Do I need to be certified to Work as a Translator?
The question of needing a certificate for a translation job depends as much on who offers the job as it does the level of experience required. For example, international governing bodies like the United Nations and NATO require candidates to pass exams designed specifically for these organizations. A certification, in such cases, is not required, but can help candidates qualify for testing. On the other hand, organizations such as Mi5 and other UK security organizations prefer certified translators who also have additional education and work experience. International corporations and businesses that operate abroad may require certification, depending on the level of demand for a particular language.
In short, candidates do not necessarily have to have a certificate for a translation job. However, a certificate greatly improves the chances for translators to gain private clients, land translation projects, or qualify to test for different translation positions. In some cases, a translator may hold a particular certificate, but still be required to sit for an employer’s exam or obtain employer preferred certification. In terms of private translation on a contract or freelance basis, a certificate can be crucial to landing clients. Certificates prove knowledge, ability, fluency, and past experience with a given language.
Certificates, depending on the issuer, can also show or prove proficiency with various tasks relative to translation jobs such as proper document formatting and cultural understanding. In many cultures, translators must not only understand specific words, but the context in which they are used. These context clues may be subtle and only picked up by someone with extensive experience not only in language fluency, but also in cultural nuances and slang terminology. In such cases, many organizations that contract translators or hire freelance translators rely on certifications and other information to gauge a candidate’s ability to provide accurate, contextual translation services.
For beginning translators, a certificate in their native or mother language is a good place to start. However, in order to perform well as a professional translator, extensive knowledge of at least two languages is normally required. Naturally, since translation requires converting communication from one language to another, understanding of both languages would be paramount to successful translation. As such, certification in multiple languages is the best option. A career in translation normally requires fluency and certification in three or more languages. However, to simply get a job as a translator, which could mean anything from freelance work to full time employment, certification in two languages would be the minimum.
-By Adriana Tassini
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