I recalled sometime around early 2011, I found myself professionally stuck. I hated my job. There were full of never-ending numbers to work on, corporate people who wears many ‘masks’ talking behind your back, same boring routine day-in-day-out in the office, politics, favouritism, fake small talks and some other bunch of craps. Forget about job satisfaction too, I just couldn’t feel any. I would’ve been very thankful enough to my lucky star as my no-nonsense attitude didn’t land me into a hot boil soup with the management, on the weekly basis that is.
Steve Jobs, the man who shaped the future once said, “The only path to a job satisfaction is by doing a great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.” Dang! I signed up for 10 weeks long of translation courses from the National Institute of Malaysia for a certificate level. Since then, I’ve never looked back.
I understand that there are many professional translators out there who have not undergone any certification and yet, they manage to survive. Here’s a question for you. Can a medical doctor, an engineer or a lawyer practice their profession without being certified? Some may say, “Of course, but these are real professional fields. If the practitioners screw up, it could cost them a person’s life!” In this case, what makes you think that translation error will not cost people’s lives? Well, translation is a specialised field meant for language professionals. It may not directly affect people’s lives but it will affect their careers should serious mistakes are done. Period. Now let’s take a look at three reasons why you should invest in at least one certification;
To really identify your forte (and verticals you need to let go). Before taking up the translation courses, I thought that translating books is the way to go as I seriously think at that time that fiction was extremely cool and entertaining. I mean, everybody loves stories and subtitling work was fun. I was positive that there is no difference between medical and general health either, just like pharmaceutical and nutrition subjects. And legal text can be translated in a straight-forward manner too literally.
It was only towards the end of the course and upon the receipt of exam result that I realised that all my theories weren’t making any sense at all. I then starting to realise that I personally prefer to do documents translation over books, I need to stay away from subtitling works, instead focus more on technical texts, and I must stay away from legal and science-related fields too, and let the right translators with such backgrounds to cover them.
You may like an area that you suck at, and you may shine at areas which you dislike them completely. In short, you will not know where your strengths are until you are tested them all.
To become a real-deal professional in the global market. You see, certifications in translation aren’t a game changer. Certifications aren’t going to get your name in front of the future paid clients. Certifications alone aren’t going secure you a deal with prospects. In short, a certification does not equal automatic success as a translator.
But professional translators usually work for clients from respectable and developed countries. International agencies within these countries treat language certifications as a mandatory for them to give out tasks compared with freelancer translators. To them, it’s okay if you don’t have a necessary bachelor degree in translation, however, some sorts of language-related certification is a must. When you become a certified translator, it’s like you’re firmly stating that you are taking your work very seriously, willing to go the extra mile in your professional career to showcase that you are a real-deal here. With certifications in hand, you can easily differentiate your value from the rest too. No more sample tests, lengthy interviews, or long lists of previous experiences questions too. Your certification will assure that your skills are beyond than just average.
To make easy money. Frankly speaking, becoming a certified translator is not my intention. I’ve declined this idea since forever as I possess no interest in dealing with personal documents, individual clients and government agencies whom I need to display my certifications to. But when there was a request that came from a close friend of mine, asking me to give it a shot, I then decided to give it a try. I told myself, hey how hard can it be?
To my surprise, the translation stunt did not take much of my time, people from the Malaysian Translators Association (MTA) were very supportive and fast, the client was friendly and the best part is, I made a fast cash easily. Long story short, I made MYR2,000 by translating 10 certificates in a week, and this task took me approximately only 5 hours. Thanks to the certifications, you simply can’t make the same amount of money as quick as that by doing something else. No way.
On a serious note, certifications are really an investment that you shouldn’t ignore. It will pay for itself many times over, trust me. For instance, certificate of MTA membership will only cost you MYR300. But when you’re done with it and become a certified translator, you can easily make it back by charging clients in thousands of Ringgit within the same year itself. Your ROI right there will definitely make you smile wider than wide.