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Poll: Does a degree in translation/interpretation make your search for good clients/prices easier?
Thread poster: Staff Staff
Local time: 23:57
Mar 8, 2016

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Does a degree in translation/interpretation make your search for good clients/prices easier?".

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Marjolein Snippe  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:57
Member (2012)
English to Dutch
+ ...
Yes Mar 8, 2016

It did when I started, mostly by giving me more confidence.
(No degree in my case, but the IOL Diploma in Translation.)


Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:57
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Other Mar 8, 2016

I don't have a 'degree in translation/interpretation' per se.

Also, I don't see how anyone can even begin to answer this question unless they have experienced being in two completely different situations during their career. Seems like a dopey poll question to me. icon_confused.gif

Small edit

[Edited at 2016-03-09 00:40 GMT]


Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:57
Member (2007)
+ ...
Not having one hasn't held me back Mar 8, 2016

I agree with Julian, of course: as I can't see over the "have/have not" fence, how can I evaluate the quaĺity of the grass over there?

But I find the question never occurs to direct clients or the smaller, specialised agencies that I favour as clients. They see my "CV" and read my emails they're happy to engage me. And some job posts have set a definite requirement for a degree and yet ended up giving me the job, convinced by the old "university of life" argument.

The only effect is that it saves me the hassle of applying for EU tenders. That did use to upset me somewhat, but now I realise it's somewhat of a blessing. Others seem to waste mountains of time on them.


Sophie Dzhygir  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:57
Member (2007)
German to French
+ ...
Fully with Julian Mar 8, 2016

I have no idea since I've had a degree from the start.


Teresa Borges
Local time: 07:57
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Another agree for Julian! Mar 8, 2016

I don't know, my degree is in Economics!


Chie. I  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:57
Member (2013)
English to Japanese
+ ...
Don't know.. Mar 8, 2016

Market within Japan is highly saturated/populated and they mostly look for extensive working experience plus degree in engineering or science disciplines.

Even if you have a good degree in translation, it is likely they still do not trust it unless you spend many working (not learning) years in the designated discipline.

Since from JP to EN pair is the largest volume they only require you to have good native language skill.
My impression was that they focus on native language and country, not degree or education.

Maybe a degree is considered a good hat, but you primarily need a pair of shoes & gloves (native language and working experience) to walk and carry out work. Also knowing a friend counts!

I have seen some posts with note "translation education at training schools is a plus" for entry jobs but since college degree course in translation is rarely (or not) found in universities here (higher education started out using English material so they do not have concept of focusing on translation. Being able to learn literally meant being able to read western languages. ), it is not well known qualification and never know if it works to have one. If the course also provide you a friend who order work it would be helpful but I do not know if they come to recruit or order for a job to college course.


Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:57
French to English
Same here Mar 8, 2016

My degrees are in law/French language and politics, biology/cognitive neuroscience and psychology, almost anything but translation. However, they are sufficient to convince as the first one was done in the UK, but the other two in France.


svenfrade  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:57
French to German
+ ...
I wouldn't know... Mar 8, 2016

Since I haven't got one.

I embarked on an MA in Translation a few years ago but never got to finish it for personal reasons. To be quite honest, from what I can tell from the first terms I must say that I don't think it would have improved my translation skills, therefore I didn't regret the fact that I had to give it up. For me, the 'university of life', as Sheila put it, has certainly been more valuable. My regular clients seem to agree.


Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:57
Hebrew to English
Discuss Mar 8, 2016

Probably not.


Paul Lambert  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:57
Member (2006)
Swedish to English
+ ...
No, and I understand why. Mar 8, 2016

Most of my clients have once been freelance translators themselves. Some have degrees and others not, but those I have got to know well over the years all have very similar experiences in the business generally.

Frankly, I see a degree as a negative. Too many young hot-shots think they can sit on their academic laurels and get away with producing rubbish. Those who had to prove themselves in the school of life and overcome the disadvantage of not having degrees tend to have developed the habits necessary to maintain good quality work and to improve.

Even as someone who went to university, albeit not to study translation, I must admit that I find that university tends to make people stupid. I mean that literally. Young people come out with lots of *knowledge* in their heads, but no wisdom and they end up being detached from reality (check out the English monolingual forum some time to see some examples). They come out of university *less* able to cope with reality, not better able.

I would much rather hire someone without the intellectual baggage, and I find most of my clients feel the same way.

[Edited at 2016-03-08 12:22 GMT]


Parrot  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:57
Spanish to English
+ ...
I've been around longer than the degree Mar 8, 2016

... so I can understand so many reasons behind the "nos". I got mine halfway, and it wasn't undergrad either. That's another long story, but I did get curious enough to want to look at the issues from a classroom perspective.

The good clients were always around. So were the good rates. The market just got bigger with all sorts, and every newcomer (translators and clients alike) had their own learning curve.


Platon Danilov  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:57
English to Russian
+ ...
I'm not sure Mar 8, 2016

Teresa Borges wrote:

I don't know, my degree is in Economics!

Mine either.
Though I also have a certificate in translation, it's not a degree, of course. But I feel like it may be helpful when a "credential required" job post comes up here. I guess the poll idea is something about that, isn't it?


David Earl  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:57
Member (2007)
German to English
Depends on approach Mar 8, 2016

My experience in Northern Germany is that direct, major customers prefer seeing a degree in the area of specialization (translation in this case). Having contacts may, or may not help, with such preferences/perceptions of certifications, especially in a corporate environment. For example, corporate decisions may trump the experience of the on-site department/management.

While agencies may like seeing a degree in translation, they tend to be more appreciative of experience and/or degrees in the field of the subject material(s) (IT, business or medicine, rather than translation/language).

My point with these two generalizations is that the response depends on the individual. Ultimately, inexperienced people simply have: to choose one road, to explore that road while determining their individual needs and, ultimately, to trust that there are "many roads to Rome".



Ricki Farn
Local time: 08:57
Member (2005)
English to German
Maybe it depends on what you want to translate? Mar 8, 2016

I have a degree in Computing, and I translate IT texts. That works fine. If I wanted to translate novels, or general "creative" marketing, maybe people would not want me because they'd feel my language side was inadequate? Don't know, not going to try.

The only person I know who translates novels has a degree in German language and literature, but not in translation. We have the same job in the sense that a penguin and a flamingo are both birds (and I'm not the one that can fly).

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