Chartered Institute
of Linguists

Kirsty Low – Success in the CIOL Certificate in Translation


Kirsty Low receives the award for Best Candidate in the CertTrans from HRH Prince Michael of Kent at the CIOL Awards

What made you decide to take the CertTrans?

As a translator still at an early stage in my career – I completed my Master’s degree in translation in 2021 and began working as a full-time freelance translator at the start 2022 – I decided to take the CIOL Certificate in Translation – CertTrans – in order to obtain further proof of my translation skills and attract potential clients

I had heard about the CIOL Diploma in Translation – DipTrans – and how rigorous and respected a qualification it is, and though I had considered whether I should commit to sitting the exams, I felt that I may benefit from a few more years’ experience before potentially tackling them.

So, when I heard about CIOL’s new translation qualification aimed primarily at early-career translators, the CertTrans, last year, I thought that it could be a great stepping stone towards the DipTrans and a valuable qualification in its own right, being an Ofqual-regulated, Level 6 qualification.

How has the CertTrans benefited your career as a translator?

The CertTrans therefore came along at a very nice time for me, and I wanted to give my best effort to try to achieve a good result.

Even so, I was very surprised when I found out I was the highest-scoring candidate. It’s definitely an achievement that I’m proud of and a great confidence boost for me in my everyday working life. This aspect alone has been very valuable, given how tough it can be to initially get established in the translation industry. For that reason, having the confidence to quote the rates that you think your work is worth, as well as the ability to present evidence to back that up, can make a real difference.

How did you prepare for the exam?

I personally did not take any preparatory courses for the CertTrans exams. I did, however, carefully read over the information about the qualification, including the Qualification Specification and Study Guide. On balance, I felt that my everyday work experience would ultimately be the best preparation, as I translate a range of texts in my specialist areas on a day-to-day basis and also receive useful feedback from time to time, which I always do my best to take on board.

I knew that having access to good paper resources during the exams would be important because you obviously cannot use your normal online resources. As I had decided to take the Business and Commercial Translation Skills unit, I acquired a good business dictionary in addition to a more general one and a thesaurus. These proved quite useful. I also took a bit of time before the exams to prepare my own glossary with terminology from various areas of business that I thought could come up. Though very few of the terms in my glossary did, this was useful mental preparation.

Would you recommend taking the CertTrans to others?

I am very happy with my decision to take the CertTrans and would recommend it to anyone looking to acquire some practical evidence of their translation skills. It has given me fresh confidence in exchanges with potential clients and increased motivation to approach new clients in my areas of specialisation.

Kirsty Low won CIOL’s award for Best Candidate in the Certificate in Translation, awarded on 24 March 2023.

Click here to find out more about the Certificate in Translation, including available languages, dates and how to register.


 Views expressed on CIOL Voices are those of the writer and may not represent those of the wider membership or CIOL.