A great way to kick-start your career as a freelance translator or interpreter is to join a professional association. These provide a wealth of invaluable information, such as articles on a range of industry-related topics and terminology resources, as well as enabling you to network with other professionals, search for jobs and get yourself “on the radar” of translation agencies, companies and other potential clients. Some of these associations are specific to translators, some to interpreters and some to interpreters in a particular field, whereas others are more general.
To join, you are normally required to prove your credentials as a qualified translator and agree to adhere to certain professional guidelines. This demonstrates to clients that you take pride in the high standard of your work.
Benefits for members tend to include free listing in a directory of professionals; free or discounted subscription to the association’s publications; free legal and business advice; and discounted rates for professional indemnity insurance, continuing Professional Development (CPD) activities, CAT tools etc.
This article focuses mainly on associations based in the UK, but also provides links to those based in Spain, France, Italy and Germany. Information on associations based in your particular country is easy to find through a quick Google search.
ProZ (www.proz.com) is a website aimed at translators, interpreters and clients. It has 5 main sections: terminology (including dictionaries, glossaries, a term search function and a discussion forum); jobs and directories (including a directory of translation agencies and companies, a directory of translators and interpreters, a list of jobs to bid on and translators’ feedback about outsourcers); member activities (including news, videos, forums, translation contests, in-person and virtual conferences and a mentoring programme); education (including articles, industry reports and training opportunities); and tools (including a unit conversion tool, a rates calculator, a tool for creating invoices and information on the most common CAT tools).
Although you can browse some areas of the website without signing up, some features are restricted to those with a free account, some to paying members and some to members of the Certified PRO Network. Membership costs €82 for six months or €125 for a year. Members can then apply (at no additional cost) to become a Certified PRO, which entitles them to use a special title and seal next to their name. This status is granted to professional translators who have proven translation ability, business reliability and good citizenship, based on industry credentials, peer and client reviews, sample translations etc. The criteria are based on EN15038.
Associations based in the UK
Chartered Institute of Linguists (IoL)
The IoL (www.iol.org.uk) is a UK-based association for professional linguists. Membership is available at one of 4 different grades: Registered Student, Associate (ACIL), Member (MCIL) or Fellow (FCIL). The IoL also offer the Diploma in Translation (DipTrans), which is a postgraduate-level qualification, and the Diploma in Public Service Interpreting (DPSI), which is at degree level. The requirements and yearly subscription fees for the 4 membership grades are:
– Registered Student: This category is open to anyone aged 16 or over who is studying a language to at least A-level or equivalent. The subscription fee is £49.
– Associate: This category is open to anyone aged 18 or over with a degree or equivalent in modern languages who uses foreign language skills in their job, or expects to in the future. Applicants must also name two referees. The subscription fee is £105.
– Member: This category is open to anyone aged 21 or over with either: a) an honours degree or equivalent (a 2:2 or above) and at least three years’ full-time (or equivalent part-time) professional experience; or b) a post-graduate qualification and at least one year’s full-time (or equivalent part-time) professional experience. Applicants must also name two referees, one of whom must be a professional linguist. The subscription fee is £120.
– Fellow: Anyone aged 25 or over who has been a Member for at least three years can apply for a Fellowship, although direct entry is possible for linguists who have attained a position of distinction in the professional use of languages. The subscription fee is £145.
Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI)
The ITI (www.iti.org.uk) is the only professional association in the UK dedicated solely to translators and interpreters. Membership is available at one of 4 different grades: Student, Associate, Qualified Member (MITI) or Fellow (FITI). The requirements and yearly subscription fees for the 4 membership grades are:
– Student: This category is open to anyone registered on a degree-level or post-graduate course in translation or interpreting. The subscription fee is £44.
– Associate: This category is open to anyone not yet eligible for qualified membership. The only requirements are 1 professional and 1 character reference, although recent graduates can submit a reference from their university tutor in place of the professional reference. The subscription fee is £85. There is also a £60 application fee.
– Qualified Member: The requirements are: a) a degree or equivalent; b) at least 3 years’ professional experience; c) at least 2 professional references for each language pair; d) a character reference; and e) a pass in the ITI Membership exam. The subscription fee is £222 and the examination fee is £210 for each language pair. Those upgrading from Associate do not have to pay an application fee.
– Fellow: This category is open to Qualified Members with at least 10 years’ professional experience.
Association of Police and Court Interpreters (APCI)
The APCI (www.apciinterpreters.org.uk) is a UK-based professional association for qualified and experienced interpreters working within the criminal justice system. The main requirements are: a) a degree or postgraduate qualification in a relevant subject; b) two references; c) three years’ experience as an interpreter in the criminal justice system; d) four hundred hours of work and 100 assignments for the police and courts; and e) an interview. The annual subscription fee is £100.
Associations based in Spain
Asociación Española de Traductores, Correctores e Intérpretes (Asetrad – Spanish Association of Translators, Proofreaders and Interpreters): www.asetrad.org
Associations based in France
–Société Française des Traducteurs (SFT – French Society of Translators): www.sft.fr/bienvenue.html
–Association Française des Interprètes de Conférence Indépendants (AFICI – French Association of Freelance Conference Interpreters): www.afici.fr
Associations based in Italy
Associazione Italiana Traduttori e Interpreti (AITI – Italian Association of Translators and Interpreters): www.aiti.org
Associations based in Germany
Federal Association of Interpreters and Translators (BDÜ): www.bdue.de/indexen.php