The Diploma in Translation. What is it? Why do I want it?

Today’s guest post is by Lucy Williams and was originally published on her own blog. As it is currently not available on her site, Lucy has kindly given me permission to reproduce two of her posts on the DipTrans on My Words for a Change since they contain valuable information for anyone thinking of taking the exam.

If you are looking for a recognised translation qualification, there are two main options: a master’s in translation or the Diploma in Translation from the Chartered Institute of Linguists. I have chosen to take the Diploma. What is it and what are the advantages of this qualification over a master’s in translation?

What is the DipTrans?

According to the Chartered Institute of Linguists handbook, “the Diploma in Translation (DipTrans) is the gold standard for anyone wanting a career as a freelance translator or to work as a translator for international corporations worldwide and meets the need for a high-level professional translating qualification.” It is an Ofqual-accredited and internationally recognised postgraduate-level qualification. It entitles you to use the title DipTrans IoLET after your name and apply for membership of the Chartered Institute of Linguists. The DipTrans is “intended for working translators and for those who, having reached a high level of linguistic competence, wish to embark on a career in professional translation. It is available to candidates with a level equivalent to a good university degree in one or more modern languages.”

It is not a course in the way that a master’s is, it is simply an exam. There is no teaching component. The CIoL handbook makes this clear, “it must be stressed that candidates, even those holding a degree in languages, generally require additional experience or training.” The exam is held once a year in January and consists of three units:

Unit 01 – Written translation of a general text (about 600 words)

3 hours

Unit 02 – Written translation of a semi-specialised text (about 450 words) in one of the following:

  • Technology
  • Business
  • Literature

2 hours

Unit 03 – Written translation of a semi-specialised text (about 450 words) in one of the following:

  • Science
  • Social science
  • Law

2 hours

Candidates are tested on their ability to “translate from a source language into the mother tongue (target language) to a professional standard and [on] their awareness of the professional activity of translation. Candidates are required to have an appropriate level of writing skills in their target language.” The handbook goes on to explain that the “passages set for translation will be of a standard of difficulty that translators would expect to meet in their daily work.”

a challenging exam, with a pass rate of around only 30-40%

It is a challenging exam, with a pass rate of around only 30-40% and as the exams are only held once a year most candidates opt to take all three papers on one day. As you can see from the details above, this means a total of 7 hours of exams on one day! You have a maximum of five years to pass all papers and if you do not pass all three papers within five years you have to start all over again.

Why do I want it?

For me personally, it is a way of both improving my craft and becoming accredited. It gives me a way to demonstrate that I am a professional translator. I didn’t come to translation via the typical route of a language degree and then a master’s in translation. I’ve found over time that more and more agencies are asking for a recognised qualification in translation. I also feel taking time to study and practise my skills would help me become a better translator. I’ve got plenty of experience now, but I think a recognised qualification and what I learn in the process will help further my career.

the DipTrans has the advantage of being cheaper than a master’s

The DipTrans has the advantage of being cheaper than a master’s, providing you pass the three parts relatively quickly. If you have to repeat papers, then obviously, it becomes more expensive. It has the advantage for me personally of not having to commit to 3 years of studying for a master’s part time (while I work full time). Obviously, this only holds water if I pass at least 2 parts of the exam the first time, otherwise it becomes quite a long-term commitment and more expensive, although with each part that you pass, the workload reduces.

To this end, I am enrolled on not one, but two DipTrans preparation courses. They are both quite different, but I hope they will give me a good insight into both the exam and professional translation.

Click here for more information about the Diploma in Translation and the Chartered Institute of Linguists.

My preparation courses were with Translator’s Studio and Translator Training.

In Lucy’s second guest post, she gives her five top tips for passing the DipTrans. You might also be interested in reading another guest post on this blog by Gwenydd Jones, DipTrans: the real costs and returns.

Lucy Williams is a Spanish to English translator and copywriter who helps businesses in the tourism, leisure and fashion industries share their unique experiences, destinations and products with a wider market by providing them with culturally appropriate and targeted marketing in flawless English.

She also offers translation and proofreading for academic texts and literature.

Lucy passed the Chartered Institute of Linguists’ Diploma in Translation in 2015 and has been working as a freelance translator for eight years.

She can be contacted on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook.

If you would like to write a guest post for My Words for a Change, please read this page and get in touch. You can gain an idea of the topics explored on this blog by looking at the categories page.

1st image by kmicican from Pixabay

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