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What is ISO 17100 and what does it mean for translation clients?

24 July 2019 - by Helene Walters-Steinberg

ISO 17100:2015 is the internationally recognised standard for translation from the International Organisation for Standardisation. It was created in 2015 to replace quality standard EN 15038, which ensured the consistent quality of translation services.  Unlike EN 15038, ISO 17100 sets minimum standards and qualifications for translation professionals and defines specific translation steps to be followed in order to achieve quality.

It is worth noting that this standard does not apply to interpreters.

What does a translator need to prove in order to be ISO 17100:2015 Qualified?

The requirements for ISO 17100:2015 are divided in three parts:

-          Qualifications and Experience: translators must have:

o    “a certificate of competence in translation awarded by an appropriate government body”

o   OR a graduate degree in another field and the equivalent of 2 years full-time professional translation experience

o   OR five years of full-time professional experience in translating.

-          Continuing Professional Development (CPD): translators must record the courses, reading and research they undertake each year to maintain their skills. While the ISO standard doesn’t set a minimum requirement, many professional translators’ organisations do (e.g. the Institute of Translation and Interpreting recommends that all its members undertake 30 hours of CPD in each membership year).

-          Competency:

o    Translation: the ability to translate texts, including addressing source and target language problems

o   Linguistic and textual skills in the source and target languages

o   Research, information acquisition and processing skills

o   Knowledge of the source and target cultures

o   Knowledge of the source text domain

What is the translation process set out by ISO 17100:2015?

1-      Translation and check by the translator

2-      Revision by a second linguist ­(also known as bilingual editing)

3-      Review (an optional step designed in order to assess the suitability of the translation against the agreed purpose and domain)

4-      Proofreading (an optional final check before printing)

What does it mean for you if a translator (or translation company) says they are ISO 17100:2015 Qualified?

First of all, it is proof of quality. You can be confident that they are working to a recognised international standard. In addition, most translators who make the effort to fulfil all the requirements and obtain the ISO Qualifications are forward-thinking professionals who continuously try to ensure they provide the best quality translation. You will also know that at least two qualified professionals have worked on the translation, thus increasing its quality.

It also makes it easier for you to find translators you can trust. By searching for members of professional associations who have met this standard, you can streamline your research process and easily find high-quality professional standards for the language combination and area of specialisation you need.

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