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Do I have a chance without translation credentials?
Thread poster: Javier Grande

Javier Grande  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:31
Member (2014)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Feb 4, 2014

Hello everyone,

After some years of translating sparingly here and there, I'm finally decided to get established as a full-time translator. I'm trying to build a nice profile here (including asking previous clients for feedback or visiting KudoZ whenever I can) and I'm thinking as well of becoming a member.

My problem is that, as of today, I don't have any translation credentials: all I can put on the table is one year of Translation and Interpreting at the University. A couple of weeks ago I took the DipTrans, but unfortunately I don't think it's likely that I pass all three units.

I have quite a solid scientific background (Ph.D.) and also some non-negligible experience (~200,000 words), especially relevant in the field of technical/scientific translation. However, as I said, my work as a translator has been always sporadic.

And now I would like to go full-time, but I'm afraid that my lack of credentials could prove to be an insurmountable obstacle. I think honestly that I'm a good translator...however, I also think maybe I won't even make the first cut in most job postings.

So, I would really appreciate it if you could give some advice. Do you think it is a good idea to pay for a membership and try to become a full-time translator in my situation? Or will it be like mission impossible until I manage to get some accreditation or degree?

Thanks a lot in advance for your help and greetings to all,
J


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:31
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
My two cents Feb 4, 2014

When I started translating almost 20 years ago, the market was booming and I found it relatively easy to work without any credentials (I was in IT before). Now customers have thousands of profiles at their fingertips over the Internet, and I reckon that it could prove more difficult to start a nice flow of work today.

However, do not be discouraged. Credentials are always good to have and they certainly put you ahead of competitors, but a nice profile in translator portals like this one and a carefully prepared CV will convey the message nicely to potential customers. I would say that a Proz.com membership does pay, but you also have to do things to improve your visibility: create your own website (with your own domain if you can), participate in Kudoz so that you accumulate points as proof of your knowledge, try to gather feedback from your previous customers in your Proz.com profile...

Having said this, I do believe that for a steady flow of work in the long run you will need credentials. In the summer you will know whether you have passed the DipTrans. If you fail any of the papers, ask yourself why (the feedback you get from IOL is really limited) and try to invest in courses to improve before trying again. Most technical translators (myself included) fail the General paper in the first go, and it is good to take a course in translation so that you practice with types of text than well outside your specialisations.

Maybe resuming your T+I studies at University could be a wise move for the long run. Although I cannot complain of volume of work, I started studying a degree in translation this year and am very happy that I did, although I am older than my fellow students' parents!

Good luck!


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Javier Grande  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:31
Member (2014)
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for the advice Feb 4, 2014

Thank you very much for all the advice, Tomás. I will try to complete my profile, including CV, translation samples, recommendations, personal web, etc.

As for the DipTrans, I'd say the main problem was time (or rather lack of ). Before the examination I took an on-line course...well, in fact just a set of 8 translations, with the assessment of a tutor, and she was really happy with my performance. But it seems I'm still lacking the ability to produce a very good translation in the stringent conditions of the DipTrans. So I guess that translating regularly could be of great help...I hope I will be able to do it!

I don't know, I'm hoping that in the field of technical translation my scientific background could somewhat offset my lack of translation credentials. But also I don't know if there's a lot of work---or competition---in that field

Indeed I would like to complete some day my training as a translator, as you are doing now. But in this moment I don't have the patience (neither the money, I'm afraid), I really feel like starting to work more frequently and gaining some valuable experience.

Well, as I said, thank you very much for all the advice. Saludos!


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Tatty  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:31
Spanish to English
+ ...
Qualifications Feb 4, 2014

Hi Javier,

Translation is now regulated by EU law. The EU saw fit to introduce this legislation in order to protect purchasers of translations, who were deemed to be getting a raw deal. Agencies should only really work with qualified translators, that is you should either have 3 years full-time experience or a degree or masters-level qualification in translating. However, EU agencies could potentially flout this legislation.You could try to bypass agencies by finding direct clients who are ignorant of the legislation but you would be opening yourself up from a legal point of view, both in terms of liability in contract and in tort. Otherwise you could work for agencies/clients outside of the EU. So it may be possible to become a full-time translator, especially if you have a solid specialisation behind you.


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Mark Benson  Identity Verified

English to Swedish
+ ...
Incorrect info Feb 4, 2014

Tatty wrote:

Hi Javier,

Translation is now regulated by EU law. The EU saw fit to introduce this legislation in order to protect purchasers of translations, who were deemed to be getting a raw deal. Agencies should only really work with qualified translators, that is you should either have 3 years full-time experience or a degree or masters-level qualification in translating. However, EU agencies could potentially flout this legislation.You could try to bypass agencies by finding direct clients who are ignorant of the legislation but you would be opening yourself up from a legal point of view, both in terms of liability in contract and in tort. Otherwise you could work for agencies/clients outside of the EU. So it may be possible to become a full-time translator, especially if you have a solid specialisation behind you.



There's a problem in that your info is not correct or incomplete. I don't have time right this moment but if you or somebody else can post to a source we will see that.


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Decipherit  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:31
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Aim for membership of a professional association Feb 4, 2014

If I were you I would still aim for some form of accreditation and retake the Dip. Trans. if it is feasible to do so. The qualification will always stand you in good stead.

Those with strong specialist subject knowledge sometimes find the ITI’s qualifying exam easier than the Dip. Trans. so you may want to consider that instead. It is also a cheaper exam than the Dip. Trans. The disadvantage is that it is not a qualification as such but it will allow you membership of a respected translation association.


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David Hayes  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 18:31
Member (2009)
French to English
Not regulated Feb 4, 2014

Translation is not yet a regulated profession (at least not in Europe), but I think things are probably heading that way:

http://books.google.fr/books?id=ZR50X7CZOSQC&pg=PA109&lpg=PA109&dq=is%20translation%20a%20regulated%20profession%20in%20Europe&source=bl&ots=WD0Ojr-l3h&sig=myqsmfajcZUBuBunz6WRsDVPa7Y&hl=fr&sa=X&ei=mMXwUvfpJeia0AWQ8oCIBg&ved=0CFUQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=is%20translation%20a%20regulated%20profession%20in%20Europe&f=false

I have translation qualifications, but I cannot honestly say they have helped me find work (at least, not on their own). Experience and specialist knowledge are currently just as important in the eyes of potential clients. But, as I said, I think things are changing and qualifications will become more important.


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Emma Goldsmith  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:31
Member (2010)
Spanish to English
A "like" for Tomás' post Feb 4, 2014

Lisa Simpson, MCIL wrote:

Those with strong specialist subject knowledge sometimes find the ITI’s qualifying exam easier than the Dip. Trans. so you may want to consider that instead.


I agree, Lisa, but you have to have 3 years' experience to be eligible for the exam.

Javier, you may be interested in a blog post I wrote, comparing the two exams: http://signsandsymptomsoftranslation.com/2013/06/11/diptrans-miti/

I agree with absolutely everything Tomás mentioned in his post above.


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Terry Richards
France
Local time: 18:31
French to English
+ ...
Yes, every chance Feb 4, 2014

I'm a translator. I don't have translation credentials.

I do have 30 years of experience in IT/Engineering but I would say your PhD would probably perform the same function. Focus on the field you have expertise in and then spread out from there as you get translation experience.


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Tatty  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:31
Spanish to English
+ ...
Regulated "unregulated" profession Feb 4, 2014

Indeed, it is. It's a regulated unregulated profession. The directive was passed several years ago now. I have no link I'm afraid. But it was discussed on this site. Most occupations are now regulated by EU law, using the MS's domestic laws as the starting point. Interestingly, the purpose was to enhance mobility within the EU, while for translation it was felt that the consumer rights of EU citizens were being undermined.

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LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:31
Russian to English
+ ...
To become a member of some associations, you don't Feb 4, 2014

have to pass any exams, unless you want the certification, which they usually don't have in all the language pairs. You just have to prove 3 years of experience, in most of the cases, and pay them about $200 a year. The certification exams cost about $500.

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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:31
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Hi there!! Feb 4, 2014

Emma Goldsmith wrote:
I agree with absolutely everything Tomás mentioned in his post above.

You are much too kind Emma. Cheers!


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Javier Grande  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:31
Member (2014)
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
ITI / membership for another association? Feb 4, 2014

First of all, thank you very much for all your answers, it's really nice to have such a lot of useful comments!

In case I don't pass the DipTrans, I plan indeed to retake it (well, provided I pass at least one unit, which I hope certainly to be the case.)

Lisa also suggested the ITI exam as a "more friendly" test for someone with specialized knowledge (now I will take a look at your post, Emma), and Lilian added that one can become member of other associations without taking any exam by paying around $200 a year.

I do have three years of provable experience (even if part-time) so maybe this kind of associations could be an option. What do you think about that way? Would it be a sensible choice for someone in my circumstances, until I get some kind of accreditation? Any association in particular that you would recommend?

Thank you again, the discussion is being tremendously useful for me!


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:31
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Specialisation must be your niche Feb 4, 2014

Terry Richards wrote:
Focus on the field you have expertise in and then spread out from there as you get translation experience.

You have six language pairs so surely you'll find enough specialised jobs to keep you busy. Obviously, you'll want to accept anything that's offered, that you can do well, to begin with, just to pay the bills and gain experience. But if I were you I'd aim to hide that experience later on and insist on specialisation, if it's paying. And I think it will. Just remember that you're offering a specialised service that the majority of people cannot offer, so you don't work for peanuts.

Your first important job here is to write something really positive about yourself in the "About Me" section of your profile. Tell potential clients about your education, and especially that Ph.D., and relevant experience. Make sure your profile is sending a really solid, unambiguous message. I don't know what you can and can't do, but maybe you should consider whether to remove some of your proposed services (e.g. subtitling), and maybe marketing work (which is a very different kettle of fish from your other subject areas).


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Javier Grande  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:31
Member (2014)
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Good advise, thanks! Feb 4, 2014

Thank you Sheila, all those are very good advices! I will try to write an appealing "About me" section and try to focus on the services/fields directly related to my expertise.

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