Chartered Institute
of Linguists

Benefits of being a “professional, qualified and chartered linguist”

By Ali Yildirim

There is a popular argument over the question of whether human translators are being replaced with machines in today’s highly evolving and automated translation industry. Although machine translation and AI technologies have come a long way, there will always be need for human translators, especially in a very specialised industry like ours. Since the beginning of the last millennium, so many websites have been popping up, all claiming to offer fantastic quality services at rock bottom prices; it’s too good to be true, isn’t it? When you look at those websites, all those rock bottom prices are often offered by unqualified people who can somehow afford to work for those prices. On the other hand, when you commission a qualified professional with substantial experience to carry out a certain task, it’s often a very different story. Every professional translator makes a living by translating and they must therefore reflect the cost of living, professional development and other related costs in the rates they offer. Most qualified translators would have at least studied a degree or obtained an MA in translation studies and become a member of at least one professional institution, unlike unqualified translators.

I obtained my full DipTrans qualification in 2012, after taking my first modules in 2010. Although it feels like the distant past now, I can still vividly remember how I went through the process of obtaining my qualification. It was a written exam with a real pen and paper and only hard copy dictionaries were allowed. I therefore bought lots of these from Turkey, and a huge suitcase with which to transport them to the exam centre. I remember my wrists hurting, as I was not used to writing with a pen that much anymore. I was disappointed with the first results, as I failed the “general” and “social sciences” modules of the exam but got a “distinction” in the “law” option. At least it was not all bad. I was frustrated though, because I remember the text to translate in the “general” module was one of David Mitchell’s columns in the Observer. If you have ever read any of his articles, you will know how relatively complex his language is. I decided to appeal the result as I had an instinct that I should have at least deserved a pass, given how complicated the chosen piece was. My instinct was justified as I was given a “pass” result following my first and only appeal. I did not have to pursue it any further or re-sit that part of the exam. In 2012, I sat the exam again for one of the semi-specialised sections and I chose the “technology” module and passed it with “a merit”. My Diploma in Translation was complete. I was now a member of the Chartered Institute of Linguists.

This qualification not only helped me gain the professional recognition that I needed in order to further my career, but also led to possibilities of working with more prosperous clients who only sought translators with suitable qualifications.

Having designatory letters added after my name and being included in the translator directory were other added benefits of obtaining a DipTrans. Shortly after being added to the directory, I started receiving my first queries for prospective jobs. I would recommend any translator to add a DipTrans to their qualifications for the ultimate professional recognition.

Shortly after becoming a member, I was listed in the Find-a-Linguist directory for my qualified language pair (English-Turkish). Over the years. I have had numerous inquiries about jobs of varying sizes, including quite a large project a couple of years ago. Being listed in the directory gives me the online exposure that I need as a freelancer and provides access to potential clients who might be interested in my services. I was also designated Chartered Linguist (Translator) status in 2019. The Chartered Linguist status allows me to benefit from enhanced professional recognition.

The enhanced professional recognition that qualified and chartered membership gives me also allows me to certify the translation of documents for official matters. At the same time, it reassures my clients regarding my professional credentials and distinguishes me from unqualified translators.

As a professional translator, keeping up with Continued Professional Development (CPD) is very important. Various other benefits of being a qualified member of CIOL, such as subscription to The Linguist, included in the membership fee, free webinars, and events and conferences organised by CIOL offer other great opportunities for CPD.

For me the best added values of qualified membership to the CIOL are the opportunities for CPD offered through a free library of webinars, and the networking opportunities. As you would surely agree, networking is crucial for any professional freelancer. I prefer face to face events to online ones. However, current circumstances mean that most events will continue to be held online for the foreseeable future. Also, living outside of London means that I have to commute to most events, and it is not always possible to do so. The first official event by CIOL that I attended in person was Members’ Day 2019, where I listened to so many interesting talks, enjoyed socialising and networking with many colleagues. I met some of the same colleagues at the first CIOL Conference in 2020, and this was an opportunity to build on our professional relationships and friendships. I have truly enjoyed the benefits of being a qualified member of CIOL for the last 8 years, and I feel that the membership team and the organisation as a whole have been constantly trying hard to make this experience even more valuable for every member!