MA in Translation and return on investment
Thread poster: Rachel Mackay

Rachel Mackay  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:15
French to English
+ ...
Apr 18, 2008

Hi all

I am considering doing a part-time MA in Legal Translation course and would like to know from others who have done specialised (and/or general) MA courses if you feel it is worth the money (over £4100) and hence if you feel you get a good return on investment - i.e. can you command higher prices for your work after being awarded such a qualification and do you get more work as a result of it?

Half of my degree was in French, the other half dealt with law in part - I therefore have a "related degree" already, so is it really worth my time and money investing in an MA course in this field?

Many thanks.


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Spencer Allman
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:15
Finnish to English
I did it Apr 18, 2008

In 2002 I decided to take an MA in Translation Studies. It cost over £6,000 (not including books), but I have no regrets. You can't charge clients or agencies more because you have an MA - they are not really interested - but it has had the folowing benefits for me:

1. You get a better insight into linguistics, which can serve you in good stead if you ever have to defend your position, for example.

2. I now give talks and write articles on translation - it gets me away from the computer and sometimes I even get paid - and my credibility is enhanced in this by having the MA.

3. There may be another area of linguistics that takes your fancy, which can bring alternative career prospects. For example, I got interested in forensic linguistics, and I may try to become a registered forensic linguist as a sideline.

4. You can apply what you have learnt to the everyday job of translation.

I would go for it, providing you can afford it.

Spencer


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Peter Linton  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:15
Member (2002)
Swedish to English
+ ...
I did it too/two Apr 18, 2008

Like Spencer Allman, I did it (in fact 2 Masters' degrees, hence the odd title to this message).

In addition to the points made by Spencer, for me one huge advantage was having to do a translation each week and having it scrutinised by expert professional translators. That way, you develop your skills, and also more importantly your own confidence in your ability to translate at a professional level.

Look at it also from the point of view of an outsourcer (direct customer or translation agency). An MA, particularly in Legal Translation, shows that you are serious and well-qualified, and makes you stand out from the crowds of translators with less impressive CVs.

However, you will still have to break into the freelance market, and an MA is no guarantee of success or even of better rates. But if you are prepared to negotiate, an MA is a useful asset.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Rachel Mackay  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:15
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Addendum Apr 18, 2008

I have actually been a freelancer for over 5 years now, full time, so my aim here is not to "break into" the market. I don't particularly even need new clients as I have steady incoming work - it's just I was wondering if there was any "point" in studying for a Masters.

Many job postings on this website (in my language pairs at least) often ask for translators with a translation degree - which is something that astounds me. I graduated in the early 1990s and at that time, to my knowledge, there was no such thing as a degree in translation leave alone a masters. So, obviously it was not a requirement in the past to have such qualifications so why now?

I guess it's just a case of the market evolving.


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Anaviva  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:15
Member (2004)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Worth it in practical terms Apr 18, 2008

Hi Rachel

Like yourself, I already had 5 years' experience as a full-time translator before I decided to take a 1-year MA in the UK. Frankly, the academic world of translation/interpreting was a far cry from the reality of things. In the real world, you don't have a week to pore over a 3-page translation assignment or two weeks to research a subject for an assignment. I had been living in Spain for many years by the time I took the course and found myself on many occasions being asked to give advice to the professors on terms in my fields of expertise!!!

I didn't really feel I learned a great deal in terms of freelance translating in the real world and I had already consolidated my fields of expertise to a high degree, BUT many agencies and clients rely on a translation qualification as a means of assessing a translator who is on the other side of the planet connectecd to a computer.

I suppose it depends on how large your client base is and what your plans are. If you're looking to expand your client base or work for an institution, a qualification will stand you in good stead, but if it's to increase your rates, I doubt you'll have much success.

Good luck with whatever you decide to do.

Best regards

Ana


Direct link Reply with quote
 
xxxhazmatgerman
Local time: 06:15
English to German
Mackay - degrees Apr 18, 2008

Take at look at other languages - German, for one - and you'll find that translation degrees have been around for decades. You may find it worthwhile following similar discussions in that language.
Regards.


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Sarah Lowndes  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:15
Spanish to English
+ ...
I found it very worthwhile Apr 18, 2008

Hi Rachel
I did an MA in Technical Translation in 2000 after 15 years teaching. It was a great year (though expensive as London is!)
I had to go back to teaching to pay off year out but in 2003 I came to Spain set up as a freelancer and have never looked back.
The MA gave me confidence and alot of insight. I already had a language degree but for me the MA honed my skills. It stretched me too after 15 years teaching Guten Tag!!
And to be honest it's a great feeling of achievement when you earn that certificate.
Good luck and have a great year if you decide to proceed.
Jane


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Marian Vieyra  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:15
Member (2007)
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Return on Investment Apr 18, 2008

Hello Rachel,

Just looking over your CV, it seems to me you are highly qualified in your chosen fields already, with your BA, ACI, DipTrans, corporate history and association memberships! If you like academic study go for the MA as another string to your bow, but as you know, it will take a long time to recoup the costs of the MA and it won't really contribute much more to your already impressive CV.

Good luck with your choice.

Marian


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 05:15
Dutch to English
+ ...
I presume you mean City University? Apr 18, 2008

Looking at your impressive CV Rachel, there is no apparent need for you to do it, however the translation market is evolving - as you've rightly noticed (especially in the UK) - and in five year's time you might well kick yourself.

I'm on the verge of applying for the same course, despite being a qualified lawyer, with a decade of mainstram practice under the belt. However, there's one big snag in my case - neither Dutch nor Portuguese are offered, so I'd have to attempt the Spanish route.

You're lucky, you can apply through either Spanish or French. I wouldn't hesitate if I were you - it's a really lovely course they've put together. But then again, I love studying, so doesn't take much to get me going.

Somebody said to me here the other day that there's surely nothing they can teach me (on the legal side), but that's far from true. I graduated 16 years ago - the law evolves in direct proportion to the brain cells I use up daily

I attended a 2-day course recently at the same university on contracts for legal translators. Granted, most of the legal side was a refresher course for me, but I picked up a lot of good pointers too - we can't improve and hone our skills if we don't keep learning. Some prefer to do that privately, and obviously that is an option. I can't get to it though - if I'm at the office I will inevitably work for a client, so a structured MA is ideal for me.

And if you're undecided between Spanish and French, the Spanish lecturer was excellent, devised great exercises and knows his law, having worked in a notary's office himself. He was also very pleasant and made me feel at ease, despite Spanish not being one of my working languages. He confirmed to me that he'd be giving the Spanish workshops on the MA.

Your published rates are already on the high side - and good luck to you - but as the market is evolving, it's perhaps also a question of retaining what you have as requirements change, and being able to go after new clients. This move might cost us now, but as things are going, it will almost certainly be money well spent.

[Edited at 2008-04-18 13:57]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Cristiana Coblis  Identity Verified
Romania
Local time: 07:15
Member (2004)
English to Romanian
+ ...
degree in translation Apr 18, 2008

Rachel Mackay wrote:
Many job postings on this website (in my language pairs at least) often ask for translators with a translation degree - which is something that astounds me. I graduated in the early 1990s and at that time, to my knowledge, there was no such thing as a degree in translation leave alone a masters. So, obviously it was not a requirement in the past to have such qualifications so why now?

I guess it's just a case of the market evolving.


I expect a degree in translation will become more and more a key requirement in the future, because of standard EN 15038 amongst others. After the Bologna Agreement on higher education, the best solution is going for an MA. If you are considering obtaining one, it will be a good asset.

Good luck


Direct link Reply with quote
 
xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:15
Spanish to English
+ ...
specialist course Apr 18, 2008

I agree with the points Spencer and Peter have made.

I did an MA in Translation Studies, and I do not regret it a bit. It was a wonderful opportunity to study again, and explore issues, concepts areas in a fairly leisurely way ...
It also gave me a lot of additional confidence, as someone pointed out, with this qualification you acquire a certain authority as a translator.

I couldn't automatically charge more as a consequence but the confidence factor has led me to make a substantial increase in income since then (for fewer hours).

I would strongly recommend, however, considering a specialist rather than a general master's or other course. I'm considering further, more specialist study, myself.


Direct link Reply with quote
 
RobinB  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 06:15
German to English
Worthwhile, I think Apr 18, 2008

Rachel Mackay wrote: I graduated in the early 1990s and at that time, to my knowledge, there was no such thing as a degree in translation leave alone a masters.


Heriot-Watt, Bradford, Surrey, Kent (from top to bottom, as it were), to mention just a few, were all offering postgrad courses in the early 1990s.

... it's just I was wondering if there was any "point" in studying for a Masters.
....
Many job postings on this website (in my language pairs at least) often ask for translators with a translation degree - which is something that astounds me.
....
So, obviously it was not a requirement in the past to have such qualifications so why now?


I don't think that many serious clients require a translation degree, and those that do can normally be convinced by expertise, rather than paper qualifications. Of course, lots of pissy little agencies think they're being clever by demanding translation degrees, but we're not exactly talking about the knowledge-driven high end of the market here. They certainly wouldn't know the difference, anyway: we're talking about the agencies that think a piece of paper is equivalent to expertise.

I'd say: do the City course to benefit yourself and your clients, not to satisfy some vague requirement for paper qualifications. I have to admit some self-interest here: although I've decided that I probably won't be teaching any of the Legal Translation MA myself, I do run seminars at City once a year, though only for German->English.

As somebody who's never formally studied translation, but still managed to get to the pinnacle of the profession, I wouldn't mind doing the Legal Translation MA myself. Unfortunately, I just don't have the time because of other professional commitments. Maybe when I've "retired" (although there's an old saying that good translators never retire, they just get slower - how true!).

I'd really recommend that you sign up for this course. I think you have the right profile for it, with a good first degree (where I got my own BA, incidentally), and of course the IoL Dip Trans, plus a wealth of real world experience that few translators can boast. And I'm sure you'll benefit tremendously from it, both professionally and personally.

Good luck,
Robin


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Rachel Mackay  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:15
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Apr 22, 2008

Many thanks to all of you who replied to my forum posting.

I have decided to go ahead with the course and submitted my application yesterday with an interview scheduled for next week.

Your comments certainly helped me weigh things up!


Direct link Reply with quote
 


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

MA in Translation and return on investment

Advanced search






Déjà Vu X3
Try it, Love it

Find out why Déjà Vu is today the most flexible, customizable and user-friendly tool on the market. See the brand new features in action: *Completely redesigned user interface *Live Preview *Inline spell checking *Inline

More info »
PDF Translation - the Easy Way
TransPDF converts your PDFs to XLIFF ready for professional translation.

TransPDF converts your PDFs to XLIFF ready for professional translation. It also puts your translations back into the PDF to make new PDFs. Quicker and more accurate than hand-editing PDF. Includes free use of Infix PDF Editor with your translated PDFs.

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search