Translator Associations – Why They Are Important

By Grischa Wenzeler

29 Jun, 2023

Translator Associations – Why They Are Important

Life as a freelance translator can be challenging. If not well-connected to colleagues and a professional support network, it can be a lonely profession. On the other hand, clients, both translation agencies and direct clients, may have problems finding the right translator for their respective projects. Being a member of a professional body is a useful means to address these issues. When I started out as a translator over a decade ago, I felt it was important to learn the art of translating professionally by studying at City, University of London. My courses were oriented at passing the Diploma in Translation (DipTrans), a level 7 academic certificate offered by the Chartered Institute of Linguists (CIOL).

The CIOL is one of the two main translator organisations in the UK, the other one being the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI). The objective of the exam is to assess the candidate’s ability to deliver translations that meet professional standards. Once I passed the diploma in 2014, I immediately joined the CIOL as a full member and, a few years later, became a Chartered Linguist, a specific seal of a translator’s experience.

What are the advantages of being a CIOL member?

What are the advantages of being a CIOL member? First of all, obtaining the DipTrans and, thus, opening the door to becoming a member of the CIOL, is an important recognition of the translator’s professional abilities. This is reassuring for clients when looking for someone who can deliver a translation job of the highest quality. Secondly, the CIOL website, through its function ‘Find A Linguist’, makes it easy for clients to find translators with specific skills for a particular project, depending on the translator’s fields of specialisation. Thirdly, the CIOL offers a vast range of seminars for translators to continue their professional development and keep their skills current. Last but not least, the organisation offers support for its members through networking, tutoring newcomers, annual conferences, and other benefits.

The CIOL is a British translator organisation, i.e. it covers my main source language, English. 

However, given that translators usually translate into their mother tongue, in my case German, it’s at least as important to join a professional translation body covering the relevant target language. I joined the most important German translator organisation, BDÜ, over five years ago with my regional association being based in Berlin, my second residency. The BDÜ organises a large spectrum of virtual and presence seminars, and members meet regularly at symposia covering expert fields such as legal, medical, and technical translations. Like the CIOL, the BDÜ makes it easy for clients to find the right linguist for their projects, thus, connecting supply and demand efficiently. Hence, my marketing is focused on keeping my professional profiles in the CIOL and BDÜ database up-to-date.
I am grateful for the many contacts, insights, and development opportunities the CIOL and BDÜ have offered me over the years, and my clients appreciate the high quality level the membership in these organisations helps certify.

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