How do I get a translation certificate
Mariles asked: I would like to get certified as a translator for Spanish-English. I live in Manila and would like to know how I can get a certification. How important is it to be certified and is it recommended to purchase translation tools and software?
The Spanish Translator: Hi, Mariles. Thanks for asking these questions, which are questions that many people have when starting out their careers as freelance translators. You've asked a few different questions here, so I'd like to try and answer each question separately, if that's OK.
1. How can I get certified as a translator? - There are two main ways for translators to get certified. The first is by taking a translation test designed by some translation organization, such as the American Translators Association, and then passing this test according to the criteria outlined by the sponsoring organization. Many people have done this and have vowed for its usefulness. However, there are those translators out there that have not gone this route and have felt that there language and translation abilities are sufficient for the job of a freelance translator. The other route that some people take to receive a certificate in translation is taking a translation course and then receiving something like an online translation certificate upon successfully completing the course. Instead of relying on a single test for determining translation competence, these courses provide a series of classes on how to become an effective translator.
2. How important is it to be certified? - The above discussion naturally leads into the question of the importance of certification in the translation industry. As I briefly outlined above, translation certification can serve a useful purpose in showing potential clients that you have the appropriate skills to work for them. This can be especially important when a translator is just starting out and needs credibility. However, certification is not a requirement for becoming a freelance translator. The most important measure of a translator's ability is recommendations from previous clients. If a client asks if I'm certified, I tell him/her that I am not, but if they would like, they can contact some previous clients of mine to get a feel for what kind of person and translator I am. Some have taken me up on the offer, and in the end, I've never lost a translation job just because I was not certified. You can read some more on my thoughts on whether it's important or not to be a certified Spanish translation provider.
3. Should you purchase translation tools and software? - This is a question that doesn't really have a definite answer. If you put 100 translators in a room and asked them to list for you the tools and software they use, you would get 100 different answers. There is no right answer. Actually, I take that back. The only right answer is the one that works for you. Only you know what kind of translator you are and what kind of tools you need. As an example, many translators only like to use paper dictionaries that they can hold in their hands. However, I hardly ever use paper dictionaries and prefer to use online resources. Is one way right and the other wrong? No, it's just a matter of personal preference. If you get to where you are translating a lot of the same types of documents, you might want to look into some sort of translation memory software, but these are usually pretty expensive and not necessary for someone just starting out. If translation memory is something you would like to pursue further, I would recommend looking at the Google translator toolkit which is a surprisingly good option for what it gives you.
Hope that helps, and good luck!