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Poll: Can translators be over-qualified for a job?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
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Jul 30, 2016

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Can translators be over-qualified for a job?".

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Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:56
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Not really Jul 30, 2016

You never know when a text is going to have a tricky problem. Sometimes texts written for informal purposes are harder to figure out and require more skill. So, I'd say good skills are always required.

The exception might be back-translations. When I do these, I try to be very literal, even if the text doesn't make a whole lot of sense. The client needs to know that. A beginner could do them, but hey, it's a nice break not to be having to think so hard.

One of the skills of translation is knowing when to work on a creative interpretation and when to leave a more literal rendition. That judgment comes with experience.


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LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:56
Russian to English
+ ...
No. Jul 30, 2016

A translator who can translate Shakespeare or Proust can also usually translate a birth certificate or a simple letter. Not the other way around, though.

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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:56
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
It depends on their personality Jul 30, 2016

When a text is very (too?) straightforward there can be a tendency to become bored and stop paying attention to the detail. But that doesn't have to happen if you have the right attitude. It may be necessary to switch to a more demanding translation for a while every so often though, to stimulate the brain. And the day would seem longer.

Overall, I'd say it isn't possible, but translators probably only produce their very best work when interested and challenged.


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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 14:56
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Agreeing with Muriel! Jul 30, 2016

Sometimes translating correctly a very plain letter is as challenging as translating a very elaborate speech. I have been translating for more years than I care to remember and I have never felt overqualified. It’s just out of my character to say (or even to think) that I’m overqualified to do something. With my experience, education and background I just feel WELL qualified for the projects I accept.

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John Cutler  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:56
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other Jul 30, 2016

I'm not certain if it's really over qualification or not, but I feel over qualified when a client says to me "This is a very easy translation. It should be simple for you. Oh and by the way, because it's so simple we want to pay you less."

That type of thing does give me the impression I'm not only over qualified, I'm also not interested in the job.


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:56
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other Jul 30, 2016

As a translator, I suppose I'm over-qualifed for some of the more menial jobs I've actually had in my life.
However, if the question is euphemistically probing to see whether I consider some texts to be beneath me (which reminds me of the irritatingly arbitrary and subjective PRO vs NON-PRO categorisation of Kudoz queries), then my initial reaction is no.


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Helen Hagon  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:56
Member (2011)
Russian to English
+ ...
What kind of job? Jul 30, 2016

I suppose postgraduate qualifications could be considered overkill for serving food or cleaning floors (although I do both of those regularly and unpaid as part of being a mum). If we are talking about translation jobs, though, I don't think it's possible to be over-qualified. The more knowledge a person has, the better, whatever the field.

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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 15:56
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Other Jul 30, 2016

It mainly depends on the job. Every translator is over-qualified when it comes to PT MT.

Other than this and perhaps some really simple translations, my answer must be no. In the translation industry exists no such thing as over-qualification.


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Ana Vozone  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:56
Member (2010)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
No Jul 30, 2016

I do not think you can be (or claim to be) overqualified when translating. But being highly experienced in a certain field probably reduces the time and effort required to complete the job. This is a great advantage! Definitely a plus!

[Edited at 2016-07-30 13:10 GMT]


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Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 23:56
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
No Jul 30, 2016

Ana Vozone wrote:

I do not think you can be (or claim to be) overqualified when translating. But being highly experienced in a certain field probably reduces the time and effort required to complete the job. This is a great advantage! Definitely a plus!

[Edited at 2016-07-30 13:10 GMT]


Definitely agree here!
I know that less experienced translators would spend upwards of 40 minutes translating something that would take me just 5 minutes to do - purely because they lack the linguistic skills and knowledge to get the job done.

There seems to be a kind of twisted logic in today's poll question.


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Sadek_A  Identity Verified
Egypt
Local time: 16:56
English to Arabic
+ ...
Absolutely! Jul 30, 2016

Most of the previous answers, if not all, were delivered in consideration of content.

However, content is not always the decisive factor. Elements of volume and payment are always to be included in the decision.

Can a well-seasoned translator be over-qualified for a string of underpaid few-words-each projects?

Can a translator, seasoned or not, be over-qualified for a 1-word project with the request made by client for the most competitive rate? (A true story, btw; as it was one of ProZ's jobs.)

I think both the translator and the client should be smart enough to know that X volume and/or Y payment isn't the kind of offering to be made to a certain translator with a certain level of experience!


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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:56
English to Spanish
+ ...
Overqualified Jul 30, 2016

That's what I call this poll question.

Next.



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Anne Schulz
Germany
Local time: 15:56
English to German
Yes Jul 30, 2016

Yes, since the question is, "Can a translator be over-qualified for a job?" – No, if the question were, "Can a translator be over-qualified for his or her chosen work?"
Have none of you, who globally say "No", ever received requests for the quasi-zillionst modification or remake of a text which is 99% covered by the client's glossaries and translation memories, and where consistency with the previous texts is more important than accuracy and readability? I have, and in all modesty, for these jobs I do feel over-qualified.


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Maxi Schwarz
Local time: 08:56
German to English
+ ...
I don't understand the question; maybe I do Jul 30, 2016

For any kind of work, the bottom line is that you have to have enough knowledge and skills to do the work, and experience will help you make judgment calls. You can have too little, but how can you have too much?

The only place I've seen the term "over-qualified" where it made some sense is when somebody didn't want to pay you the amount your qualifications would indicate, or in employment, where your higher qualifications made it likely you wouldn't stick to the job. If you are an engineer working as a cashier, when engineers get paid a lot more than cashiers, then it's likely that as soon as a better paying engineering job comes along, you'll change jobs. Thus you are "over-qualified".

So .... I wonder if the person submitting the question has been told as a freelancer that he/she is "over-qualified" because hey, we want to pay you .03/word but we know you'll want more because with your background we can't fleece you.


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