MA Translation or DipTrans: which to choose?

By Jennifer Lee
In Translation
Mar 6th, 2017

One of the best ways to gain clients and improve your skills as a translator is to obtain more qualifications in the translation field. The two biggies nowadays are either a Master’s Degree in Translation from a university or a Diploma in Translation from the Chartered Institute of Linguists (CIOL). But which one is considered to be more impressive, thorough and will move your further forward in your career?

Advantages of MA

An MA in Translation shows employers that you are serious about a career in translation and will teach you the basic processes, skills and theory of translation. It also usually covers a wide range of modules including the business of translation, CAT tools, specialised translation and translating in different fields. If you’re not sure what you want to specialise in yet, or are brand new to translation, this will give you a great start to your career and show employers that you have an extensive knowledge of the translation industry and know how to translate a broad range of texts.

Disadvantages of MA

Although an MA in Translation will certainly give you an edge in a competitive market, it isn’t as highly regarded as a DipTrans. Usually, after translators have completed an MA, they will work full time as a translator for a couple of years and THEN attempt the DipTrans. It is also very expensive, depending on where you decide to study and could mean you’ll have to take out a loan or spend some of your precious savings. Furthermore, be very careful which course you choose and make sure you do your research. Some courses actually shy away from practical translating and are more theory-focused, so could end up not actually helping your career at all.

Advantages of DipTrans

The biggest advantage of gaining a DipTrans qualification is the large step forward it will give you in your career as a translator. It consists of three exam papers. Paper one: general translation, paper two: semi-specialised translation in technology/business/literature, paper three: semi-specialised translation in science/social science/law. This will show employers that you are capable of translating specialised, complicated texts and are prepared to handle difficult projects. It is also an internationally recognised qualification and so will appeal to employers from all over the world. Once you have achieved this qualification, you also get to use the title ‘DipTrans IoLET’ after your name, which, you have to admit, is pretty bad ass.

Disadvantages of DipTrans

First of all, you can only take the exam once a year. So, if you happen to fail your first time, you have to wait a whole year until you can retake it! Ouch. Also, it may go without saying, the DipTrans exam is extremely difficult and will require a lot of studying and knowledge. It is also quite pricey and for the three exams, plus centre fee you’re looking at around £650. Also, if you fail a paper first time, you have to pay to resit it. It’s a big investment, but ultimately worth it in the long run.



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About "" Has 7 Posts

Jennifer is a freelance translator from Belfast, Northern Ireland. She studied a joint degree of French and Spanish at the University of Glasgow, through which she had opportunities to live in both France and Argentina. Her passions are literature, human rights issues and of course, language learning! She has a tortoise named Bob and a husband named Neil. Read more about her on Linkedin:

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