learningWith my translation certificate in hand, I waltzed out of university. My peers and I felt like the best translators in town. No-one could stop us. We were top of the pops, número uno. We were confident that by the end of 2012 we would have translated 6 best-sellers and be on our way to making a small fortune. Little did we know, we had barely dipped our toes in the real world of translation. We had accrued a wealth of information, but knew nothing, rien, nada about the ins and outs of our industry. We had no idea that the profession of translation, like many others, involves life-long learning and investment in honing and regularly updating our skill-set.

“CP…what?” I hear you cry!

CPD or Continuous Professional Development is a concept I had not heard of until a good 6 months into my career as a translator. Shame on me. So what is it? According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development,  continuous professional development is:   “ [a] combination of approaches, ideas and techniques that will help you manage your own learning and growth. The focus of CPD is firmly on results – the benefits that professional development can bring you in the real world.” So transferring that into real terms then CPD means courses, classes, studies and exams related our professional career that help us to develop our expertise during our life-time. CPD is the trademark of a professional in any sector.

Keep calm…

Now if you are a translator reading this article and starting to feel alarmed, let me assure that for our industry CPD is not necessary, but rather a recommendation in order to keep up with a fast-moving industry. Doctors, pharmacists, accountants, dieticians and other professionals are required by their respective governing bodies to do a certain amount of CPD hours per year.  As a guide, the Institute of Translation and Interpreting recommends that its members complete a minimum of five CPD days per year or the equivalent of 30 hours in total. A few years ago here, in Northern Ireland, there were not many bodies providing training for translators and interpreters. Fortunately, at the moment there are agencies providing OCN community interpreting courses, DPSI and DipTrans training. Often those exams can be sat here, and sometimes the odd participant has to travel to London. However, thanks to the Internet, CPD is now much more accessible with courses readily available online from inexpensive to top range prices depending on the offering.

Plenty of choice

And the good news is that whilst you may want to take a CAT tool course or subtitling class, your CPD does not have to be directly related to translation or interpreting skills. It can be anything from improving and polishing your languages, for instance, a language course to brush up on your L2. It could be a subject-specific course. Let’s take for example, one translator colleague who is taking a class at university on blood borne virues as she is a medical translator. Furthermore, it could be a course to improve your business skills, for example, The Freelance Box or The Business School for Translators.  It could even be an IT-related course, like an Adobe Photoshop class. These are just some suggestions.

Commitment to our clients

Furthermore,  committing to CPD and making a record of it shows our clients that we are dedicated to offering them the best service possible as we want to learn, evolve and grow with the industry. This year my CPD consists of working towards the IoLET Level 7 Diploma in Translation, and I hope to take a Trados course in the summer to get up to speed with the 2014 version of the programme.

What about you? Do you think CPD is important? What training are you going to do this year? Please let me know in the comment section below, I’d love to hear from you!


7 thoughts on “What is Continuous Professional Development for Translators?

  1. Good luck with the diploma, Christina! I think the crucial thing about CPD is to do what you need and what will benefit you, rather than feeling you’ve got to do a certain amount every year come what may.


  2. Hi Simon,
    Thank you for your comment. I’ll be needing your luck with the DipTrans, as she is quite demanding from what I’ve read and studied so far. I totally agree with your point. It would be better to take a 5 hour Trados course that provides a lot of benefit than a 30 hour one on marketing with fewer benefits just to punch in the hours. Have you plans for CPD this year?


  3. Hi Christina, you are spot on! Nobody should stop learning! Today I went to a seminar on how to improve my website content, and in the future I hope to attend events run by a local tourism organisation to learn about this sector. Good luck with your CPD!


    1. Hi Natalie! Thanks for your comment. Where are you based? It’s great that you have easy access to seminars and events. I totally agree – nobody should stop learning. Sometimes it can be hard for me to get focused and chose the right training from among the offering there is these days. I’m always looking for something new, diverse and helpful. If you have any recommendations, please let me know!


      1. I’m based in Plymouth, UK, and have just joined my local Chamber of Commerce, which organises loads of networking events and seminars (with lots of free food, haha). I also contacted my local tourist board, who run their own seminars on social media etc. for local businesses like hotels, attraction parks, etc. Since leisure and tourism is one of my specialisms, I hope that it’ll be really insightful! We’ll see how it all goes! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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