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Certified or not? Advice for newcomers please!
Thread poster: Stéphanie Denton
Stéphanie Denton  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:24
French to English
+ ...
Mar 15, 2011

Dear all

I hope that this post finds you well, and busy.

I have been freelance translating since 2005. I started translating in 2002, but have been taking it seriously since 2005. I've got a BA (Hons) in French, and am currently in the process of completing a MA in Translation.

I'm setting my "business" up as we speak, and my main issue is to do with being certified or not. What exactly does it mean? Does it mean you get more work or not? How does one become officially certified?

I am about to apply for membership with ITI and IOL, what are the pros and cons (if any!)?

I find that, as a young translator, jobs aren't necessarily easy to come by. Once you get a job, and produce a quality translation, the client will tend to use you again. But even so, getting jobs isn't easy. I have what I would like to think of as a relatively "experienced" CV, I have worked for large companies such as Aubade Paris, Tomy, Nintendo, Orange...etc. but even so, jobs are hard to come by. I feel that I must be doing something wrong when quoting on the job boards. Any tips?

I have my website up and running, and am in the process of promoting that, I had my first job from it through the other day, which is fantastic, but I'd like more than just one job. Please.

Thank you for reading my ramblings.

Take care

Stéph


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Paul Merriam  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:24
Member (2008)
Russian to English
+ ...
Cost analysis Mar 15, 2011

I'm in the US and the situation may be different in the UK. In the US, it's not unusual to have one job bring in more than an entire year's dues for ATA (the US counterpart to ITI). Given that people look at the ATA website to find translators, I think it makes sense to join the ATA here.

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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:24
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Take the exams Mar 15, 2011

s_d87 wrote:
I am about to apply for membership with ITI and IOL, what are the pros and cons (if any!)?

I think that passing IOL's DipTrans exam would give your career a definite push. ITI's membership examination would have the same effect. I encourage you not just to join the IOL and ITI, but do their exams and be qualified by them. If you pass these exams, you have better chances of taking off in little time.

Competition is fierce, and translation budgets are low these days, so customers choose their translators carefully and prefer to pay a bit more and use more experienced translators. Someone has to do the work though, more experienced translators are often overloaded, and you are bound to gain experience and join the busy bunch.

Good luck!


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Russell Jones  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:24
Italian to English
Distinguish yourself Mar 15, 2011

Translators who succeed in attracting clients have one thing in common - something that makes them stand out from the competition, whether that is qualifications, experience, unusual language combinations, specialist subjects or (as in my case) previous careers.

If you are in a position to obtain IOL or ITI certification, I would do it, as you are probably not old enough to benefit from the other options I mentioned. I only skimmed your profile but your impressive client list didn't stand out; you could make more of it.

What did stand out was the "SLD Languages" header, "We" speak your Language.
That sends out a very confusing message: Are you an agency? How many languages do you speak?

Most translators who credit this site with helping their careers have been contacted directly by agencies or clued-up direct clients searching the directory. Unless they are looking in the agencies directory (where they won't find you), they are looking specifically for a freelancer, preferably with a real name and a photo.

You don't need to sound like a business to be businesslike! It never pays to pretend you are something you are not; it catches up with you eventually.

Good luck.


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Stéphanie Denton  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:24
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
DipTrans Mar 15, 2011

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

I think that passing IOL's DipTrans exam would give your career a definite push. ITI's membership examination would have the same effect. I encourage you not just to join the IOL and ITI, but do their exams and be qualified by them. If you pass these exams, you have better chances of taking off in little time.



The MA that I am doing is via distance learning and is therefore over three years. At the end of next year, if I get the credits, I will have a DipTrans, would you still recommend getting the IOL's DipTrans? I will be joining as a student, given that I am still studying, can I still pass the exams? Is this costly? Sorry for all the questions!

Thanks for the advice!


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Neil Coffey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:24
French to English
+ ...
It's largely about if you can convince clients... Mar 15, 2011

Formally, there seem to be few types of job that actually *require* ITI or IoL accreditation (after all, these are essentially private associations: they have no legal status as such). In practice, translation by an ITI or IoL accredited translator seems to be a de facto expectation for immigration-related and possibly some other administrative documents (so birth certificates, degree certificates etc).

Other than those few cases, many clients won't know or care about the ITI or IoL. Even some fairly "official" uses of translations don't *require* the translator to be accredited as such: they may just require the translator to be able to make a statement on oath that they are fit to do the job.

So I would say it comes down to whether (a) you're dying to translate birth certificates, (b) you can already attract clients and put a case to them for being the "right person for the job", (c) whether you assess that you will get work via the institution.

Re the latter point, from those who are members of one of these associations, I'd be curious to find out how many projects they've actually got from the respective web sites/directories. I'm slightly suspicious about how much work it would actually bring, given that in a typical language pair/field there could well be hundreds of other translators listed.


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Stéphanie Denton  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:24
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
SLD Languages Mar 15, 2011



What did stand out was the "SLD Languages" header, "We" speak your Language.
That sends out a very confusing message: Are you an agency? How many languages do you speak?

Most translators who credit this site with helping their careers have been contacted directly by agencies or clued-up direct clients searching the directory. Unless they are looking in the agencies directory (where they won't find you), they are looking specifically for a freelancer, preferably with a real name and a photo.

You don't need to sound like a business to be businesslike! It never pays to pretend you are something you are not; it catches up with you eventually.


No, I'm not an agency, but if you get the chance to look at my website, I am working with two translator friends, and have a network of freelance, student translators at my fingertips. We also offer tuition. Hope this clarifies.


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Stéphanie Denton  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:24
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Age and client list Mar 15, 2011

I only skimmed your profile but your impressive client list didn't stand out; you could make more of it.


As I said, I am proud of my client list. I'm lucky to have certain contacts within the lingerie industry (I co-own a lingerie boutique with my parents) and I have a lot of "handy" friends who have brought work to me.

How would you recommend making most of my 'impressive' client list? Would it be wise to bring it forward on my ProZ profile? I've just done a translation for IARN - a renowned Jewish Institute in Paris, so that is also to be added to my list.

I sometimes feel that age is an issue, and that clients will choose an "older" translator, assuming that they have more experience, which is not always the case - no disrespect intended. I'm not quite as young as I look, I'm 23, however, I don't think any photo I put up will help as I look very young. I have been known to be ID'd for a lottery ticket!


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Russell Jones  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:24
Italian to English
Client view Mar 15, 2011

No, I'm not an agency, but if you get the chance to look at my website, I am working with two translator friends, and have a network of freelance, student translators at my fingertips. We also offer tuition. Hope this clarifies.


These were not "my" questions. I'm suggesting what potential clients' doubts might be, looking at your profile.


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Stéphanie Denton  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:24
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Agency Mar 15, 2011

Russell Jones wrote:

No, I'm not an agency, but if you get the chance to look at my website, I am working with two translator friends, and have a network of freelance, student translators at my fingertips. We also offer tuition. Hope this clarifies.


These were not "my" questions. I'm suggesting what potential clients' doubts might be, looking at your profile.


I understood that, I was merely clarifying.


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:24
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Yes, IOL's DipTrans would be good for you Mar 15, 2011

Stéphanie Denton wrote:
The MA that I am doing is via distance learning and is therefore over three years. At the end of next year, if I get the credits, I will have a DipTrans, would you still recommend getting the IOL's DipTrans? I will be joining as a student, given that I am still studying, can I still pass the exams? Is this costly? Sorry for all the questions!

Yes, your MA could give you a "diploma in translation", but the one I refer to is IOL's Diploma in Translation, which is granted if you pass a rather exacting 3-text exam. The fact that it is tricky to pass (at least in the first go) means that it will give you a competitive edge.


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Francesca70
Local time: 02:24
English to Italian
+ ...
Iol dip Trans Mar 16, 2011

Hi everybody,

I am in a even worse situation.
Having passed the Diploma in Translation exam and having finally got the qualification - which is not that easy: I was the only one in my group - I found that IN ALL THE JOBS posted they want somebody with experience. And a long one! I do not have much experience - few unrelated jobs - and here I am with my shiny certificate and no job!
I know I should improve my web profile and update it, but still, the main problem seems to be the lack of experience so I wonder how you get your first jobs....

Thank


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camies  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:24
French to English
Double bind of qualification and experience Mar 22, 2011

Francesca70 wrote:

Hi everybody,

I am in a even worse situation.
Having passed the Diploma in Translation exam and having finally got the qualification - which is not that easy: I was the only one in my group - I found that IN ALL THE JOBS posted they want somebody with experience. And a long one! I do not have much experience - few unrelated jobs - and here I am with my shiny certificate and no job!
I know I should improve my web profile and update it, but still, the main problem seems to be the lack of experience so I wonder how you get your first jobs....

Thank


I'm wondering the same thing. I'm studying for the DipTrans at the moment but there is clearly a double-bind: can't get the work without the qualification, and when/if I pass the qualification how to get the work without experience? Do voluntary organisations require translators and might overlook the lack of experience / qualification thing?


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:24
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Some ideas for Chris and Francesca Mar 22, 2011

camies wrote:
when/if I pass the qualification how to get the work without experience? Do voluntary organisations require translators and might overlook the lack of experience / qualification thing?


To the best of my knowledge, voluntary organisations look for quality - that's all. The two I work for both have their own testing procedure.

Frankly, I don't think it's impossible to get paid work even if you lack experience and certification. It's just more difficult and calls for following up every lead possible and spending a lot of time marketing and just a little time doing paid translations. It's only if you sit back and wait for the jobs to come to you, or you rely on one or two agencies plus jobs posted on sites like ProZ, that you won't find anything.

The thing is, what can you offer apart from those things? For a young person, that can be a difficult question to answer - enthusiasm might be the only possibility. But you, Chris have an incredible amount of very important experience in the field of literature. I don't know about your abilities in your source languages or your ability to produce accurate translations, but you can clearly write well in English. BTW, thanks for the link to the website - I'm a great SF fan!

I see that neither you nor Francesca have anything much available on ProZ in terms of text, CV, samples. If that's because you aren't using ProZ as a launching pad for your careers then that's fine. However, if you're giving potential clients a link to your profile and/or you apply for jobs here, then you are missing an opportunity.


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JTurner
Local time: 03:24
English to German
+ ...
Also a newcomer Mar 23, 2011

Hi,

I have even less to show. "Only" a BA in languages, culture and translation, I'm currently working on my MA (another year to go) and have only had one job so far (at least I was assured to work on that project again every year). But that's a three weeks job, so what am I going to do the rest of the year?

I am also doing some translations for a voluntary organisation (cafebabel.com), but that didn't seem to help me at all.

Although my marks are quite good, I didn't even succeed in finding an internship at an office for a couple of months to gain some experience there.... I'm soon starting to lose my motivation.

I also followed a couple of suggestions I found in another thread. For example there was the advice to apply for jobs with a young target group, i.e. video games etc.
In my opinion I'm really fit in that vocabulary and games speech and thus I pointed this out in my applications. But unfortunately most companies / job posters didn't even answer... The others just told me they chose another translator. Really frustrating.

Any thoughts on that?
Thanks in advance!

Jenny


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