Becoming a certified translator can be quite expensive and time-consuming in some countries. There are different requirements in different parts of the world. In some countries, translators have to pass a test, while in others they don’t need any proof that they know the language to be translated.
In my country, Bulgaria, there are many strict requirements to become a translator, but the procedure is not complicated or expensive.
So what do you need to become a certified translator in Bulgaria?
- A diploma. This is the single most important document that translators need in order to prove that they are proficient in one or several foreign languages. On the other hand, the type of diploma is not that important. It can be from high school or university. With the diploma, the applicant has to prove that they studied the foreign language(s) for at least 600 hours in school and that their grade point average was at a least B-.
- An affidavit. The applicant has to sign an affidavit swearing that they assume legal responsibility for their translations. If you are wondering what the legal penalty for false translation or interpretation is in Bulgaria, it’s up to five years imprisonment. This means that translators in Bulgaria take their work very seriously.
- A translation agency. According to Bulgarian law, certified translators have to be tied to an agency, meaning that you can’t be a freelance certified translator. The only option is to work for a translation agency. Of course, if you don’t want to share your profits with an agency and you aren’t scared of bureaucracy, you can always register your own agency. Working for more than one translation agency is also an option that can guarantee you more projects.
- A visit to the notary office. All documents must be signed by the notary. This can be quite expensive because notary services cost a lot in Bulgaria.
I personally chose to establish my own translation agency in order to become a certified translator. The organization that keeps track of certified translators is the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Many certified translators work with the Bulgarian embassies and consulates abroad and this makes the certification process easier because everything is kept within one organization.
And so I signed a contract with the Ministry and became certified translator. But what does this really mean?
- I can do official translations of certain documents such as birth and marriage certificates, diplomas, medical documentation, architectural plans, contracts and agreements, etc.
- I have a seal that I am allowed to place on my translations. This proves that I am a translator with a certificate issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
- I end up running around the city because there are numerous organizations, companies and individuals needing a certified document, as soon as yesterday, if not sooner.
When I first started working as a translator, I thought that becoming a certified translator was a pointless procedure. You just have to swear in front of the notary that you speak a certain language; there is no test or exam to prove that this is really the truth. However, having a certificate has made me realize that this little piece of paper has increased the number of projects I work on by 50% while my profits have increased 100%. Long live the certificate!