Is Your German Translation Service Certified?
A good way of judging German translation service quality.
If a translation agency has been certified, then an independent certification body believes it offers a
professional level of service & meets set translation standards.
The Benefits of Certification
Certification benefits both the German translation service and its clients:
- Credibility & trust is a great USP for attracting new clients
- Greater process consistency & efficiency is good for the bottom line
- Proven compliance is increasingly important for public procurement contracts
- Greater customer loyalty & client confidence
- More efficient workflows lead to higher quality results
- Regular monitoring ensures professional standards are maintained
An Industry Standard...
In the translation world, one certification is fast becoming accepted as the industry standard:
EN 15038 – “Translation Services – Service Requirements”.
Other translation-related certifications you’ll come across includes:
- ISO 9001
- CGSB 131.10 (Canada, 2008)
- ASTM F2575-06 (USA, 2006)
your German translation is being provided as part of a range of
services offered by a localization or globalization agency, then these
will be subject to the professional guidelines of the Localization
Industry Standards Association (lisa.org), or the Globalization and
Localization Association (gala-global.org).
Remember: Translation standards cover the work of translation agencies - and not specifically the skills of the translators they employ.
professional translation services will employ freelance translators
with translation-related qualifications such as the UK’s Diploma in Translation or ATA certification, and who are members of professional translation associations.
EN 15038 was developed in 2006 by CEN, the European Committee for
Standardization. All CEN standards are subsequently adopted and
published as national standards by each European country - hence the
variety of logos associated with the EN 15038 (here the blue Austrian
Although some national governments had already introduced translation
standards for their local industry (e.g DIN 2345 in Germany, ÖNORM
D1200 & D1201 in Austria, UNI 10574 in Italy, etc.), EN 15038 is the
first European-wide standard developed specifically to meet the needs of the translation industry.
EN 15038 is the response to the industry’s attempt to introduce greater levels of professionalism. It is a process standard
which means that it certifies the way a translation agency organizes
and monitors the translation process, with project checklists,
procurement processes, etc.
Certification is awarded by
independent certification bodies. One such is LICS , the Language
Industry Certification System, which offers independent, third-party
certification services for the language industry (translation,
documentation, localization...). Hence the red logo, too. Another is
TÜV SÜD America, originally a German certification body but now
What does a German translation service with EN 15038 certification offer?
EN 15038 certifies 3 main areas:
- Basic requirements for human resources and processes (competence of
translators, technology and equipment, quality management system)
- The relationship between the client and German translation service
provider (quoting, agreements, dealing with client information, etc.)
- German translation service procedures (project management, preparation
and the translation process itself, including a “second set of eyes”.)
summary: each translation project should be overseen by a project
manager, be carried out in accordance with the agency’s procedures, and
in line with the agreed project expectations and requirements.
EN 15038 is aimed at providers of translation rather than interpretation
services. However, all agency services are expected to be carried out to a similar level of professionalism.
German translation service with EN 15038 will be subject to regular
audits, so you can be fairly sure that a certified agency will do
everything it can to retain its status.
For more information: www.lics-certification.org or www.tuvamerica.com
Before the advent of EN 15038, many German translation service providers
sought ISO 9001 International Organization for Standardization)
certification which is primarily a measure of internal quality
ISO 9001 covers systems for controlling documentation, records and
products, communicating with customers, audits and meetings to review
performance, etc. However, as ISO 9001 did not address many
translation-specific processes, it failed to become widely adopted by
the translation industry.
For more information: www.iso.org
CGSB 131.10 (Canada, 2008)
Canada has its own translation standard. The Canadian Standard for
Translation Services CAN CGSB 131.10-2008 is a modified version of
Europe’s EN 15038, and developed by the Canadian General Standards Board
specifically for the Canadian translation services industry.
Like EN 15038, it doesn’t apply to interpreting or terminology
services. It specifies the requirements that translation services must
meet when providing translation services. The major requirement is the
documentation of procedures; this helps ensure consistency, both from
job to job, and client to client.
Freelancers can also apply for
CAN CGSB 131.10 certification, and increasingly agencies are requiring
this of their Canadian translators.
For more information: www. ailia.ca
ASTM F2575-06 (USA, 2006)
You may also come across the ASTM F2575-06 “Standard Guide for Quality Assurance in Translation”.
this is not a standard but rather a set of “guidelines”, approved by
the ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials). It is aimed at
all stakeholders in the translation process, and to help new buyers of
language services get a good translation from their chosen German
According to the ATA,
“It explains terminology, the process
of purchasing and producing flawless copy, selecting a translation
service provider, defining project specifications, actual production
(terminology management, translation, editing, formatting, proofreading,
and quality control), and post project review.”
For more information: www.astm.org
It’s great if your German translation service is certified.
Certification indicates professionalism and the intention to do a good
However, certification and translation standards are not a
panacea for all the industry’s ills. As I see it, there are 2 major
- How do you judge the quality of a
translation? Grammar is one thing, but quality assessment metrics can’t
address questions of style. No two reviewers of a translation will make
the same amendments to a translated text. Translation is an art, not a
science, and we need to keep this in mind as we busily regulate our
- Standards says a lot about the
processes of managing translation, but nothing about the treatment of
the translators involved – their pay, conditions, training, etc. Translator forums are full of the “race to the bottom”: translators
increasingly competing on the open market by price alone, thereby
driving down quality and the ability for a professional translator to
make a living at their work. There are increasing moves within the
industry to address this problem, one more prominent one is the Quality
in Translation campaign (qualityintranslation.org).
Top of Page
Other articles in the buying translation series: