Friday, October 15, 2010

Quantifying the Success of the SDL Trados Certification Program

Anybody remember this? Starting a few years ago, if you were a Trados license holder, you would regularly get spammed with invitations to become a certified user of Trados. This would allow you to prove to potential customers your expertise with the tool. You took a test and, depending upon the results, you had to take paid training courses to improve your level (even if you had been using the program for a zillion years).

Was it successful? Using's directory of freelancers, it appears that repetitive carpet bombing via e-mail only gets you so far., of which I am member, has 2,263 members who pay the subscription fee and describe themselves as English to Spanish translators. Out of that universe, 1,602 report owning some version of SDL Trados. This is a relatively high number (71%) that confirms the program as the industry leader. However, when you probe the directory to see how many are certified, only 28 have proven their bona fies as beginners for the 2006 version and a piddling 26 have done so in the beginner level for Trados Studio 2009 (totals are difficult to come by because the directory forces you to break down results among the different levels and among the different versions). The highest total is 57 for the beginnner level of SDL Trados 2007, a whopping 2.5% of the overall universe of paid members (3.5% of license holders).

Predictably, in my opinion, the program has fallen far short of becoming a must-have for the freelance linguist. So I guess all that spamming was unnecessary. The ATA's certification program has to be a much better investment of time and money. Now Lionbridge has come out with its GeoWorkz Translation Workspace. (What is the "z" for? How can it be trendier to change an "s" for a "z" unless you're a gangsta? Is Lionbridge the baddest homey in the translation 'hood?) Anyway, this attempt to reap marginal rents by leveraging in-house assets seems about as well-thought-out as SDL's certification program. Maybe Trados should have labeled its effort the "Zertification Program." Peace out, yo!

Miguel Llorens is a freelance financial translator based in Madrid who works from Spanish into English. He is specialized in equity research, economics, accounting, and investment strategy. He has worked as a translator for Goldman Sachs, the US Government's Open Source Center and H.B.O. International, as well as many small-and-medium-sized brokerages and asset management companies operating in SpainTo contact him, visit his website and write to the address listed there. Feel free to join his LinkedIn network or to follow him on Twitter.

No comments: