Just a little test to evaluate your skills. It’s just 250 words, you can do that in a few minutes, right? A lot of translators are asked these questions. Some agencies, usually the ones commonly called bottom feeders, contact translators and they say they have a big project they might be interested in and then ask the translator to and then ask them to send their CV and complete a “small translation test”. Is it ok?
Exploitation is never ok
Unfortunately, most of these cases are just sad examples of exploitation in our industry. And sadly, it is also a very old practice. I remember when I was doing my translation course, my teacher warned us about these types of exploitative proposals. In fact, most of them are not even legitimate translation agencies or clients, they are scammers. They simply divide the document into 250 segments and have several translators doing it, as a test, for free.
Is it ok to charge for test translations?
There’s a lot of debate about this topic and opinions may diverge quite a bit. Some think if it’s less than 150 words can be done free of charge, others believe it should be charged. To be honest, I believe it must be charged. If we are translating and the client is using our time, then they should pay for it.
Not all agencies are like that
This is not the case for all agencies. It is equally sad to see the negativity of some colleagues towards agencies. Usually, these tests are always a sign that something is not right. Good agencies don’t want to be in trouble, so they don’t want to deliver something they may be liable for. So, when they contact translators, they want to know their qualifications, if they are affiliated with an association, they may ask for references from another client and that is fine. This is all part of ascertaining if a person is qualified for a job.
What translators should do
As a translator, I think our main priority is to have great qualifications and excellent work ethics. That is why I recommend my colleagues to get a good qualification and be affiliated with their local Association. This will help them stand out and prove they are skilled. A test won’t do that.
What clients should do
I also understand that clients want the job done professionally and they want the best person for the job. We all do. I think the best option is to look for the local translators association. Check their directory and contact a professional that is affiliated with them. To be admitted, translators must comply with rigorous requirements and in most cases, they also have to pass a test. So, if they passed the Association test, I’m sure they will pass theirs