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Opinion regarding non-degree translators in proz
Thread poster: Dimitris Papageorgiou

Dimitris Papageorgiou  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:24
English to Greek
Mar 26, 2010

I became a member in proz a month ago. I do not have a translator degree. The only "asset" i have that might be useful is that i studied business administration in an English speaking academic institution for 5 years.
I believe my English are good(at least in some fields), but.....

What i have noticed so far is that the level of translators in proz is very high(credential, many-years experience, relevant studies....). I think proz is aimed mostly to these professionals.

I am considering to ask for a refund because it is difficult to compete in such a basis. It is not worth paying-at least for me. It is difficult to have ROI having the above in mind.
Being a simple member will suffice for now.

I do not say that there is no market for people like me,i am just saying proz is not the one.

Of course i will not abandon my efforts(i am considering my next moves),-neither will i ask for a refund today-i am just describing to you my impressions.

What is your opinion.


Harry Heijkoop  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:24
English to Dutch
+ ...
On the contrary Mar 26, 2010

when I became a member of Proz, I did not have any degree in translation either - still haven't. I did have several years of experience.
Bottom line is: you will not be able to translate for the European Union because they only want certified translators, but the rest of the world is just interested in two things:
1) How much do you cost?
2) How good is your work?
In may cases you are asked to perform a test translation.
I have had an immense amount of work thanks to Proz. So my advise is: follow up on all the requests for your language. You will be surprised.
Harry Heijkoop


Egils Turks (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:24
English to Latvian
+ ...
Also, no formal education in translation Mar 26, 2010

I also studied business in US - got masters degree (MBA) in SUNY at Buffalo.
And, I do not have formal education in languages, translation, too.
I have quite a long working experience in various fields, though.

I am already a year here in as a full member.
My conclusion is that it is possible to gain client attention also not having formal education in translation. I got 3 substantial jobs from outsourcers/agencies (and several small ones) and one 2 moth long project from a client from US (but it was not directly from Proz, I was referred by a ProZ member).
Having said that, I have to admit that lately it's getting harder - I am strugling to win ProZ biddings, with little success.


Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:24
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
The opinion of a "non-degree" Mar 26, 2010

I think reflects the state of the industry in general: in the industry you will find excellent translators with BA's and MSc's in translation and interpretation, but also a fair amount of excellent translators with no degree in translation.

In my case I don't have a degree and my capabilities come straight from experience in a number of areas. Despite not having a degree in T+I, I have proven that I am very capable of supplying quality translations and my customers have a very good opinion of my work so far (15 years in business).

I'd say that about 50% of translators in don't have formal training in translation at present, so you are perfectly capable of competing in this market. Something I would recommend is that you seek some form of certification based on your translation abilities, like the ATA certification, IOL's Diploma in Translation (DipTrans), NAATI's certification, Canadian certifications... In these exams you can prove your abilities with practical translation jobs, and they can give you a clear competitive edge in I must however warn you that you should prepare for them as they are not easy to pass.


neilmac  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:24
Spanish to English
+ ...
Not necessary Mar 26, 2010

You do not need a translation degree to be a good translator, although in today's credential-obsessed world it does help.
However, I would suggest that someone capable of posting "I believe my English are good" should not be considering setting up in business as a translator, of English at any rate.


Yael Ramon  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:24
German to Hebrew
+ ...
Benefits of PROZ Mar 26, 2010

Dear Dimitris

The benefits of PROZ membership are way beyond looking for a job.
this is where you can find answers to your professional questions, either by searching the vast glossary area, or by asking for help on specific terms and problematics.
you can also enjoy the discounts on various products that are a "Must" for translators today (through group purchasing), attend various trainings, clear issues in connection with the profession, meet others online (which eventually lead to collaboration and work opportunities). all this takes some time to find out, to get adjusted to...

My advise to you - go in at least once a week, open every corner, search every page, get acquainted with the Branch.
Don't break your membership - it is already paid.
Believe me - there are far more non-certified here than certified.
After a few months you will start to notice the difference - you will find answers to your questions, people will start contacting you with offers...(Greek is not so common...)
And in the worst scenario - you can always choose not to prolong your membership for another year - but give yourself time (and give others time to find you, too...)

Good luck
Yael Ramon


Local time: 23:24
bad English Mar 26, 2010

neilmac wrote:
However, I would suggest that someone capable of posting "I believe my English are good" should not be considering setting up in business as a translator, of English at any rate.

I couldn't agree more!

These days everyone who has either lived or studied abroad seems to think that they can easily become a translator. Don't get me wrong: I have nothing against self-educated translators who had good education.

We all speak a certain language but that doesn't make us translators yet!


Mohamed Mehenoun  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:24
English to French
+ ...
No degree in translation Mar 26, 2010

I don't have any degree and here I am...You have another degree which makes you an expert....

Cheers !


Erik Freitag  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:24
Member (2006)
Dutch to German
+ ...
you don't need a degree in translation, but... Mar 26, 2010

You don't necessarily need a degree in translation. You state you also translate into English, but this hilarious passage won't help getting you any jobs:

Dimitris Papageorgiou wrote:

I believe my English are good

When you're as careful when translating into Greek, a degree in translation probably isn't going to take you very far either...

Edit: I have looked at your profile page, and I think that you could do a lot better if you didn't constantly alert your potential customers of the fact that you don't have a degree in translation. Chances are that if you can prove you can do the translation well, and if you show that you have a degree in the field you want to work in as a translator, nobody's going to care whether you have a degree in translation at all, let alone ask for it.

[Bearbeitet am 2010-03-26 11:17 GMT]


Aguas de Mar (X)
The problem is not the degree... Mar 26, 2010

...The problem you describe is that you basically bought something that does not fit your needs, and you only found out about it after having paid.

You could always ask for a refund based on what you just explained, and see how Proz management reacts. I personally think they would probably do not object to issue a partial refund based on the months that remain from your one year membership. However, they could also state, and rightly so, that you had the chance to be a non paying member and explore the site and its usefulness before deciding to become a paying member, and that no one forced you to do so.

In this case, as in all others, I think that the "buyer beware" statement applies, except it has to be applied before buying the product or service, and not afterward.

As you can see Proz members form an extremely varied community; there are experienced and inexperienced translators and interpreters; those with a degree in translation or other subject, and those without; and those who pay and those who don't. We all find Proz useful in one way or another, but not in the same way. However, one thing that I woudl not recommend is to trust the site as the sole source for translation work. This would be a very bad mistake, IMHO.

[Edited at 2010-03-26 11:25 GMT]


Tatty  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:24
Spanish to English
+ ...
Profile page Mar 26, 2010

Efreitag is right. You have to do something about your profile page, seriously, you don't come across well.

Good luck to you.


Annamaria Amik  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:24
Romanian to English
+ ...
Agree with efreitag & co. Mar 26, 2010

It is likely that you don't make such mistakes in your native language, so you should focus on translating into your native language (.. English are.. - unless you were talking about English people you own and work for youicon_razz.gif )

My experience is that specialization/experience in the subject field + being native in the target language is what makes a winner combination.

And definitely, you DON'T want to draw attention to your deficiencies. Instead, you should emphasize your skills and specialization, something you do offer; a self-confident translator is much more attractive than a self-conscious one.

As for your main concern, lack of credentials: not sure how it works in other countries, but here (Romania), it is not rare that language professionals are inapt to translate in particular fields. Here, graduates in Letters can automatically obtain a translator's license (for legal translations); yet, even though they excel in linguistics and phraseology and syntax, they have no idea about contracts, public procurements, invoices etc. (Don't get me wrong: I have the highest regard for many-many colleagues who hold such degrees).

Another example to make my point: the best "translator" colleagues I worked with are my husband, who has nothing to do with linguistics, but is an environmental engineer, excellent speaker of English and other languages, who actually knows what those documents are about, where and how they are used; and a friend who is an attorney and speaks foreign languages. It is not hard to learn how to speak a language correctly, especially if it's your native tongue; it is must harder to learn the fields!

Imho, you should focus on language pairs and fields where you are confident about your work.


P.S. And yes, ProZ is an excellent interface for clients/outsourcers and translators. It was my best move to register as full member.

[Edited at 2010-03-26 12:22 GMT]


José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:24
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Wrong degree Mar 26, 2010

I have a degree, but it's a BSc in Industrial Mechanical Engineering, supposedly worthless for a translator, so the degree in itself makes no difference.

On the other hand, I am a Certified Public Translator by the Brazilian government, a very hard-to-get credential for a lot of reasons. Okay, I passed two serious exams, however they didn't require any education at all to take them. If I managed to pass these exams without having finished elementary school, there wouldn't be any problem. And this law dates back from 1943, about half a century before President Lula - who has little formal education - was elected to govern Brazil.

Some clients only look for credentials, they don't seem to care about skills, talent, nor experience. When they get a lousy job, they can always blame the institutions who issued them. Other clients just want low rates, they don't care if the vendor ever went to school. And there are also the professional ones, of course.

You'll find clients of all these kinds - and some others too - on Proz. Don't worry about not having a degree. JUst endlessly go on developing the competencies you need to provide a good, reliable translation job. If you succeed in this, you may also succeed as a translator.


Edwal Rospigliosi  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:24
Member (2004)
English to Spanish
+ ...
I do not have a degree, either Mar 26, 2010

And my initial investment has already paid back more than 100 times over. However, you won't go far in just one month, you need to give it time and effort. Participation in forums, kudoz, etc., are a good way to make yourself known. Your membership fee also includes webhosting- use it. Brush up your networking skills.

Do not lose your faith. It took me several months to get my first job, but I'd say my ProZ membership has been the best investment I've ever made.

And for God's sake, proofread your profile.

[Editado a las 2010-03-26 13:32 GMT]


Ahnan Alex  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:24
Member (2010)
English to Indonesian
+ ...
Must a translator have a degree? Mar 26, 2010

What has happened to you might be the same to some members of proz elsewhere. I was the one like you at the first time I joined proz and I thought that proz was not for the one like me, for all members almost have amazing credentials and this thing made me small. I tried to ignore that feeling and kept doing what I thought it was good for my translation skill improvement. I made some articles, posted some comments in proz forum, helped other translators solve their problems, etc. Amazingly, some other members of proz try to get along with me including some agents that try to contact me to ask for collaboration. From the occurrence, I just concluded that what I thought at the first time I joined proz was absolutely wrong! Proz is for every one that is willing to get along with all things related to the translation. Please be informed that some of the great translators in my country have neither translation degree nor English background. They are from other educational backgrounds. So, keep doing the best in proz and you'll find the most valuable things in it. I bet you will.

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