The price of deregulation in the translation industry is not only very high for the professionals working in this industry, but also their clients who end up with exacerbated costs. It lowers standards in the industry, leading to the exploitation of its professionals. And for clients, results in bad quality translations, full of errors, that will need reviewing and will cost more. It is a horrible situation for all involved, see how.
The translation industry is unregulated in almost every country. What this means is that everyone can advertise themselves as translators and charge clients for a service they may not be qualified to do. For clients, this may have a devastating effect, as they will pay for a low-quality translation, that will need to be reviewed and corrected by a professional. Which means paying twice for the same service.
But paying twice is not the worse it can happen. If the low-quality translation is part of an important business deal or application, and because it is full of errors or confusing the deal or application is refused, it will hurt the client in more ways than just money. If that translation is inaccurate may lead to heavy losses for the client.
For the professionals
For us, professionals, deregulation also has a terrible effect. Deregulation is one of the reasons our industry is devalued, leading to a huge devaluation of prices. The wrong perception that everyone can be a translator leads to the idea it is an easy job and therefore should be cheap.
Some agencies exploit this exploiting language professionals by squeezing their prices to a minimum, while they charge the final clients an absolute maximum. So, we end up with a situation where the client and the translator are ripped off by a third party who profits over them both.
What could be done
I believe a good way of fixing this problem is creating rules. If the sector has great professional associations that work for their members and to raise standards in the industry, it would be beneficial for all. A national payment reference system, that would set references for the prices charged in each country, this would not allow translators working almost for free, to gain experience or simply to have some income. It would make the profession be respected and valued as it should be.
Just like in other sectors, association affiliation should be compulsory. Those who wanted to be part of this industry should have proper qualifications and be a member of an association, who not only had the role of promoting the industry but also ensuring its members’ qualifications.
This may look a bit controversial, and I know some of my colleagues may not agree with me, but I strongly believe that if we have more regulations in our industry, we will have more respect and be more valued for what we do.