Dip Trans worth it?
Thread poster: Alex Varilone

Alex Varilone  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:27
Italian to English
Oct 14

Hi there,

First question in a Proz forum so apologies if it is in the wrong place.

I have just come to the end of an MA in Italian Cultural Studies at UCL. A big chunk of it included Advanced Translation to and from Italian (subtitles and literature mainly). Before this I was working in education (teaching and HE) and the third sector, and my BA is in French and Italian studies.

My question to the experts is: do you think a Dip Trans is worth the cost? I am
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Hi there,

First question in a Proz forum so apologies if it is in the wrong place.

I have just come to the end of an MA in Italian Cultural Studies at UCL. A big chunk of it included Advanced Translation to and from Italian (subtitles and literature mainly). Before this I was working in education (teaching and HE) and the third sector, and my BA is in French and Italian studies.

My question to the experts is: do you think a Dip Trans is worth the cost? I am looking into following a course at Westminster University from Jan 2020 and completing the exams in Jan 2021, but the overall cost of the prep course and exams is going to set me back about £1,500 - £2,000 give or take.

It looks like a good way to help me specialise, which is the main selling point for me so far, but costs big bucks, especially after having just finished an MA. I have worked on and off in translation since 2012 but it has always been a side project and my experience is super varied (legal, NGO content, film reviews, advertisements, academic texts). Eventually, I want it to become my main source of income, and to do that I think I need to focus much more on one or two areas in which to specialise, build a portfolio and then be able to sell myself more.

I'd be interested to hear people's thoughts regarding how helpful they have or haven't found this qualification to be in improving prospects in the world of translation. I wouldn't consider taking the exams without following the course, so either it's both or neither. I am willing to bite the bullet and fork out the money if in the long run it will help.

Thank you,

Alex
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David Hayes  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 21:27
Member (2009)
French to English
In the UK Oct 14

If you intend to work in the UK, it could be worth your time and money. The qualification is well-known there (although, to be honest, you probably have more than enough language credentials with your BA and MA). Outside of the UK, my own experience has been that holding the Dip Trans makes no difference whatsoever to work prospects.

[Edited at 2019-10-14 13:20 GMT]


Jorge Payan
 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:27
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Is it an.urgent priority? Oct 14

Alex Varilone wrote:
do you think a Dip Trans is worth the cost?

It certainly has a good reputation within the industry, although many end clients might be more impressed with Master's qualifications.

I am looking into following a course at Westminster University from Jan 2020 and completing the exams in Jan 2021, but the overall cost of the prep course and exams is going to set me back about £1,500 - £2,000 give or take.

Is it the best time for it? You say you did a lot of translation during your degree. Would it be better to put that learning into practice for a while first? What your CV is really lacking now is experience. Maybe it would be better to invest in some business training (taxation, bookkeeping, negotiating techniques, payment chasing...) and in marketing yourself (website, memberships, software...). If you haven't managed to build up a fairly solid client base by this time next year, that would be the time to consider your options, IMO. The DipTrans should always remain as a possibility but it doesn't sound as though it should be your priority right now.

It looks like a good way to help me specialise, which is the main selling point for me so far

That makes sense, but specialisations can come from many sources. Our clients provide good material for specialisation simply by sending us varied jobs that take us out of our comfort zone.

But this is all just my personal opinion, and as I have neither a Master's degree nor the DipTrans, it may not be worth much .


Kay Denney
Mirelluk
Jorge Payan
 

Alex Varilone  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:27
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks! Oct 14

Thanks so much to both of you.

I will stay in the UK for a while but eventually plan to leave (it's been raining continuously for nearly a fortnight...)

Regarding the Dip Trans as a (non) priority I think you are totally right, Sheila. Great idea to seek training opportunities in marketing and running my own business. I will focus on these aspects first.

Thanks again!


Jorge Payan
 

Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:27
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
Could do worse than the UK Oct 14

Alex Varilone wrote:
Great idea to seek training opportunities in marketing and running my own business.

If you're going to start a business, the UK is a very easy place to begin. My experience since I set up my own in 2013 is that Companies House and other authorities make an effort to streamline the administrative aspects, and put everything they can online. They want to make it easy. I chose the limited company route, but you don't have to, of course.

If you have the option of spending a year or two here in the UK to establish yourself before moving to a country with more onerous legal and regulatory requirements, that might work well.

Regards,
Dan


 

Paul Malone  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 21:27
Member (2004)
French to English
+ ...
Yes, I believe it is. Oct 18

I hold two of them, one from French into English and one from German into English, with the "Technology" and "Science" options in both cases.

In my experience, the Dip Trans qualification is widely recognised internationally, not just in the UK. For example, I live in France and am a member of the SFT, one of the main professional bodies in France for translators and interpreters, which clearly recognises my Dip Trans qualifications and may not have admitted me as a full member with
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I hold two of them, one from French into English and one from German into English, with the "Technology" and "Science" options in both cases.

In my experience, the Dip Trans qualification is widely recognised internationally, not just in the UK. For example, I live in France and am a member of the SFT, one of the main professional bodies in France for translators and interpreters, which clearly recognises my Dip Trans qualifications and may not have admitted me as a full member without them.

I also teach translation to masters' degree students (European Master's in Translation) at ITIRI in Strasbourg, France, on a part-time basis. Teaching had never crossed my mind until the day ITIRI contacted me. They found my details in the SFT database.

I have rarely been short of work since I obtained these qualifications. Indeed, I regularly have to turn work down as I rarely have much spare capacity.

I believe that the Dip Trans qualifications have given me a stronger profile as a professional translator. A master's degree in translation would do the same, I'm sure, so I wouldn't ever discourage anyone from going down that route. In my case, the advantage of the Dip Trans was that I was able to continue working as a translator full time while doing part-time distance learning (online courses) to prepare for the exams. As I was working as a freelance translator at the time, I was entitled to deduct the costs of doing the Dip Trans qualifications from my earnings and pay less tax as a result.

So, in conclusion, in my view, the Dip Trans is a good quality, widely-recognised translation qualification, which is definitely worth the money. Whether you choose to take the Dip Trans route rather than do a masters' degree may well depend on your own personal circumstances. If you are unwilling or unable to take a full-time course, the Dip Trans could well be the best solution for you.

And one final comment; I believe that you are right to want to specialise. It's excellent for new translators to gain experience in translating lots of different text types. But I once heard someone say that the best advice for professional translators is "specialise, specialise, specialise".
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Erik Freitag  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:27
Member (2006)
Dutch to German
+ ...
Maybe later Oct 18

Dear Alex,

Like others, I have experienced that the DipTrans does indeed pack quite a punch, primarily in the UK, but I'm not sure whether this is a direct effect of being able to present the certificate, or of being listed by a professional body. My main reason for sitting the DipTrans was that I had no formal qualification in translation or languages, which made it rather complicated (although not impossible) to join professional bodies like the BDÜ or the CiOL.

Join
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Dear Alex,

Like others, I have experienced that the DipTrans does indeed pack quite a punch, primarily in the UK, but I'm not sure whether this is a direct effect of being able to present the certificate, or of being listed by a professional body. My main reason for sitting the DipTrans was that I had no formal qualification in translation or languages, which made it rather complicated (although not impossible) to join professional bodies like the BDÜ or the CiOL.

Joining the BDÜ and the CiOL has brought a considerable amount of business since then, which I wouldn't have enjoyed without the DipTrans.

You say that you see the DipTrans as a way to specialize. I'm not quite sure that that holds true.

You already have a serious language related qualification, and If I were you, I'd rather spend my time and money in getting some "hands-on" experience in subject fields you'd like to work in as a translator. It's this kind of knowledge and experience that you, in all probability, won't have gathered during your language studies, and with which you may be able to stand out from the crowd.

You can continue working as a translator at the same time. If at a later point in time you still feel you want to sit the DipTrans, you can always do that (and I can only recommended it, generally speaking). With the experience you'll have gathered in the meantime, you might even be able to forego prep courses. That's what I did, but only after almost a decade in the trade.

HTH,
Erik
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