Professional associations have the vital role of raising the bar in the industry. A few weeks ago, I read a great article from the Chartered institute of Linguists, about its long service to this industry, and about the denigration of language professionals over the years.
Importance of qualifications
I strongly believe that having qualifications is very important. That is, in my opinion, what makes us professionals. We are properly trained to do our job. Just knowing two languages or having a degree in a specialised field is not enough. We need to be trained to be translators or interpreters. Other qualifications are valuable, but as a background.
Most associations provide qualifications that promote professionalism and quality of work. For example, the Chartered Institute of Linguists Diploma in Translation is a qualification of renown worldwide. NAATI has recently introduced its Certification process with more strict exams and requirements. That helps raising the bar in the industry in Australia. AUSIT, responsible for our Code of Ethics has been known for years of continuous work promoting professional development and raising the bar for in industry.
Denegation of language professionals
Unfortunately, in the last decades we have seen a denigration of language professionals. In the article, CIOL points out low prices as one of the main reasons we are perceived as “unqualified” of “less important” workers. I agree, but so does the lack of proper language services qualifications, the lack of worldwide guidelines and representation of translators and interpreters as valuable professionals. Our job is not “just converting a text or speech from one language to another”. Far from it, most times if we were “just converting” the receiver wouldn’t even understand the message, or it would be highly flawed.
The role of associations
That’s why associations have a very important role. They should not only be raising the bar in the industry but also being the voice of its professionals. By promoting our services and the quality of our highly qualified work, they could help clients have a better perception of the job we do. Also, promoting good communication between professionals, where problems could be discussed and solutions proposed. Creating guidelines, not only for new professionals but for the existing ones.
Training, so translators and interpreters are better prepared to price their work, be competitive and negotiate with clients effectively. Most importantly, we all need to value ourselves more and invest in our qualifications and the quality of our work.
Clients must be aware that quality comes with a price and if they want a job done professionally, they have to hire a professional. Associations should have a part in this too. By promoting their qualifications and ensure that companies and Government bodies would only hire professionals. NAATI* has done a great job in that front. In Australia, only NAATI Certified professionals are hired by the Government.
Ultimately, I think it is very important that associations recognise their role. I think this article from CIOL is a great start. Now we all need to work together in order to achieve our goals and raise the bar in the industry.