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What certification is worth investing in to consolidate your career?
Autor de la hebra: Vincent Lemma

Vincent Lemma  Identity Verified
Italia
Local time: 17:01
Miembro 2008
italiano al inglés
+ ...
Apr 19

Hello All,
The translation industry is a tough place, we all know that, and despite the fact that one has many years of experience in the industry it really seems that the freelancer has little guarantees to go on in terms of steady work flow.
One reaches a crossroad and kind of wonders where to go from there.
Personally I am mainly a technical translator who also works in other fields but I do not have certification in any specific fields translation, nor do I have accreditation as a certified translator from any associations, though I do have a diploma in my fields of expertise.... but I feel it is not enough.

There seems to be so many options out there to further grow, even if one has been translating for numerous years. The thing is, I really am not sure if it is worth pursuing any sort of certification in engineering, rather than in the translation of contracts, or such. Furthermore, with the slew of translation associations and programs available it all really gets confusing. I often think that to stand out from the crowd you really need to have something to back you up, but I am not sure what.

Does anyone have any helpful advice that they can share?


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Tomás Cano Binder, CT  Identity Verified
España
Local time: 17:01
Miembro 2005
inglés al español
+ ...
Go global Apr 19

In a global word, you want to go for an accreditation that is recognised globally, i.e. either BA/MA in Translation, the ATA Certification, CIOL's Diploma in Translation, ITI membership, and/or a national accreditation in your target language that is well known outside your home country.

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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:01
inglés al español
+ ...
Advice for the young at heart Apr 19

Forget the go global mantra, or the innovate babbling. Are you an excellent writer in the fields of your expertise? Can you explain, in writing and from scratch, an industrial process, or give a proper description of a machine or therapy?

Excellent writing skills trump certificates and diplomas because, in the end, translation is about texts, not bilingual lists of words, not CAT tools, no fancy websites or Facebook followers.

And the environment is tough (and it is not an everyone knows that affair) because there is saturation: too much supply (too many translators) for the demand for translators, no matter what government publication or trade rag you consult for some promising increase in translation services. Those statistics are meaningless unless you run a corporation.

Membership in a trade association may be useful to gain exposure and secure new clients, but that is not the association's only purpose of being. Trade associations (ITI, ATA, ASETRAD, etc.) are not public relations or marketing offices with professional staff.

Since our career has cycles, feast and famine, there is no 'career consolidation' ever. Clients come and go, project managers have a high turnover among some translation agencies; those are things outside of our control.


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Tom in London
Reino Unido
Local time: 16:01
Miembro 2008
italiano al inglés
None of that matters Apr 19

Quote "What certification is worth investing in to consolidate your career?"

I have none, and I'm doing OK. I agree with Mario: "excellent writing skills trump certificates and diplomas".

[Edited at 2017-04-19 10:44 GMT]


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
España
Local time: 16:01
Miembro 2007
inglés
+ ...
Maybe concentrate first on your message and your market Apr 19

Vincent Lemma wrote:
Personally I am mainly a technical translator who also works in other fields but I do not have certification in any specific fields translation, nor do I have accreditation as a certified translator from any associations, though I do have a diploma in my fields of expertise.... but I feel it is not enough.

You're a translator who has over ten years experience in translation (presumably some in electrical engineering) and who has a degree in electrical engineering. Is that really not standing you in good stead? I would have thought it would.

Where does most of your work come from? What I mean is, are you hoping to showcase your talents on ProZ.com? If you are, then there are a few things that would help:
- You could apply for membership of the PRO network, the little red "P". It isn't a recognised certification as such but your application is peer-reviewed and that could appeal to clients who are looking here.
- You should definitely try to drum up some testimonials from past and present clients so that you can show an impressive WWA record. That is very important to potential clients as those entries become your references.
- You should upload some samples of your work so that potential clients can see what you actually do.

Maybe you'd be interested in the type of translation certificate I did when I was starting out, from www.wls.ie? It hardly seems relevant with all your experience, and I certainly wouldn't bother in your shoes, but it might help you qualify for more jobs here on this site as you would have "certification". The other obvious option would be the DipTrans.

But I would suggest that before you start spending money on a qualification that you've really "outgrown" already, you pay some attention to the message you're sending potential clients. You've got a lot of powerful words to say about your experience, and many things going for you, but IMHO you're watering them down terribly by trying to be both a specialist and a Jack of all trades. I think you'd do better by marketing yourself very clearly as doing only what you do most and/or best. I would imagine that would be electrical engineering, and closely connected subject areas, but maybe your career has moved you away from that. But whatever it is, concentrate on it, and it alone. Your four-page tome of a CV that details everything you've ever done in life is really doing you a massive disservice. It's full of great stuff but what client is going to bother to read it all?

Of course, in reality, if you're commissioned for a job in your specialist technical area, and then the client asks if you can do their annual report or their website, it's up to you whether you take it on or not. You don't have to turn down every job outside your specialisation; but you really can't successfully market yourself to every person with every need.


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Chris S  Identity Verified
Reino Unido
Miembro 2011
sueco al inglés
+ ...
Curious Apr 19

Mario Chavez wrote:

And the environment is tough (and it is not an everyone knows that affair) because there is saturation: too much supply (too many translators) for the demand for translators, no matter what government publication or trade rag you consult for some promising increase in translation services.



How do you know that?

Hasn't there always been a bottomless well of bilingual amateurs operating alongside us pros?


OP: I don't know the answer. I don't think my certifications/qualifications have ever mattered to any of my customers. Word of mouth has been key.

[Edited at 2017-04-19 13:14 GMT]


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DZiW
Ucrania
inglés al ruso
+ ...
From my perspective Apr 19

There're three big components:

(1) QUALIFICATION as being a proficient specialist
+
(2) BUSINESS-ORIENTATION as being a smart businessman
+
(3) COMMUNICATION as being able to comprehend how to unite the two above
[Not to mention pseudo-random and attendant circumstances.]

Therefore, it's just someone daring, who possess "enough" knowledge in the field, has "relevant" skills and proper tools, can "timely" assess and "successfully" manage the business--including satisfied "repetitive" clients. No certification would 100% do, alas.

Why, almost everything comes with one's exp (including others'), yet most certifications are but fast transient, because even when they (rarely) provide a certain standards and education, they are of no use without maintaining and improving--implementation and refreshment.

So far, the feasible solution is a total diversification-- more relevant and business skills and knowledge, more hands-on exp, and more communication skills (good contacts); NOT mere certifications, which are very seldom of the face value--rather subjective, selective, rejective, limited, and temporary.

The RESULT is your best certification.

[Edited at 2017-04-19 19:48 GMT]


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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:01
inglés al español
+ ...
Curiosity almost killed Chris :) Apr 20

Chris S wrote:

Mario Chavez wrote:

And the environment is tough (and it is not an everyone knows that affair) because there is saturation: too much supply (too many translators) for the demand for translators, no matter what government publication or trade rag you consult for some promising increase in translation services.



How do you know that?

Hasn't there always been a bottomless well of bilingual amateurs operating alongside us pros?



I know it every single time I see the number of people who post inane Kudoz questions (and they're supposed to be translators). One of these arrivistes, with no Proz profile, has already posted more than 300 questions. Proz doesn't seem to care.

I know it also because of the downward pressure on prices. That indicates a glut of supply (too many translators or so-called translators). Have you seen what the US Bureau of Labor publishes about translators?

And, back atcha: how do you know that there is a bottomless well of bilingual amateurs operating alongside us pros? Grab a beer, it's going to be a long night!



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Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
Reino Unido
Local time: 16:01
inglés al italiano
not only... Apr 20

Mario Chavez wrote:



I know it also because of the downward pressure on prices. That indicates a glut of supply (too many translators or so-called translators). Have you seen what the US Bureau of Labor publishes about translators?



It also indicates too many agencies, competing on price, IMO...


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Vincent Lemma  Identity Verified
Italia
Local time: 17:01
Miembro 2008
italiano al inglés
+ ...
PERSONA QUE INICIÓ LA HEBRA
BRANCHING OUT Apr 20

[quote]Sheila Wilson wrote:

Vincent Lemma wrote:
but IMHO you're watering them down terribly by trying to be both a specialist and a Jack of all trades. I think you'd do better by marketing yourself very clearly as doing only what you do most and/or best.


My years of work started out and focus on engineering (electrical and connected areas) and over time I have also gained knowledge in other fields, as it seems normal to do.
I am by no means, for example, an expert in business; however, I have translated a fair share of certain types of contracts linked to engineering. Being naturally inclined to study whatever I set out to do, I felt it important to gain greater knowledge in legal terminology related to contracts.

Sure, to be honest, I have accepted various assignments in different fields when I was starting out so that I could get work and assert myself as a translator, but these are working fields and not fields in which I specialize. Also, I would never accept assignments regarding certain topics that I am just unable and unwilling to tackle, such as financial.
The fact is, sometimes I feel that there's not a lot of work in my field of specialization, but this may be because I am not perceived as an expert in one area.

This is all worth taking into consideration.


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Tina Vonhof  Identity Verified
Canadá
Local time: 09:01
Miembro 2006
neerlandés al inglés
+ ...
Other certification Apr 20

I agree with Mario, Tom, and Sheila that writing skills are the most important thing to have. You have a profile with super experience in your field and some related fields as well. I think all of us who specialize in certain fields have other fields that we won't touch - you cannot be a master of everything - in fact, it may be better not to.

If you are not doing that already, participate in Kudoz. Your peers will get to know you and you can get the certified PRO designation, as Sheila suggests. I also sometimes get referrals from proz colleagues and I refer clients to them. Another thing you might consider is membership in, for example, ATA and AITI. Such memberships usually also involve a certification process. I think that may give you that little extra you are looking for. At this stage of your career there is no need for a diploma or certificate - your time would be better spent on marketing.

I wish you well.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
España
Local time: 16:01
Miembro 2007
inglés
+ ...
Actually, let me rephrase it slightly Apr 20

We all go outside our specializations from time to time, and there's nothing wrong with it. I market myself "aggressively" as a marketing specialist, even to the point of saying I don't take on anything else. But while that's true for potential clients, my actual clients will tell you that I can have my arm twisted on occasions - partnership agreements, safety instructions, business documents etc - anything to keep a regular client happy will be considered if it isn't highly technical, and even then they sometimes have experts who can help (I just wouldn't give any guarantees). So, let me amend that quote a little:

Sheila Wilson wrote:
but IMHO you're watering them down terribly by trying to be both a specialist and a Jack of all trades. I think you'd do better by marketing yourself very clearly as doing the thing you do most and/or best.


In promoting yourself on ProZ.com, the best way of standing out without closing any doors is to give a very clear single message in everything - specialisations, tag line, user message, samples, "about me" text, KudoZ points to a certain extent (although don't refuse to answer other questions!)... But, list all your other subject areas as working fields - the way you have your profile set up at present. That means you'll still receive information about jobs in those fields and you'll be free to quote on them, giving full details of your experience in that area.

For interpreting work, I don't know how many clients would be interested in that as well as translation. You might do well to reduce its mention to a line or two on your translation CV, and have a separate CV to send to clients who are interested in interpreting. After all, it's a very different type of work. Speaking personally, I've condensed 15 years of EFL teaching into three lines as it isn't of prime importance to the clients I'm targeting here. If anyone's interested, I do have a teaching CV as well.

Congratulations on the WWA !


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Chris S  Identity Verified
Reino Unido
Miembro 2011
sueco al inglés
+ ...
[Tired. Need wine] Apr 20

Mario Chavez wrote:
How do you know that there is a bottomless well of bilingual amateurs operating alongside us pros?

Got me there, Mario.




[Edited at 2017-04-20 18:58 GMT]


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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:01
inglés al español
+ ...
OR... too many one-person translation agencies Apr 21

Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL wrote:

Mario Chavez wrote:



I know it also because of the downward pressure on prices. That indicates a glut of supply (too many translators or so-called translators). Have you seen what the US Bureau of Labor publishes about translators?



It also indicates too many agencies, competing on price, IMO...


True story.



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DZiW
Ucrania
inglés al ruso
+ ...
certified diploma mills Apr 21

One should tell just a fancy paper or a title from real skills and knowledge (assumed) behind it.

Unfortunately, it’s very easy to buy almost any certification, for it’s just a matter of contacts and price—at least in the CIS (ex-USSR) and near abroad. However, rather often I meet people from the USA and Europe with fake degrees and papers from numerous unaccredited schools, agencies, and bodies. So what?

Furthermore, nobody can guarantee that one still maintains the required level. Let’s see, some 18 years ago, I got my doctor's assistant diploma, yet without continuous practice my estimated medical proficiency is under 5%, alas. Ok, just no need, I don't work at the hospital, but I still do have the certification (and I'm a little afraid of other 'doctors').

Perhaps, that’s why clever employers and clients go straight down to business: Show us what you really can!


Once I thought even for the initial success (minimum $10K/month net) a competent translator ought to and must have all the required skills and more, but it appears not to be the case: a relatively successful ($20K) freelancer, who can't type well and with poor communication skills, hiring typists and representatives; a more successful ($35K) translator without a high education running an agency of top university-level employees, a really successful ($48K, now expat) specialist who [by chance] became an interpreter working with international groups as an expert witness, and so on. Therefore, it's not about what and how one can or can't do, but rather about mitigation and compensation.


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