Finding good translators

By Kevin Lossner
Partly reblogged from Translation Tribulations with permission from the author

Finding good translatorsOver the past decade I’ve spent many hundreds of hours helping clients and colleagues find suitable translators to collaborate on their projects, mostly involving German and English, but occasionally venturing into other languages such as French, Spanish, Russian, Chinese or even Vietnamese and Sinhalese. Unfortunately, it can be said that “many are called [translators], but few… [should be] chosen.” For various reasons.

Many clever translation buyers (translation agencies, corporations great and small, law offices, and individuals) know the open secret to finding a better class of translator: professional association directories. Sure, you can find rotten eggs in those nests too, but on the whole, these are far more serious professionals, most of whom actually make a living as translators and perform to standards that will enable to keep them doing so as long as they like. Not the desperate unemployed, the frustrated actors or journalists who can’t get enough work to pay the rent, starving studentZ or bored house hubbies.

Where do you find contact lists for these professionals to find the “right” one with the special knowledge you need? Here. I’ll keep a running list of professional organizations around the world and links to their online directories. I know only a few myself, because my interests are limited to a few languages and countries; some of these have been kindly provided to me by international professional colleagues who know the organizations intimately and are in some cases involved with running some part of them. If you are looking for competent people, certified or otherwise, these are very good places to start your quest. It is more likely to have a happy end or a happy working relationship for the years ahead.

Note that while I list these organizations by country, most or all have international members and language combinations that go beyond those one might expect from that country, so even if you are in Mexico, it might pay to browse a French directory for a Russian to Italian translator🙂

Australia
AUSIThome pageonline directory search
NAATIhome pageonline directory search
WAITIhome pageonline search directory

Austria
Universitashome pageonline directory search (in German)

Canada
CTTIChome page
Here there are links to the regional organizations and their directories (print or online). It’s a bit fragmented; the group in British Columbia, for example, has separate directories for “certified” and associate members. Too bad they can’t offer a nationwide directory in this modern age, but as they say, “seek and ye shall find”, and the findings are surely better than what one would typically turn up at a commercial portal without standards.

Finland
SKTL home pageonline directory search

France
SFThome pageonline directory search

Germany
BDÜhome page (in English here). National scope. The site’s programming is primitive (still uses HTML frames!!!), so the directory will have to be accessed from the home page. You can’t miss it though: a link with a big magnifying glass at the top of the page and large, bold words that say “search online for interpreters and translators“. The cream of the German crop will usually be found here.
ADÜ Nordhome page (in German). More focused on the northern region. The online search form for translators is on the home page, impossible to miss. There are great language service providers to be found here.
VÜDhome page (in German) with an integrated search form for translators and interpreters at the top

Ireland
ITIAhome pageonline search form

Italy
AITIhome pageonline directory search

Netherlands
NGTV
home pageonline directory
Bureau Wbtvhome pageonline register search for sworn and certified translators (in English)

New Zealand
NZSTIhome page with a search box at the top 

Spain
Asetradhome pageonline search with specialties (in English)
MET – home pageonline search (this organization includes language specialists for all aspects of English)
APTIC – home pageonline search – the English pages for the association of translators working with Catalan

Sweden
SFÖhome page with online search form by language combination & subject (in English)
Kammarkollegiet (authorized translators) – info pageonline directory search (in English)

Switzerland
ASTTIhome pageonline directory (the links here are to German pages, but the site is available in Italian and French as well)

United Kingdom
ITIhome page
IoLhome pageonline directory

USA
ATAhome pageonline directory search

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8 thoughts on “Finding good translators

  1. Dear Mr. Lossner,
    I am afraid more research should be done because this list is not complete.
    Where do you include Latín American countries, Argentina for example, which has a Federación Argentina de Traductores?
    Kind regards
    P. H.

    • Hi Perla and William,

      Thank you for your comments. The Savvy Newcomer team acknowledges that this list is not complete; we have reblogged this post by Kevin Lossner and I believe his intent was to provide a sampling of the different associations that are available, not to offer an exhaustive list.

      If you have a specific association in mind and would like to request that he add it to his list, I encourage you to reach out to him at his site, where this post was originally published: http://www.translationtribulations.com/2012/01/finding-good-translators.html

      Thank you and best regards,

      Jamie Hartz
      Moderator, The Savvy Newcomer blog

  2. I wish to enrol myself as a Japanese translator for a Japanese Translation company. Could you please include Japanese agaencies as well?

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  4. In response to ” Not the desperate unemployed, the frustrated actors or journalists who can’t get enough work to pay the rent, starving studentZ or bored house hubbies.”

    How would you classify a person who, after a couple of decades in one profession in a foreign country, decided to make some changes and start with something new? I recently joined the ATA and am happy to be listed in their directory. Without certification, or several more years of experience, I have little to no chance of getting onto my country’s best directories right now. What does one do in the meantime, if not align oneself with the “starving stundenZ” et al.?

    • Hi Marcellina,

      Thanks for your question. This article a reblog was originally posted by Kevin Lossner on TranslationTribulations.com, but I have a few thoughts in response to your question that I will share here.

      First off, I think that by joining ATA, listing yourself in their directory, and following The Savvy Newcomer, you’ve already begun to position yourself as a professional (as opposed to one of the casual amateurs Kevin lists who only picks up work when they feel like it). In line with this, I would encourage you to continue taking any steps you can to develop yourself as a professional translator and/or interpreter. This may involve creating a website that will help advertise your services, attending conferences in the field (whether ATA or other associations), honing your skills, sending your resume to potential clients, finding an internship or mentor program where you can learn more tricks of the trade, etc. You’ve classified yourself as a professional by making the move to switch careers; now it’s time to develop your skills and professional profile in order to take the leap and become someone that those best directories in your country would be proud to list.

      I hope this helps!

      Best,

      Jamie Hartz
      jamie@tildelanguage.com
      The Savvy Newcomer Blog

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