Broader Interpretation of “Professional Level” Could Be A Problem
Our vendor application webform includes 6 Steps. Among them, Step 4 is critical, because it indicates expertise. Regarding fields of expertise, we adopted 3-tiers categorization: Professional, Training and Interest Levels.
However, we did not give any description for them. And, translators consult their own parameters in handling Step 4, which may lead to confusions. For example, a considerable number of freelance translators interpret Professional Level in a broader sense, claiming to meet Professional Level requirements in a wide range of the technical fields.
At this point, I'd like to clarify the distinction between Professional and Training Levels under our vendor management system.
Training Level - familiarity to the subject matter
Thanks to the relatively recent technological advances in translators' editing environments, the modern translators take advantage of "leverage effects" in translating performance in terms of quality and speed. For example, if a frequent kind of translation project is positively packed with a project kit including sizable tm, termlist, reference materials or expert support, it may be convenient for most translators to extend their professional translating capacity to more challenging or rare technical fields, particularly in end-user documents.
I think of this kind of projects as Training Level, which does not mean that they are easy, because taking care of codes, editing on CAT tool environment and adhering to term list, TM, understanding localization requirements, adapting to teamwork, complex instructions, as well as sensitive quality standards require professional discipline, experience, skillset and familiarity to the subject.
Professional Level - subject matter expertise
In some of the rare kind of translation projects, particularly the technical ones, the benefits of modern editing tools may be limited. For example, if the project kit is not readily available, translating process will be critically demanding for Professional Level of understanding of the source and target content, particularly in expert-to-expert documents. In some cases, the source technical texts may contain vague and bad expressions where "expert understanding" is crucial to re-write a readable target text.
I think this kind of projects need to be covered under Professional Level. And, we should remember that the professional level of understanding takes time as a result of higher education, many years of working experience or/and long-term personal interest in any field.
Our project managers consider various criteria in the assignment of a project to the best possible vendor. In some of the rare kind of projects, subject matter expertise and highly specialized translators must definitely be taken under consideration. If we, project managers and freelance translators, can agree on the descriptions above, this would speed up our vendor management processes, ensuring our success to meet the quality standards in challenging expert-to-experts technical projects.