You do not need to be certified to call yourself a translator. However, as a business owner, you certainly want your language services provider to be accountable for his or her work — some kind of warranty, if you like. Here are the top 5 reasons why to choose a certified translator.
1. His skills are acknowledged by a professional corporation or association.
Becoming a certified translator does not happen just like that! To become certified, the candidate has to go through a very strict selection process.
First, he has to meet all the baseline requirements, like obtain a university diploma in translation recognized by the corporation or association (from specific schools) or demonstrate equivalent experience. In Quebec, to become a member of the Ordre des traducteurs, terminologues et interprètes agréés du Québec (OTTIAQ), the applicant may have to go through a mentorship program for a certain period (six months). Then, he has to follow a two-day course on ethics and professional standards of practice. Once all these steps are successfully completed, a membership committee reviews his application, and… Hurray!
In Quebec, certified translators are identified by the letters ‘‘C. Tr.’’ or ‘‘trad. a.’’ (in French) after their name.
2. The certified translator masters his target language.
In most cases, a translator translates into his mother tongue. A translator can only be certified to translate into languages for which he has demonstrated to have the appropriate skills. Even if we need to know perfectly the source and target languages in the translation process, we have much more cognitive resources (such as vocabulary, expressions, etc.) in the language we learned in childhood than in second or third languages learned as adults.
Just think about your last trip in Mexico or the Caribbean: after a week, you felt like you understood almost everything you heard in Spanish. ‘‘This is it, I’m speaking Spanish now!’’ were you thinking with excitement. However, could you write a letter in perfect Spanish that would sound ‘‘normal’’ for a Spanish speaker? Understanding and writing are very different processes, and this difference is crucial for a translator. If you find a translator who says he can translate both ways or in more than two languages, always verify with his association if he is certified for those languages.
3. You are protected in the event of a fault.
The purpose of professional corporations is to protect the public. In the event of an important mistake, fault or dissatisfaction, if you hired a certified translator, you can file a complaint to the syndic of the corporation, which may decide to conduct an investigation. If he is found at fault, the member of the corporation may be subject to disciplinary actions. For a translator, being certified is a great accomplishment, but as Spiderman says (!), ‘‘with great power comes great responsibility’’.
4. The certified translator protects the confidentiality of your documents.
Lawyers and doctors are not the only professionals bound by secrecy! In Quebec, the certified translator has to comply with the provincial Professional Code that requires to ensure confidentiality. Even if he outsources parts of a project, he stays responsible for the confidentiality of the information. As far as I’m concerned, all my subcontractors must sign a confidentiality agreement before they start working with me.
5. The certified translator is subject to a professional inspection.
Even if a certified translator is a freelancer and has the chance to work in his pajamas, his practice is monitored! For example, the OTTIAQ has to inspect part of its members every year. After this inspection, the Professional Inspection Committee can require that the translator follows an internship program or professional development courses. This measure ensures that certified translators constantly have the appropriate knowledge and skills to provide high-quality translations.
Convinced, now? If you’d like to request the services of a certified translator, I invite you to look up the OTTIAQ directory where you can find a professional by language, region or areas of work, or simply contact me ;).