> > Certification

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)

If 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.

Good 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

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 logo).

Find out why the EN 15038 or ISO 9001 translation standard ensures you’re buying from a reputable German translation service.

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 operating worldwide.

What does a German translation service with EN 15038 certification offer?

EN 15038 certifies 3 main areas:

  1. Basic requirements for human resources and processes (competence of translators, technology and equipment, quality management system)
  2. The relationship between the client and German translation service provider (quoting, agreements, dealing with client information, etc.)
  3. German translation service procedures (project management, preparation and the translation process itself, including a “second set of eyes”.)

In 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.

Find out why the EN 15038 or ISO 9001 translation standard ensures you’re buying from a reputable German translation service.

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.

Any 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

ISO 9001

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 management systems.

Find out why the EN 15038 or ISO 9001 translation standard ensures you’re buying from a reputable German translation service.

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.

Find out why the EN 15038 or ISO 9001 translation standard ensures you’re buying from a reputable German translation service.

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”.

However, 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 translation service.

Find out why the EN 15038 or ISO 9001 translation standard ensures you’re buying from a reputable German translation service.

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

Final Thoughts...

It’s great if your German translation service is certified. Certification indicates professionalism and the intention to do a good job.

However, certification and translation standards are not a panacea for all the industry’s ills. As I see it, there are 2 major problem areas:

  1. 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 management processes.
  2. 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

> > Certification

Other articles in the buying translation series:

 Translation services


What visitors Say

"Liebe Joanna, ich möchte dir ganz herzlich für die vielen nützlichen Informationen danken. Es ist extrem hilfreich. Vielen, vielen Dank!" 
Silke, Germany

"It's really great to see a website dedicated to the translation of only a single language. There are too many general websites around on the web."
Roshni, India

"Thanks, your website is really helpful to read about advice on getting started as a German translator....very grateful!"
Georgie, UK

"Ich bin auf deine Webseite gestoßen und finde die Seite super. Informativ, lebendiger Schreibstill. Danke für deine inspirierende Seite! Beste Grüße!"
Feng, China

Tell us what you think!

 Translation services


Calling translators...

Want to tell prospective clients about your services with an interview on my website?

Contact me!

Protected by Copyscape Online Copyright Protection