Freelance translators: What is accreditation and why is it important?

Ester Eckhaus
Ester Eckhaus
August 22, 2017

 Featured image by  João Silas


As a freelance translator, there are times when business decisions come along, and you have to weigh your options to make the most of your work. Should I build a website? Should I take on this new client? Is this route worth the effort? Since you are your own boss, and you have the final say in your freelance business, these are the questions you need to ask yourself whenever you are faced with a new opportunity or decision. In this article we’d like to deal with the question: Should I get accreditation as a freelance translator?

Whether you’ve thought of getting accreditation or have never heard about it before, the opportunity is definitely worth weighing, and may have a big impact on your future career. Let’s have a look at why this is.

What is accreditation?

Accreditation, in any profession, is a standard of certification that qualifies you to work within your specific field. Though it is required for doctors, lawyers, and the like to pass their exams in order to practice, many professionals have often been without any formal accreditation. As far as translating goes, many organizations and associations have been working to establish these programs.

Being an accredited professional in your field can make things simpler for both you and your clients. An accreditation exam sets the standards of any given field, and sizes up your experience and skills, in order for your clients to have assurance in the quality and legitimacy of your work.

Why is accreditation important for freelance translators?

Freelancers can easily work without accreditation; many clients will never require it or even know that it’s something they should ask about. Unlike notary work, where you’re required to have a license in order to certify translations, most freelance translation jobs don’t require this. So, why is accreditation important for freelance translators?

1. With an accreditation in hand, translators and interpreters can efficiently and easily show clients their level of expertise, in a way that everyone can understand. No more sample tests, lengthy interviews, or long lists of previous experiences; your certification will assure that your skills are up to par.

2. Having accreditation will set you apart from the inexperienced translators who may not have the knowledge and skills fit for the job. When you become accredited, you are stating that you take your work seriously, and are willing to go the extra mile to show your clients that you are the real thing.

3. If you are a translator with a unique language pairing, such as Japanese to French for example, chances are you won’t have a problem finding your clients; but a Spanish to English translator may run into more issues, as it is a more common pairing, and there are many other translators out there for clients to choose from. So, if you’re a Spanish to English translator, having accreditation will give you a step up in the field. Much as a college graduate will have more luck landing a job than a high school graduate, being a certified translator can help you when you are up against competition in a popular field.

4. Being an accredited translator will open up the doors to clients and positions that may require an accredited professional. It seems that there will soon be many more employers expecting accreditation from their freelancers. As it becomes more standardized, you may find that many employers will only accept accredited professionals in order to ensure the best work possible.

Does accreditation = more money?

Let’s talk money. First and foremost, regardless of your reasons for becoming a freelancer, all freelancers work for payment. The flexibility of the field allows for varied salaries, but in order to make it worthwhile, you need clients who will pay you a salary worth the time and effort you put into the job. By having the public recognition that you meet the qualifications, you will likely have more success finding the clients that want great work, and are willing to pay a higher price tag for it.

As a freelancer, it can be hard to know how to set your rates. Especially when first starting out, you may be unsure of where your skills lay on the bar, and how to charge clients accordingly. You may be afraid to aim too high, but you definitely don’t want to settle for less than your expertise level deserves. Accreditation can help you get a better idea of where your skills are in the spectrum of your field; and you can give clients a higher rate, with the confidence that you know what your skills are worth.

Where should you start?

Below are some resources to start you off, but we advise doing a bit of your own research and finding the right route for you and your freelance business.

You can start by looking into the Australian National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters and the American Translators Association, as they can provide more information on the accreditation process. Their accreditation processes are globally recognized and valued. Visit their websites to get helpful details and links on beginning the certification process, or just peruse the available information while you continue to weigh your options. No matter what you choose, a well thought out plan for your freelance business can pave the way towards years of success for you and your career.

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