This year, I decided to finally get around to applying for ITI membership, after printing off the application forms on what had become almost annual ritual and never getting around to filling them in. When trawling the web looking for information on the entry procedure, I found myself reading other people’s blogs of their experiences, and I thought it might be useful to do the same for anyone thinking of becoming a MITI, getting ISO17100:2015 certified or joining the CIOL.
The road to ITI Qualified Member status
I first applied to join the ITI at the end of May, completing the application form, providing names of two clients who could be contacted to provide evidence of at least three years’ professional translation work, copies of university certificates, listing my specialist translation areas and paying a £60 application fee. I was then contacted two weeks later to say the application was in order and I could choose from a number of dates for my translation assessment. I was given a choice of 18 dates over the next four months, all either Tuesdays or Fridays depending on whether it suited me to complete the four-day assessment over the weekend or during the week. The assessment fee to be paid at this point (regardless of whether I would eventually pass or fail) was £389.
I confirmed a Tuesday-Friday slot at the start of September, after the summer break. I received an email explaining that I would be sent the translation assignment by 10am on the Tuesday morning. The subject matter would be one of the specialist areas I had listed on my application form, in my case, international affairs and NGOs, and I was to email it back by 4.30pm on the Friday afternoon.
The procedure went smoothly and on 3 September, I received an email with the translation assignment. I was told I could request an alternative text if, after reading it, I felt I would be “unable to complete it to the required standard”, but a quick read-through confirmed I was comfortable with the subject matter. The translation is completed in your usual working environment and you have access to all your usual tools and resources, including the internet and personal glossaries, which in my opinion makes for a much more realistic test of a professional translator’s ability than simply how many words you can remember or how fast you can look up words in a dictionary.
Although I can’t go into detail about the translation itself (you have to destroy all copies of the text after submission), I can say that it was a surprisingly challenging text that posed a number of real translation issues, despite the fact that it was on a subject with which I was familiar. It was approximately 1,000 words long and included specialised vocabulary, direct quotations that had to be sourced and checked, complex turns of phrase and references to fairly technical procedures in the field. I completed it well within the three-day period, leaving lots of time to review it with fresh eyes.
The translation had to be accompanied by a 500-1,000 commentary, explaining translation choices, the target audience, references used, and any other issues I felt the reviewers might need to assess my translation. I’d prepared similar commentaries as part of my PG Cert at the University of Portsmouth, but the restriction on the number of words meant I had to make some difficult choices as to what to include. Both documents had to meet specific formatting requirements set out in the guidance documents.
I submitted the translation, the commentary and a signed declaration in good time on the Friday by email and received a receipt by return mail indicating that, all going well, the results should be available within 6-8 weeks.
Again, everything went to schedule and on 10 October, although I was confident in the quality of my work and had no reason to think I might fail, I was delighted to receive notification by email that I had passed the exam and was now eligible for qualified membership!
A brief “score card” from the assessors was attached to the email, which awarded points for various aspects of the translation, but contained nothing specific to actual parts or wording of my translation. There is an option to pay for more detailed information on the scoring procedure, which I would have liked, but given that I had passed (with a performance grade of “good”), I didn’t feel this was necessary.
I then had to pay the pro rata membership fee for the remainder of the year (membership runs from 1 May to 30 April each year), which amounted to just over £170.
Later that week I was pleased to receive my Membership Pack by post, which consisted of a Membership Certificate, various details about using the ITI logo, ITI seals for certified translations, an ITI pin and the latest edition of the ITI bulletin.
Fast forward a month and I’m still finding my way around all the ITI resources, from the online CPD records, to the various fora and social media accounts. I was pleased to see my name in print in the new members section of the latest edition of the bulletin that I received today and took great pleasure in redesigning my email signature around this latest development in my career!
ISO 17100:2015 certification The nature of the procedures for becoming a Qualified ITI member mean that I was automatically eligible for ISO 17100:2015 status. This is an ISO for translation services that guarantees a level of quality control and delivery for clients. The process includes translation, revision by a second person, review, proofreading and final verification. I decided this might be a reassuring stamp of quality for new clients, and soon received my ISO certified logo (for an additional payment of £39) and added it to my email signature!
CIOL Membership Because it is not a certified category of membership, the procedure to become a Member of the Chartered Institute of Linguists was less challenging involving simply completing an application form, providing copies of certifications, and two professional references. The membership assessment fee was £25. Within a month, I received confirmation that my application had been successful and was requested to pay £139 for the remainder of the membership year, to August 2020. I might one day apply for Chartered status but frankly the appeal of an additional letter after my name isn’t quite enough to make me want to go through the process of sitting an exam in a remote city with a suitcase full of paper! Not at the moment, anyway …
So, all in all, October was a month of forms, stamps, certifications, approvals and a fair few bank transfers. We’ll see what the future holds in terms of how professionally useful investment in membership of the two leading UK translation bodies will be, but I look forward to playing an active part in both organisations!