Is certification necessary?
Thread poster: Amy Duncan
Amy Duncan  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 23:03
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Mar 4, 2008

I've been noticing that quite a few job offers on ProZ require certification. I'd like some colleague opinions about how necessary you think it is to be certified. I'm not really in a position to do anything about it at the moment, and to be honest, after more than a decade translating, I don't think I need it, and I tend to think it smacks somewhat of just another way to get translators to part with their money. Any ideas?

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Alyona Douglas  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:03
Member (2007)
English to Russian
Some clients require certification Mar 4, 2008

Amy, some clients need their documents certified - e.g. law firms that prepare documents for a legal case. At our translation agency we certify almost all documents translated for law firms. Also, we certify birth certificates, death certificates, etc.

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Amy Duncan  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 23:03
Portuguese to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
True.. Mar 4, 2008

Hi Alla, yes I'm aware of those kinds of documents, but what I'm referring to are translation jobs that don't really require certification but where the agency/client demands it anyway. I guess my question is: is this a trend? Will we eventually all have to join some organization like ATA and get certified in order to work?

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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 04:03
Spanish to English
+ ...
EN15038 Mar 4, 2008

That's the new EU translation standard, it requires translators and revisers to be certified, and that's the way things are heading.

Today, for example, I got an email from an agency asking me to submit documentation so they could get certified under this standard.

It's the first time it's happened to me, but it's likely to happen again.

You do not need to go to university, but you should look out for some way to validate your experience.

For example, the EN15038 standard says that translator competences should be acquired through one or more of the following:

a) formal higher education in translation
b) equivalent qualification in any subject + >2 years of documented translation experience
c) >5 years of documented professional translation experience.


[Edited at 2008-03-04 23:12]


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Steven Capsuto  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:03
Spanish to English
+ ...
Two meanings of certification Mar 4, 2008

Yes, I get that you're asking about certified translators as opposed to certified translations (which are completely unrelated topics, at least in the United States).

I think translator certification is mostly of use when you're applying to do projects for a client who knows nothing about you. Once you're in the door, of course, the quality of your work is what will keep the jobs coming.

I'm ATA certified in three of my five language pairs. Certification has certainly opened a few doors and got some agencies to take a chance on me (and accept my rates).

That said, however, I also get a fair amount of work in the two pairs I'm not certified in (French-English and Catalan-English). In the case of Catalan, certification hardly matters since there's a dearth of good translators in that pair. For French-English, a lot of the work I do is for clients who originally hired me for one of my certified pairs, and then later started sending the French work.


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Alyona Douglas  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:03
Member (2007)
English to Russian
- Mar 5, 2008

I must admit I have misinterpreted your question. Sorry for that.

Talking about certified translators - I don't believe in the ATA certification because I question their evaluation methods. And I am completely disgusted by the fact that you have to pay to see the results of this evaluation. In my opinion - it is just a new trend imposed by ATA and translator's websites who, I am sure, get money for advertising this. It's just another clever way of making money!

My Master's degree in Linguistics and Translation speaks for my education in this area, and I let my clients see my credentials and work.


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Steven Capsuto  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:03
Spanish to English
+ ...
Not so new Mar 5, 2008

Alla Douglas wrote:
In my opinion - it is just a new trend imposed by ATA and translator's websites who, I am sure, get money for advertising this. It's just another clever way of making money!


When I studied translation in college twenty years ago, a lot of my classmates were prepping to take ATA certification exams. I didn't take them at the time because it was just too darned expensive.

In any case, the exams have been around for a long time and serve a useful purpose (though perhaps they were more useful in the past, when there were few or no graduate programs in translation in the U.S.).


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 04:03
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
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Yes but Mar 5, 2008

Steven Capsuto wrote:
When I studied translation in college twenty years ago, a lot of my classmates were prepping to take ATA certification exams.


Yes but in those days it wasn't called "certification", was it? I understand that ATA only recently changed their accreditation process to a "certification" process.


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Steven Capsuto  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:03
Spanish to English
+ ...
Semantics Mar 5, 2008

Samuel Murray wrote:
Yes but in those days it wasn't called "certification", was it? I understand that ATA only recently changed their accreditation process to a "certification" process.


They just changed its name to match the wording used by other American professional associations. If memory serves, the only recent changes in the program did not coincide with the name change, and don't represent a conceptual shift that one would associate more with "certification" than "accreditation."

1) In 2003, a year or two before the name change, they instituted prerequisites to take the tests. Previously the exams were reputed to have something like an 80% fail rate. Requiring people to have either relevant education or professional experience presumably reduced the number of candidates who spent hundreds of dollars with no benefit. This surely reduced ATA's revenue from the exams but it was arguably the right thing to do.

2) A few years later, they added a continuing education requirement. This, too, was a matter of consistency with what other professional organizations require for their accreditations/certifications. ATA has approved CE credit for 100% of the non-ATA educational programs and foreign conferences I have submitted, so it doesn't seem to be about selling their own programs.

3) Previously, if you wanted to challenge the results of your exam, ATA kept the challenge fee even if they overturned the original "fail" grade. Now they refund the challenge fee if the result is overturned.

[Edited at 2008-03-05 15:26]


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Amy Duncan  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 23:03
Portuguese to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
At the risk of revealing my profound ignorance.... Mar 5, 2008

Is ATA the only organization that offers certification for translators? I'm curious just in case this becomes something I will be forced to do against my will.


Amy


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Steven Capsuto  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:03
Spanish to English
+ ...
Governmental certifications Mar 5, 2008

I haven't looked into this but I believe there are special certifications that allow you to translate documents for use in court (distinct from interpreter certifications).

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