to pay for it? Does having TRADOS or another type of software typically bring in that much more work?

Finally, I know that my "resume" is in great need of a lot of work. If you have suggestions/critiques, I would be happy to hear your criticism and suggestions. (I will be adding a picture to it soon as I realize this is important). Thanks!


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Todd Field  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:02
Member (2003)
Portuguese to English
Both can be extremely valuable, but it is possible to translate professionally without either May 12, 2004

My personal opinion: certification can open doors for you, but is not an absolute prerequisite. Thankfully, Monica and I stay busy enough with repeat business in our areas of specialization with no certification. I do, however, have tremendous respect for certified translators and hope to become certified myself someday.

As far as CAT tools, I believe TRADOS is a good investment simply so that you can say "I have TRADOS". We only use TRADOS when we have to, but having it allows us to exchange TMs and such when agencies require it. From there, you can learn to use it or migrate to another CAT tool that better fits your style. For us, WordFast happened to be that choice.

Much like many other aspects of translation, I think you will find that no two individuals will answer these questions in exactly the same way. This is part of what makes our profession so interesting... everyone's got their own approach and style, and much like Kudoz, there is almost never a single definitive answer to a given issue.

Best of luck to you!


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Kim Metzger  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:02
German to English
How necessary is certification to get work? May 12, 2004

Dear adpace, I agree wholeheartedly with Todd and Monica about certification. I'm a low-tech translator, so I can't offer any advice on CAT programs. I work almost exclusively with MS Word and have been doing so for over four years. But I really like your attitude about translating and think that's your strongest selling point - you come across as someone who really wants to do everything necessary to be a good translator.
If you do decide to go for certification, it might interest you that you can set up an ATA exam right where you live if you can find someone who's already ATA-certified and is willing to act as a proctor. You would also need two more people to sign up for the exam.
Best wishes, Kim

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English to German
+ ...
Certificate in Translation May 12, 2004

Hello adpace, I'm pretty much in the same situation as you are. Since I feel that a certificate might help me to get established as a translator I've recently started a translation certificate course (distance learning). If you want to check it out, the schools web-address is:

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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:02
German to English
+ ...
What about CAT's? May 12, 2004


CAT tools are cheap. A tool like Trados or Deja Vu will cost in the order of 1,000 Euro. If you're not planning on turning that over in a week or so, you should revise your business strategy.

Even cheaper alternatives are available. Older versions (perhaps two or three years old) of Trados for example are often offered for sale here, and should still be perfectly adequate. There are well over fifteen different CAT products on the market, perhaps even over twenty, and some are much less expensive: Wordfast, for instance, costs only 180 Euro. OmegaT is yours for the price of a few minutes' online time.


[Edited at 2004-05-12 19:39]

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Lucinda  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:02
Member (2002)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Certification or CAT May 12, 2004

Dear Adpace,

Like Kim I am a low-tech translator who does not use CAT-tools. I know how to use Word really well. I think that you need to know that and know it well so that you do not lose time working. Some of the Office Suite programs like Excel and PowerPoint I can use to work in (if a translation comes to me in Excel or in PowerPoint, I can work in it to get it to the client the same way), but nothing fancy.

I have not used CAT tools before and I am afraid to get started on them. Well, all in all, I have more work than I can handle, so I do not complain.

My recommendation is to keep perfecting your art and reading up and researching in your specialty/specialties and the rest will come. It will not be tomorrow, but if you keep at it, it will come. You certainly have the right, positive, I-get-things-done attitude.

Good luck!

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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:02
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Most important: clients May 13, 2004

adpace wrote:
Is certification an essential to get regular work?

The most essential element in getting regular work, is getting clients. And clients you get because clients think they can trust you. Two of the most frequent indicators used by clients to determine whether they can trust you are (a) first impressions last, and (b) "a friend told me you were great".

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Oleg Rudavin  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:02
Member (2003)
English to Ukrainian
+ ...
Your reputation is your best certification May 13, 2004

Basically, few clients ask for credentials, diploma cum laude or whatever; your first job will show whether you'll stay or not - both with this client and in the business

As for CATs, no need for them at the starting stage. They are mostly helpful with larger jobs that go along the same line. Later - yes! As an example, one of the big projects I did contained some 20,000 words that had already been translated and kept in the translation memory. Imagine translating that amount in about 10 minutes!

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consuelo buitrago
Local time: 01:02
English to Spanish
+ ...
CATs are becoming a must... May 13, 2004

adpace wrote:

Also, I know TRADOS and other CATs are good for business and make translation more efficient, but as you know, they are very expensive.

Finally, I know that my "resume" is in great need of a lot of work. If you have suggestions/critiques, I would be happy to hear your criticism and suggestions. (I will be adding a picture to it soon as I realize this is important). Thanks!


I find that more and more clients are looking for translators that have a CAT program (Trados being the most popular, I think). The reason is simple: these tools can analyze the text and determine how many segments are repeated, or the percentage of similarity between segments. For example, a document with 5000 words might have 1000 segments that are a 100% match and another 1000 words that are a 95% match. This would naturally reflect on the cost of the translation, as the client would not expect to be charged for a segment that is repeated over and over again, as a new translation.

And then there is the consistency issue. Without a CAT, you might translate the same text differently as you encounter it in a long document. This might not be important if the translation is correct, but it does matter when you use a different word to translate a technical term. This would confuse the reader of the target language document, as he may assume that you are referring to two different items. Naturally, before there were CAT programs, you could create a glossary to ensure consistency, however, there is nothing better than having the translation memory that is created as you translate, to pop up and show you how you translated the same segment previously.

And naturally, when a new document needs to be translated that is similar to the previous translation, the cost is much lower… and the translation is highly consistent. I have translated dozens of printer manuals. Each new model varies little from the previous… so does the manual. The initial manual might have cost the client say, $1500, the ensuing ones as little as $500. And its fair, it only took me one third of the time to do it, thanks to the translation memory (TM) that is stored.

Finally, as someone mentioned in this forum, you could buy a used one. It might make the difference between getting the job or not.

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Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:32
English to Tamil
+ ...
Let me give you one more example May 15, 2004

As I have already mentioned elsewhere, I did not have even a computer during the first 26 years of my 28-year career. I used to translate by hand and deliver the handwritten script. And I was a very successful translator. No certification either and definitely no trados. I was not even aware of its existence. I am basically an electrical engineer with 23 years of engineering experience and with a flair for languages. Do I advocate the same route for others? No. But I am a living proof that it can be done and it was fun. In fact I turned it to my advantage. I would tell the client that I would do work at his premises on hourly rate and if he wants, he can depute a typist to type the translations as when the sheets are ready. At the end of the day I would proofread the printouts and the client will get the typed translations ready for use. A combination of a fast translator and a fast typist will work wonders. And the main attraction is, the client can rest assured that his valuable confidential documents do not end up in some external hard disks. Believe me, this was the clinching argument for engaghing me under the above conditions.

Now that I have become computer-savvy, I sing a different tune and tell the client that he can get a ready-to-use document via email at no extra effort on his part and the entire transaction is a paperless one.

Main thing is, one should be able to show one's current best face to the client and highlight the advantages of employing one.


[Edited at 2004-05-15 08:19]

[Edited at 2004-05-16 00:49]

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English to Japanese
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Recommend CATs! May 16, 2004

Hello everyone.
I'm a huge fan of Trados and I strongly recommend CATs to everyone, especially those who are new in translation business.

The reasons are simple:
1. You can build your own translation database by working on a project using a CAT. The more you use it, the bigger your database grows.
2.You can share translation memories with others and import them into your database, which is even a requirement in most software localization projects in order to keep the consistency of the language.
3. It will eventually save your translation time, and remember, the longer you use it, the more helpful it will become.

Why lose your precious work that might come in handy in future projects just to save $1000 or so? The longer you wait, the more translation memory will be lost from your brain. Let machines do what they are better at, and you just have to do what only humans can do with our flexible brain.


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