The translation industry is quite diverse in terms of the services it offers. You can choose between machine translation, human translation or hybrid translation services which are a mixture of both. When it comes to the essence of the translation, though, it takes a qualified translator to provide accurate, swift and quality service.

Translation is not simply rendering a text from one language into another. It involves taking into account context, cultural nuances, industry vocabulary, project deadlines and much more. To be able to deal with all these elements, a person needs something more than being bilingual or speaking several foreign languages.

Qualified translators are people who have experience and expertise not only in the linguistic field but also in other areas and industries. Depending on their language combinations and place of work, translators can be certified or accredited in order to perform their job, but this is not a necessary prerequisite of the qualified translator.

What does “qualified translator” mean?

A qualified translator is a person who has versatile knowledge and is able to render a text from one language into another thereby maintaining its tone and style, observing the cultural nuances, and remaining impartial to the content.

A professional translator usually translates into their mother tongue with a few exceptions – in case they speak a very rare language or they are located in a country where translations from your mother tongue into the foreign language are a regular practice. For the USA, though, the norm is to get a translator who will work into their mother tongue.

Most translators have undergone some kind of training or certification or both to be able to do their job. In addition to that, many translators are subject matter experts in certain fields which allows them to translate technical documentation or work in specific industries such as medicine or law.  

A qualified translator can work either on their own as a freelancer or be part of a translation agency. Many qualified translators also work as in-house translators for public and private companies, governmental bodies and healthcare institutions.

Qualified translator vs. certified translator

To be certain that you are working with a qualified translator, you should look for a certified translator. However, it does not mean that only certified translators can be with your project.

The translation market is regulated differently in each country. In the US, there is no federal or state licensing or certification for translators. There are certain credentials that can be awarded to translators working with specific language pairs, which can be given by different bodies such as the American Translators Association (ATA), the Department of Social & Health Services, the Translators and Interpreters Guild.

Translators typically identify themselves with the organization that certified them. For example, they can call themselves ATA-certified or DSHS-certified. Not all certifications, however, cover all language combinations, and hence they are not available for everyone. Therefore, it is not accurate to say that a translator who is not specifically certified by a given body is not qualified to do a great job.  

Note that certified translation means a translation that bears a signed statement, usually at the bottom of the text, attesting to the accuracy and completeness of the translation to the best of the translator’s knowledge. Any translator can sign this statement regardless of whether they are certified or not.

The overall conclusion to take into account is that a certified translator is always a qualified translator but a qualified translator is not necessarily certified.  

How to find a qualified translator? 

One of the best ways to find a qualified translator is by using a referral from a friend or colleague about a professional they have worked with. While this is not always possible, you can also check the online membership directory of ATA, where you can search based on specialization, location, language combination, ATA certification, and other criteria.

Different states and cities also have translators’ organizations which list their members online and you can select from them. 

Choosing a language service provider is one of the reliable options to work with qualified translators and professionals in the field as well. Besides, a translation company can offer a comprehensive process that supports every stage of the translation process and ensures high-quality work from extensive QA, proofreading, enhanced communication with the client, and established best practices.

Top qualities of a good translator

There is a set of factors that make someone a qualified translator who can provide a reliable, accurate and yet quick service, no matter if working as a freelancer or being part of a translation company. Consider the following characteristics of a good translator:

  • Excellent linguistic knowledge of both their mother tongue and the foreign language(s) in which they work
  • Specific industry qualification – most of translators are subject matter experts (SMEs) in a certain industry and usually hold a diploma in a given field. It is essential to select a translator who is familiar with your industry, as this will save you a warehouse of problems 
  • Experience in the field – the longer a translator works in the profession, the better they become, especially when they specialize in a certain industry
  • Knowledge of new translation technologies – machine translation, CAT, translation management system, terminology databases – all of these notions are important parts of the development of the translation industry, and a qualified translator should be aware of them and be able to use them effectively
  • Personalized approach – each client and each translation project are different, and it is not possible to use a one-size-fits-all solution in this industry. A personalized approach, understanding of the specific customer needs, and dedication to achieve the customer’s final goal is what differentiates a good translator from the rest

We can sum up that a qualified translator is a person who has been trained to work with language and has extensive additional knowledge about a specific industry that can benefit them in the job. Experience and additional qualifications are a bonus that ensures a higher quality of the translation service.

Here at ICD Translation, we work only with qualified translators who are subject matters in different fields and have extensive knowledge of the job. You can trust us with your translations regardless of the languages you are targeting.

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