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Proof of academic credentials
Thread poster: Michael Newton

Michael Newton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:29
Member (2003)
Japanese to English
+ ...
Aug 16, 2014

I have been asked by several translation agencies to provide proof of academic credentials: scannable diploma and the like as a condition of working with them. Wouldn't it be easier to refer them to the credentials department of the university I graduated from? It seems that the agency could remove my name from the diploma, put some one else's name them and then sell it. Am I being too suspicious? Would appreciate feedback from other translators.
Thank you!
Michael Newton
Boston USA


 

finnword1
United States
Local time: 21:29
English to Finnish
+ ...
How about sending a photo instead? Aug 17, 2014

Put the document under a glass and take a photo with enough glare to make it more difficult to photoshop.

 

Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:29
German to English
Send them a copy Aug 17, 2014

It's very easy to fabricate a diploma even without an original. The registrars at universities are in no hurry to verify someone's credentials. Some in the US even charge a fee. It's really easier to create a pdf containing scans of your diplomas and send them to requesting parties.

 

Clarisa Moraña  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 22:29
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
+ ...
What about if you were, let's say, engineer? Aug 17, 2014

Hi, Michael

I don't see nothing strange in the Agencies' request. If you were an engineer, would you hesitate to provide a proof of academic credentials? I consider that is quite normal to request/provide proof of your credentials... You claim to be a translator, and you say you have academic credentials, which means that you devoted lot of your time and efforts to get them... If I were you, I wouldn't hesitate to show them my credentials (BTW, I don't have a translator's degree, I wish I had).

Why would a translation agency request your credentials? Because it wants to be sure that you are really the professional person you claim to be, just because of that. There are many translators' degrees uploaded at Internet. I don't think any translation agency would need yours to change the name and sell it, just check the following link: https://www.google.com.ar/search?q=translation%20diploma&hl=es&rlz=1T4ADRA_esAR418AR418&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=7U7wU5qsJcTksATG34KoCQ&ved=0CAgQ_AUoAQ&biw=1126&bih=445

Regards

Clarisa

[Edited at 2014-08-17 06:46 GMT]


 

DLyons  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 02:29
Spanish to English
+ ...
I wouldn't worry about it. Aug 17, 2014

Michael Newton wrote:

I have been asked by several translation agencies to provide proof of academic credentials: scannable diploma and the like as a condition of working with them. Wouldn't it be easier to refer them to the credentials department of the university I graduated from? It seems that the agency could remove my name from the diploma, put some one else's name them and then sell it. Am I being too suspicious? Would appreciate feedback from other translators.
Thank you!
Michael Newton
Boston USA


If it really bothers you, superimpose a piece of text like "copyright" over it. Scammers take the path of least resistance and will copy someone else's.


 

564354352  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 03:29
Danish to English
+ ...
I would object Aug 17, 2014

I consider myself a business entity offering my services to potential clients, not someone looking for employment with an agency. I disagree with Clarisa that if you were an engineer you would accept that potential clients would ask to see your academic credentials, and I don't see any reason why any potential translation client should need to see our credentials either.

Presenting CVs, references and credentials is for people who are applying for employment, which I presume you are not. You are considering entering into a professional, mutual working relationship with an agency, and that is a different matter altogether. Ask yourself whether you are going to request the agency's credentials as a client who you would feel comfortable working with... And whether they would be willing to submit any such credentials (if indeed they have any) to you...

Personally, I tend to ignore any such requests from agencies, except in the odd case where I consider an agency particularly interesting. In such rare cases, and if an agency has contacted me via ProZ.com, I simply tell them that my credentials have been verified by ProZ.com and that I am a member of the CIOL, which is very easy to check online. Any professional agency should know that this means my credentials are valid.


 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 02:29
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
I would object too Aug 17, 2014

Gitte Hovedskov, MCIL wrote:

I consider myself a business entity offering my services to potential clients, not someone looking for employment with an agency. I disagree with Clarisa that if you were an engineer you would accept that potential clients would ask to see your academic credentials, and I don't see any reason why any potential translation client should need to see our credentials either.

Presenting CVs, references and credentials is for people who are applying for employment, which I presume you are not. You are considering entering into a professional, mutual working relationship with an agency, and that is a different matter altogether. Ask yourself whether you are going to request the agency's credentials as a client who you would feel comfortable working with... And whether they would be willing to submit any such credentials (if indeed they have any) to you...

Personally, I tend to ignore any such requests from agencies, except in the odd case where I consider an agency particularly interesting. In such rare cases, and if an agency has contacted me via ProZ.com, I simply tell them that my credentials have been verified by ProZ.com and that I am a member of the CIOL, which is very easy to check online. Any professional agency should know that this means my credentials are valid.


When was the last time you asked to see your accountant’s diplomas or licenses, or your plumber’s license, or checked your doctor’s med school diploma, or asked for evidence that your lawyer passed the bar exam? No one does this.....


 

Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 09:29
Chinese to English
?!?! Aug 17, 2014

Teresa Borges wrote:

When was the last time you asked to see your accountant’s diplomas or licenses, or your plumber’s license, or checked your doctor’s med school diploma, or asked for evidence that your lawyer passed the bar exam? No one does this.....

This is completely wrong. Licenses and credentials exist for a reason. In many places, for many professions, there are rules requiring that credentials be displayed - sometimes lawyers have them up on their walls, for example. The only reason I don't ask for my doctor's credentials is that he is employed by someone, and I trust them to have checked.

Particularly in the case of B2B business, paperwork is highly important. Ask your lawyer: if you as a business were going to enter into a business arrangement with another company, and that company claimed to have relevant credentials, should you not ask to see them?! It's the most basic of due diligence...

As to the idea that no-one should ask for degrees because you're not applying for a job, that would be fine, if other certification existed. Doctors don't have to show their medical degrees because they have medical licences: the licence proves the degree. No such system exists for translator (ATA membership, maybe?), so degrees it is.

To the OP: I think your fears are overblown, and I don't really understand the thinking. You claim to have a degree, therefore you must be able to prove it. The standard way of proving such a thing from time immemorial has been to show the certificate. The fact that Photoshop exists doesn't change that.


 

Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 09:29
Member
Chinese to English
+ ...
Are you serious? Aug 17, 2014

Teresa Borges wrote:

When was the last time you asked to see your accountant’s diplomas or licenses, or your plumber’s license, or checked your doctor’s med school diploma, or asked for evidence that your lawyer passed the bar exam? No one does this.....

Are you serious? When was the last time you went to a doctor who did not publicly display their diploma in their clinic? Doctors, accountants and lawyers in private practice typically have a physical clinic or firm that they do business through where they display their diplomas and certificates for public viewing. I don't hear about lawyers, accountants and doctors having overseas clients through the internet very often, and the law firms who work internationally most certainly have to have proof of certification on their website. Most of their clients walk into the clinic/firm and they will see their diplomas/licences/certificates.

If you want to be held to the same standard, you can start by holding yourself to said standard, establishing a formal business office, hang your certificates on the wall. Work only with local clients who walk into your office, or maybe take a photo of said wall for remote clients.

Ask yourself whether you are going to request the agency's credentials as a client who you would feel comfortable working with...

Of course I do - I am shocked that this question even needs to be asked. The difference is that I require from the agency proof that they are willing and able to pay, so I look for either Blue Board records, or in the absence of that evidence of proper certification/business presence.

On the other hand, the agency requires of you proof of competence. They might look for your WWA record or some evidence of certification already present in your profile. In the absence of that, why should they not ask for your diploma or certificate, especially since the opening poster has neither WWA nor any proof of certification on his profile?

[Edited at 2014-08-17 13:31 GMT]


 

Clarisa Moraña  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 22:29
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
+ ...
I do Aug 17, 2014

Teresa Borges wrote:



When was the last time you asked to see your accountant’s diplomas or licenses, or your plumber’s license, or checked your doctor’s med school diploma, or asked for evidence that your lawyer passed the bar exam? No one does this.....


I always look at the wall where the diploma is hanged, to know the promotion year and the school where they attended. In my country, a physician will always have the diploma exhibited. Also, some home repairs need a certified plumber, or electricist... they can only sign out any repair if their credentials have been checked by an official organism.

Regards

Clarisa


 

564354352  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 03:29
Danish to English
+ ...
A degree is not proof of competence Aug 17, 2014

Lincoln Hui wrote:

Ask yourself whether you are going to request the agency's credentials as a client who you would feel comfortable working with...

Of course I do - I am shocked that this question even needs to be asked. The difference is that I require from the agency proof that they are willing and able to pay, so I look for either Blue Board records, or in the absence of that evidence of proper certification/business presence.





One of my former tasks as an in-house technical translator was to test the language proficiency of job applicants. I was shocked to see how many of them, even those with very good credentials (BA and/or MA in translation) failed the tests miserably, sometimes even on very basic grammar issues. They had no experience and would not have been able to undertake a job as a translator straight from college. So, credentials really only show that you went to college (or whatever they show). They are not proof that you are a competent translator...

In my view, my credentials (exam certificates) are personal documents, and I don't give those out to just about any agency that wants to add me to their files.

In Denmark, we DO actually have an official authorisation of translators and interpreters, and this comes with a protected title. You would have to be a complete fool to claim to be state-authorised if you were not, as it only takes a few clicks on the Internet to check such a claim...

I am wondering whether there may be some cultural differences here? I can't for the life of me remember ever seeing a certificate on any Danish doctor's wall (they may be there, but I would never think of checking for them). I may be naïve, but I think that anybody who sets up practice as a doctor in Denmark would have to be qualified to do so, so what would I gain from seeing their credentials? I will only find out whether he/she is a good doctor by dealing with him/her. Ideally, I would choose my doctor by some trusted friend's recommendation, not by any credentials.

Similarly, if I am looking for a certified electrician, I find one in the local newspaper who states that he is a certified electrician, and I take his word for it. It wouldn't cross my mind to ask for proof...
But maybe that is just Denmark... You will get found out here if you try to con the world at large...





[Edited at 2014-08-17 16:35 GMT]


 

Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 09:29
Member
Chinese to English
+ ...
Probably they were there and you simply did not see them Aug 17, 2014

Gitte Hovedskov, MCIL wrote:

Lincoln Hui wrote:

Ask yourself whether you are going to request the agency's credentials as a client who you would feel comfortable working with...

Of course I do - I am shocked that this question even needs to be asked. The difference is that I require from the agency proof that they are willing and able to pay, so I look for either Blue Board records, or in the absence of that evidence of proper certification/business presence.





One of my former tasks as an in-house technical translator was to test the language proficiency of job applicants. I was shocked to see how many of them, even those with very good credentials (BA and/or MA in translation) failed the tests miserably, sometimes even on very basic grammar issues. They had no experience and would not have been able to undertake a job as a translator straight from college. So, credentials really only show that you went to college (or whatever they show). They are not proof that you are a competent translator...

In my view, my credentials (exam certificates) are personal documents, and I don't give those out to just about any agency that wants to add me to their files.

In Denmark, we DO actually have an official authorisation of translators and interpreters, and this comes with a protected title. You would have to be a complete fool to claim to be state-authorised if you were not, as it only takes a few clicks on the Internet to check such a claim...

I am wondering whether there may be some cultural differences here? I can't for the life of me remember ever seeing a certificate on any Danish doctor's wall (they may be there, but I would never think of checking for them). I may be naïve, but I think that anybody who sets up practice as a doctor in Denmark would have to be qualified to do so, so what would I gain from seeing their credentials? I will only find out whether he/she is a good doctor by dealing with him/her. Ideally, I would choose my doctor by some trusted friend's recommendation, not by any credentials.

Similarly, if I am looking for a certified electrician, I find one in the local newspaper who states that he is a certified electrician, and I take his word for it. It wouldn't cross my mind to ask for proof...
But maybe that is just Denmark... You will get found out here if you try to con the world at large...





[Edited at 2014-08-17 16:35 GMT]

Of course it isn't, but it's one way, and one way or the other the agency has to find out whether the translator is competent before handing over a job. And there are some here who are extremely hostile to taking test translations, so pick your poison - credentials or tests?

As for the doctor thing, certainly your experience is not true of the US, where it is common practice for virtually all professionals to hang their certificates and diplomas on their office wall - professors, CEOs, lawyers, doctors, etc. In Hong Kong you don't even have to walk into a clinic to see the diplomas - they are often displayed in glass windows facing the street. And I know for a fact that I am required by law to display my Hong Kong business registration certificate at my place of business, which in this case is my home.

In any case, agencies work globally, and they have to apply a global standard with regards to self-protection. They do not have the luxury of "You will get found out here if you try to con the world at large". The same applies for translators, who have to take extra care when dealing with agencies over the internet, unless one plans to work only with local clients and trusted references.

[Edited at 2014-08-17 19:18 GMT]


 

Elizabeth Tamblin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:29
Member (2012)
French to English
Would this work? Aug 17, 2014

Get your credentials verified by ProZ, then refer clients to your ProZ profile.

 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 02:29
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
My point is that a degree and a diploma Aug 17, 2014

are proof that a person has received formal education in a field but are not proof of competence. Lawyers, medical doctors, engineers, good or bad, have degrees and diplomas...

 

Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 03:29
Italian to English
Sometimes credential checking comes after the job Aug 17, 2014

Lincoln Hui wrote:

Of course it isn't, but it's one way, and one way or the other the agency has to find out whether the translator is competent before handing over a job. And there are some here who are extremely hostile to taking test translations, so pick your poison - credentials or tests?



It doesn't always happen that way, Lincoln.

A couple of months ago I was asked to do a job for an overseas agency. This in itself was unusual as I don't normally work through agencies. Nevertheless, the job was interesting and there was no problem about the rate so I completed the assignment to the agency's satisfaction.

Then they came back to me with a request for my degree credentials, which were apparently essential if I was going to work with them again. Since all the people I dealt with at the agency were very pleasant, why not? Ten or fifteen years ago, I got my degrees endorsed by the local authority in Italy where I live for reasons I can no longer remember so I sent off the old PDFs and the agency was quite happy.

I'm looking forward to the next job.


 
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