DipTrans and MITI exams: side by side

DipTrans and MITI examsIn January this year I took the Diploma in Translation (DipTrans) set by the Chartered Institute of Linguists and the MITI exam to become a qualified member of the Institute of Translating & Interpreting. This post is an account of my experience of the two exams.

Why did I take these exams?

My path into translation came from a career switch from nursing. I completed a one-year course on translation in Madrid when I made the change, but I didn’t have a formal translation qualification as such. This hasn’t been a problem when marketing my services; most new clients are more interested in my medical background and years of experience. But I felt ready for a new challenge and so in 2012 I decided to make the DipTrans my goal. At the same time, I’d been looking at becoming a member of the ITI for some time because qualified membership is something else that potential clients may be looking for.

Facts and figures

DipTrans MITI
Requirements: None specified All other requirements for membership have to be accepted.
Cost: £548 for 3 papers (plus exam venue fees – €300 at the British Council in Madrid) £210 for the exam (membership application and fees are charged separately)
Date: Exams are held once a year in January. Any weekend by previous arrangement with the admissions officer.
Place: Big choice of centres worldwide. Home!
Exam length: 600 words for the general paper; 400 words for each semi-specialised paper. 1000 words plus a 500-1000 word commentary.
Time: 3 hours for the general paper, 2 hours each for the two semi-specialised papers. From Friday midday until the following Monday midday.
Choice of subject: A single text for the general paper; technology, business or literature for the first semi-specialised paper; science, social science or law for the second. You see all the options in the exam and make your choice on the spot. A range of subject fields to choose from in advance.
Resources: Pen and paper or a computer, depending on the centre. No Internet connection. As many paper dictionaries as you can fit on a 2-metre desk. All that you use under normal working conditions: Internet, CAT tools, your own TMs, consultation with colleagues for specific terminology.
Results: 14 weeks, by post Normally 6-8 weeks, by email
Pass rate: About 30-40% About 60-70%
Feedback: No automatic feedback. A re-mark costs £70 and provides detailed feedback. Two-page feedback listing excellent, good, acceptable points and errors, with examples. Detailed report: £60


To prepare for the DipTrans exam I signed up for the Susanne James online course and worked my way through six past papers, as well as reading the DipTrans Handbook and Examiners’ Comments. I subscribed to New Scientist and The Economist to make sure I was up to date with the latest scientific advances and current affairs. I also had to invest in more recent editions of some of my dictionaries – my dog-eared Collins Concise English dictionary dated back to 1992.

To be eligible for the MITI exam, you must first be accepted as a suitable candidate for ITI membership. Requirements are:

  • A degree in any subject or a minimum of 6 years’ experience.
  • 3 years’ experience. A minimum word count per year is no longer required.
  • Two professional references and one character reference.
  • Signed Code of Professional Conduct.

Since I could choose the subject of the MITI exam I thought there was little I could do to prepare for the exam itself.

The exam

The DipTrans is a 7-hour, open-book, cut-off-from-the-world ordeal. The MITI exam is a pseudo-translation job with a decent deadline and a chance to explain all your decisions in a commentary (i.e., your ideal client). Need I say more?

The wait

I waited for 13-14 weeks to receive the results of both exams. That is a looong wait. In the case of the DipTrans at least it was announced, but the ITI said it would take 6-8 weeks, so that did try my patience. Also, the DipTrans results are sent by post, which seems very last century, and particularly frustrating for people who live outside Europe and are faced with an extra two or three weeks’ wait.


DipTrans: I passed the two semi-specialised papers but failed the general paper at the January 2012 sitting. Actually, this was a surprise because I thought I did better in the general paper than in the other ones. The science paper was about astronomy and since I know next to nothing about this topic I had to opt for the social-science paper, which was on international community development. The technical paper was a set of instructions for an industrial printer, so that wasn’t really up my street either. Strangely enough, I passed these two papers and failed the general one on tourism and Machu Picchu.

Last January I re-sat the general paper and was pleased to see the subject was health tourism in the EU. It was still quite challenging so I was very relieved to hear I’d passed it.

MITI: I chose medicine and pharmaceuticals for the MITI exam and was told I’d still be able to ask for a different text if I felt the one I was sent was not one that I would accept as a job from a client. I can’t give any details about this text as we were asked not to discuss it in public and I had to destroy the source text on delivery of my exam. However, I felt it was a good reflection of the type of work I translate on a daily basis, with terminology to research, ambiguities to solve and a register that had to fit this particular text. Despite feeling fairly confident that I had passed, I was delighted to get the email confirmation because those long weeks of waiting make you doubt just about every sentence you’ve translated!

DipTrans or MITI?

I think the MITI exam is an excellent reflection of what a professional translator can produce under normal working conditions. The DipTrans exam is a tougher test; it proves you can tackle (almost) anything that is thrown your way, even under adverse circumstances (read: no Internet). DipTrans is a standalone qualification and is accredited as postgraduate Level 7 by Ofqual. The MITI exam provides qualified entrance to the ITI and carries all the advantages of belonging to a professional association.

  • If you already have an MA in translation then DipTrans is probably overkill for you, but if you haven’t got a translation qualification then this is the way to go.
  • If you want to show potential clients that you are endorsed by a prestigious translators’ association and you like networking with colleagues of high professional standing, then the MITI exam is the right one for you.
  • If, like me, you want that extra challenge, then go for both!
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78 Responses to DipTrans and MITI exams: side by side

  1. Lucy Brooks says:

    Congratulations Emma, and thank you for writing such a clear comparison. It gives reason to my decision not to take the Dip.Trans. I had been toying with it for years and never got together the strength and stamina needed to take it. On the other hand the MITI which I took earlier this year was a good experience. Not a doddle, but just like doing a job for a client, apart from the commentary, which I used to justify my decisions. I certainly wouldn’t make so many comments to a customer..

    • Thanks, Lucy. No, I wouldn’t make so many comments to a customer either, but it was the sort of thing I might discuss with a good PM (maybe not all 1000 words of it, though).

    • Roger Marshall says:

      Thank you Lucy. What a coincidence! I have been through almost the same trajectory as you. I did the DipTrans in January 2012, failed the general paper and passed the other two (the Machu Picchu text was a kiler!), retook the general paper in January 2013 and passed it. I have yet to discover exactly what benefits the DipTrans will have, but I’m reasonably optimistic. I also took an MA in translation from Pompeu Fabra university in Barcelona. Dressed up to the nines, I am! All I need now is worthwhile translation work!

      • How funny, Roger, we both failed and passed the same general papers! Glad you thought Machu Picchu was a killer too!

        • Roger Marshall says:

          I apparently spelt “Picchu” woth one “c” throughout! That was only part of my downfall, but it had me kicking myself when I was told in the review that I asked for

      • Roger Marshall says:

        Sorry. Thanks “Emma” I should have said.

  2. Ty Kendall says:

    Interesting post Emma! Thanks for sharing 🙂
    I must be a masochist because I would like to do both too….over time though, not sure I would/could take them both in the same year (not to mention the damage it would do to my wallet if taken in short succession). I’m aiming for the DipTrans first though, partially because of a very childish (well, not childish but rooted in childhood) desire to belong to the IoL and to have their ‘seal of approval’, so to speak.
    The MITI process seems the more painless of the two and definitely more practical (as it seems to reflect what we actually do on a daily basis – even if idealized somewhat) but it must be nostalgia that is pushing me for the DipTrans option, I do miss sitting exams with the strict exam conditions I remember from school/college/Uni. I blame a mid-life crisis. 🙂

    • I’m sure the CIoL would like to have you among its ranks, Ty, with your linguistic expertise. I’ve also looked at joining the CIoL, but thought that the ITI must be more specific to the translation profession. Good luck with your DipTrans; I’m sure you’ll do well!

  3. Sally Hill says:

    Thanks for this Emma, very useful. Having also moved into translation from the sciences I too sometimes feel the need for some kind of translation qualification. Although I had not considered the DipTrans it’s nice to see them side by side like this. I have however just taken the MITI exam and could not imagine translating without access to the internet or my digital dictionaries!

    • Yes, we come from a similar background, Sally, and I think it’s important to show that we’re competent translators despite (or in addition to) our original qualifications. Being able to choose a specific subject for the MITI exam certainly makes it a more appealing option for specialised translators.

  4. David Hayes says:

    Good summary of these two exams. I already hold the DipTrans and am also an Associate of the ITI. This post makes me think that I ought to consider upgrading to become an MITI. I regard such exams to be part of CPD and so do not look for an immediate return in terms of a sudden rise in job offers.

    • Hi David. Good comment about exam preparation being part of CPD – in the case of the DipTrans it certainly was. The MITI exam, however, is more a reflection of your current translation ability, so not so much preparation can go into it.

  5. Rose Newell says:

    Thanks, Emma! Great summary. I recently wrote a detailed summary of my experiences of becoming MITI (http://lingocode.com/becoming-a-qualified-member-of-the-iti/) and have been considering the DipTrans. DipTrans certainly has some advantages over MITI in terms of what it shows to clients/colleagues. I’ve been considering it…
    Your comments on the papers themselves are also interesting – that you passed the papers you were less sure about, but failed the one you were more confident about! A little worrying. Still, all told, if anything you have made me more keen to take the DipTrans, but perhaps not right now.

    BTW: Are you sure the DipTrans science paper was on astrology (horoscopes) and not astronomy (planets and stars)? Historically the same discipline, mind!

    • Hi Rose, I enjoyed your detailed post on becoming an MITI, and it was a great idea to ask Elizabeth Dickson, the ITI Admissions Officer, for her thoughts too.
      Thanks for picking up on the astrology/astonomy typo (edited out now). I’m sure you understand why I decided to give that paper a miss – I can’t even spell the word 🙂

      • Rose Newell says:

        Haha, I’d have probably given it a miss, too! I find the splitting of the subjects quite annoying on the DipTrans. My main specialisations all come into paper one. I DID study Politics as half of my degree at university, so I could hope the social sciences paper relates to politics (unlikely) or that the law paper relates to commercial law (i.e. finance), or that the science paper relates to computer science (VERY unlikely). Otherwise I’d be a bit lost, I think…
        Thanks again for the summary. Very useful for people with one and now considering the other.

  6. Lucy Brooks says:

    Sally makes an excellent point about lack of online resources when doing the Dip.Trans. One of the reasons for me not to do the Dip.Trans was that Internet access was banned, so out goes any form of on-line research. Perhaps the Dip.Trans people think this is cheating, but it’s exactly what we do for a real client, so what is wrong with it? I took the MITI mainly for my own satisfaction, and not to gain more work.

    • I think that it’s time that the DipTrans exam is restructured: computer format only (no pen and paper); Internet access (that is a given in this day and age); email correspondence pre- and post-exam. Taking the exam at an external centre (i.e., not in your own home) could be maintained, because working under stress is also a good test of a translator’s ability.

      • Ty Kendall says:

        The internet access thing puzzles me. I can kind of see the reasons for it, but at the same time it seems a little bizarre. The internet, when used by translators, is just another dictionary. It’s not like someone is going to Google-translate their way through the exam (unless they want to fail!). It reminds me of the BBC show “The Apprentice” when they are set tasks which, for some unknown reason, are based on the premise that the internet doesn’t exist and out come the yellow pages… it’s all very weird, inefficient and so very…last century so as to be seriously conspicuous.

        • Well, to play the devil’s advocate, if you have access to the Internet, you could conceivably email the text to an expert to get it translated “perfectly” in a 3-hour window. Apart from the fact that it would be cheating, I’d prefer to do the translation myself and not rely on anyone else, but I can see how Internet access could be misused under these circumstances.

  7. As I always say about your blog, Emma, it is a pleasure to read concise, down-to-earth, qualified posts which are as informative as thought-provoking. Though I am very busy and I have little time to read blogs, I make a point of visiting your website whenever I can. Congratulations!

  8. Idoia Echenique says:

    Lo primero, ¡enhorabuena! 😀 Un excelente análisis comparativo de ambos exámenes, muchas gracias. Como yo también he llegado a la traducción desde otro campo (en mi caso ingeniería) sentía la “necesidad” de validar mis conocimientos con una titulación formal, en parte para evitarme todas las explicaciones de rigor a los nuevos clientes y, como has dicho, por el reto en sí mismo, así que por fin el año pasado me decidí a presentarme al DipTrans en enero de 2013 (ese es otro aspecto que no me gusta del examen, tener que decidirlo por lo menos con seis meses de antelación). ¡Toda una experiencia lo de cargar con la maleta de diccionarios y echar de menos la conexión a internet cada vez que surgía una duda…!
    Afortunadamente, lo he pasado, y ahora estoy pensando en presentarme al del ITI como otro reto personal y, tras leer tu artículo, creo que “sufriré” un poco menos. 😉

    • ¡Gracias, Idoia! Desde luego el examen de MITI va a ser una experiencia mucho más amena si ya has sufrido (¡y aprobado!) el DipTrans con la maleta de diccionarios, un frio que pela y la suerte de los temas que te puedan tocar.
      Un abrazo, Emma.
      (Editado para corregir una errata desafortunada en tu nombre;))

  9. Lawyer-Linguist says:

    Excellent post Emma, thank you! I hold the DipTrans (NL>EN) and so know it’s no easy task sitting three papers in one day, without access to the Internet, which is probably what accounts for the comparatively low pass rate. I’m keen after reading this, and Rose’s recent MITI post on her blog, to try for the dual qualification too. Congratulations on both, it’s a great achievement!

    • Thanks, Deborah, it’s interesting that comments here are about half divided between people who hold the DipTrans and half who are MITIs. Maybe I’ll start a new trend with the dual qualification.
      BTW, I enjoyed reading your blog post on COMMIT as I was one of people who suffered the onslaught of a particular COMMIT advocate on Twitter that you mention. You’re right, there are a lot of excellent agencies out there. http://lawyerlinguist.wordpress.com/2013/05/19/to-commit-or-not-to-commit-part-1/

      • Lawyer-Linguist says:

        Hi Emma,

        I am pretty sure you are going to start a new trend! I think there’s much to be said for both, the one being under exam conditions and the other being under normal working conditions. I’d like to think I have the harder of the two out the way, but I rather suspect that may not be the case!

        Really glad you enjoyed COMMIT Part 1. I have to make the time to sit and write Part 2, but the incident I refer to in Part 1 really made my blood boil that afternoon.

        Take care, and again congratulations, it’s no mean feat gaining both qualifications!

  10. Cathy Dobson says:

    Thanks for a very clear post and congratulations on both passes. When I took the DipTrans eight years ago I seem to remember that the justification for no Internet access was because of the supposed risk of candidates emailing the exam text out to a more competent translator and then sitting back waiting for the finished product to be delivered. At £500 a time though, I find that scenario quite hard to imagine. The exam conditions with no on-line access do make for a very unrealistic setting, but the experience definitely prepared me for having to translate to a good standard under pressure of time in a way that the MA I went on to take never did, and that does reflect how I sometimes have to work in real life.
    It’s interesting to see the DipTrans compared to the ITI exam here rather than to a translation MA, as I have frequently encountered the view that the ITI qualification is superior to the DipTrans because the latter is more of an entry-level qualification. I’m not sure what I think about this view however as to pass the DipTrans is definitely no mean feat.

    • Hi Cathy, I can’t agree with the view that the DipTrans is an entry-level qualification (although that’s how it’s introduced in the DipTrans Handbook). The low pass rate seems to confirm this (people only pay £500 if they think they’re going to pass, so we’re only considering apparently well-prepared candidates). For me, the key difference between the DipTrans and the MITI exam was being able to choose my subject field in the latter. This alone makes it the most accessible exam of the two, before even entering the Internet/no Internet debate.

  11. Hi Emma
    Thanks for the comparison. I sat the DipTrans this year as an experienced German>English translator. I was so relieved to see I passed all three papers first time. I’ve also written about my experience of it. I’m going to reblog your post now.

  12. Reblogged this on Given Communication and commented:
    Like myself, here is a seasoned translator who just got qualified.

  13. Hi Emma,
    Thanks for this excellent summary. I spent a couple of years considering the DipTrans, and eventually dismissed it for logistical reasons – I’m a long way from an exam centre – not to mention the lack of resources during the exam and the uncertainty over the subject. I did do a DipTrans preparation course though, and found the feedback very helpful.
    I took (and passed!) the MITI exam at the end of last year, and found it very true to life. It’s worth noting too that you can do the exam in the week by arrangement if a weekend is not convenient.

    • Thanks for your comment, Caroline. You’re right, the MITI exam is far more flexible than the DipTrans, with the possibility of taking it any weekend you choose, or during the week as a last resort.

  14. Thanks for this Emma! *BOOKMARKED* I sat the Spanish into English Dip Trans in 1989 and it was, even then, very much as you have described. I have only recently started working as a translator, after many career toings and froings, such as becoming a solicitor, so I was hoping to take the MITI next year as a kind of latter day validation. It’s very useful to know what to expect.

    Muchas gracias!

    • Wow! You’ve had your DipTrans since 1989. You must have been one of the very first. Interesting that the exam doesn’t seem to have changed very much since then. The question is, is that good (because the standard remains about the same) or bad (at least there was a reason for not using the Internet back in 1989)?

      • I passed so I would say this wouldn’t I?… It’s mainly a good thing.

        Well, I liked the formality of it and I enjoyed the challenge. But especially, I liked the fact that I could just walk in there and sit it in one day. Bit of context, I’d been living in Spain for about 18 years, although my first language was English. Recently moved to the UK and was unemployed, all my qualificatios were Spanish. But the IoL as they then were, like the civil service, were happy to allow me to sit it without too much kerffufle. My poor hubby he had to cart all the dictionaries etc. down to London in a big suitcase.
        Oh I couldn’t get a job in translation back then but it’s been a godsend these last few years, it gave me confidence. I’m really enjoying being self-employed.

        • Maria, I love the way you say “I could just walk in there and sit it in one day”. You make it sound a doddle! I know where you’re coming from – no specific requirements, no long course to do – but I hope people don’t think it is that easy. In my experience, it certainly wasn’t.

  15. Well done, Emma :).

    When I did the DipTrans in 2008, the texts were referred to as “semi-specialised” (presumably, they still are). This means no arcane terminology – which is perhaps not fully reflective of a real-life translation job. They didn’t seem massively difficult. I don’t think that doing 3 exams in one day is any more draining than a normal hard day’s work, especially if you have years of professional experience under your belt (which I didn’t at the time), although there is the “exam stress” to factor in, of course.

    An important difference is that, once you have your DipTrans, you have it for ever. It’s a qualification, in other words; you can put letters after your name. The MITI exam, on the other hand, qualifies you (if you also meet the other requirements) for membership of the ITI; if you stop paying the subs, then you’re not MITI any more (and you have to take the exam again – or apply via the alternative route – if you want to rejoin).

    • Thanks, Oliver! Well, I’d say the technical paper had its fair share of “arcane terminology” . Twin sleeve rollers and mono-component toners aren’t “semi-specialised” concepts, if you ask me.
      I certainly agree with you about the huge advantage of having DipTrans for ever. It’ll be with me until I die 🙂

  16. Phillippa Bennett says:

    Hi Emma, Thanks for this excellent comparison. I took the DipTrans (Portuguese – English) back in 2009 and was very relieved to hear I passed first time. The frustrating 5 month wait for the results almost drove me crazy. Am seriously considering taking the ITI entrance exam at the moment, so it was interesting to see the exams compared side by side. It’s a question now of getting myself organised!
    Congratulations on your results 🙂

  17. Thanks Emma, very useful. I have the DipTrans (DE>EN) and it was a tough one and have started the MITI application process. I sat the DipTrans exam because I do not have a translation degree I have a “general” languages degree and a lot of business experience) and wanted a translation qualification. But from a business and CPD point of view, the ITI as an organisation is miles ahead of CIoL.

    • Interesting to hear your opinion of ITI and CIoL, Eileen. Sounds like an interesting blog post (ITI and CIoL: side by side).
      Would anyone like to offer a guest post here?!

  18. Pingback: DipTrans and MITI exams: side by side (reblogged from Emma Goldsmith’s blog) | 翻譯生涯紀聞

  19. Ángel Domínguez says:

    Great article, Emma.

    The DipTrans makes for better, more interesting anecdotes (expensive ones, also). I remember a woman sitting in front of me with a huge suitcase (almost as big as herself) full of dictionaries, which she piled up in a precarious tower that I feared would fall if a fly so much as buzzed past it. It was an ordeal, as you said yourself, but an interesting experience.

    After reading this, I think I’ll try the MITI. BUT: Has any of you experienced any professional benefits from having either (or both) of these certifications? I always bring up the DipTrans thing in my emails to new clients, but nobody has ever asked whether I was certified or not; and I don’t even hold a degree in translation. Also, are there actual advantages to being an ITI member if you’re outside the UK?

    • Love the anecdote, Ángel!
      In terms of professional benefits, while the DipTrans is highly regarded in the UK, here in Spain (as you know) a lot of people haven’t even heard of it. This was one reason why I thought that the qualifications I now have under my belt will be more appreciated by my current clients, because in the last few years my client base has changed from being largely Spanish to almost solely European.
      The ITI has an international network that sounds interesting, although in this day and age networking really knows no boundaries.

  20. Sonia says:

    Hi Emma, many thanks for the info. I had no idea about the MITI exam. I already sat for the Diptrans, which was quite challenging for me, specially, as you said, we normally use the Internet for work, not only paper dictionaries. The MITI exam sounds interesting, but having to justify my choices would take me longer than the transation itself! I mean, I dont usually have to write comments about my work so I´d need lot of practice. Well, once again, thanks for sharing your experience!

    • Thanks for your comment, Sonia. I’d never done a written commentary as an academic exercise before either, but it really wasn’t hard. First, the ITI send a sample commentary so you can see what they are looking for. Second, I’m sometimes asked to review a translation done by someone else and give reasons why I think it’s good or bad, discussing specific sentences and terms used, and so that’s rather like the written commentary in the MITI exam. Don’t worry about it!

  21. Hi Emma
    What would you say about the marking criteria for the ITI exam? Do they give particular weight to one aspect over another? Are they especially picky in certain areas? Do they have a preferred “style”? How would you have prepared differently for the exam if you’d known beforehand, given what they said in the report?

    • Hi Oliver,
      Marking criteria included points such as Spelling, Punctuation, Accurate transfer of content, Appropriate terminology, Appropriate register, Appropriate rewording, Collocation, Tautology, Consistency, Grammar, Syntax, Tense usage, Layout and presentation, Omissions/Additions.
      Rather than giving extra weight to any particular aspect, emphasis was placed on seriousness of errors, which is quite logical. Obviously any single major error leads to a fail.
      I wouldn’t have prepared differently after reading the feedback.
      There was an interesting thread in ProZ a little while back started by someone who apparently failed because of layout issues. It’s worth reading the opinions that were aired, so you can draw your own conclusion.
      Here’s a link to that thread: http://ow.ly/mCaRX

  22. Pingback: Joining the SfEP: why I added another professional association to my armoury | Speech Marks Translation

  23. Geraldine Pugh says:

    What a great post, Emma! It’s great to read about your experiences (and to know that so many of us were tripped up by the Machu Picchu text on the Diptrans 2012!). The side-by-side comparison is particularly useful. I think I agree with all of your recommendations about changes to the DipTrans. However, having Internet access would make it easier, without a doubt. Would that make the pass rate higher and thus “devalue” the qualification. Who knows?

    • Thanks for your comment, Geraldine. Interesting point about a potentially higher pass rate with if Internet were allowed for the DipTrans. I think the exam is very challenging in many ways and the Internet is only one factor, so probably the pass rate wouldn’t be affected. I suppose that any current allowance made for non-serious terminology errors wouldn’t be applied in that case, similar to the zero tolerance for typos in exams done with a computer versus some leeway for those written by hand.

  24. Hi Emma, and thanks so much for posting this. I’m currently weighing up which one to go for, and was tilting towards the DipTrans till I read this. The exam conditions etc do sound rather inflexible and outdated. Having to wait an entire year to sit/resit it isn’t particularly helpful either.

  25. Hi Emma, I also wanted to say thanks for this wonderful post – it puts everything so clearly. I really wish I’d read something like this five years ago! I am currently re-researching the DipTrans to try and get my nerve up to resit for a final time, after a little break. (For a summary of my chequered history with the DipTrans and my concerns about resitting you might want to check out my recent post on a Translator’s Café thread about the exam: http://www.translatorscafe.com/cafe/MegaBBS/thread-view.asp?threadid=720&start=131
    – I won’t bother re-hashing my story here and ambushing your blog 🙂
    I must say though that, based on comments here and elsewhere, failing the general paper whilst passing the two semi specialised ones does seem extremely common! It’s very interesting! (My language pair is Chinese-English.) I hadn’t bothered mentioning this in my TC post linked above, but like you, I was most surprised at the outcome as I had found the general paper the least taxing of all three!
    Charlotte x

    • Hi Charlotte, thanks for linking to your very interesting post on TC. I’ve answered in more detail there.

      • I’ve just read your reply – thanks for your advice and for your supportive words! It’s nice to hear encouragement from someone who is skilled enough to have gained the qualification herself. Sometimes that’s all we really need, isn’t it? Yes, I tend to agree: I’m not one for regrets, and although it is a lot of money (again), I don’t think I’d like to spend the rest of my life wondering “What if…?”
        Well done on a great blog. Have a lovely weekend 🙂

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  27. Adi says:

    Hi Emma! Thank you so much for this post! I am currently a languages teacher wannabe translator and trying to figure out the best way into it. I was actually looking into the MA in Translation, then stumbled on the DipTrans (which would allow me to continue working for a year whilst following the course) but i’m not sure which would carry more weight in the eyes of future clients…any clues? I will definitely go for the MITI however after either MA or DipTrans. Would love some feedback from people who have done the career change! Also, if you don’t necessarily come from a subject specific background like myself (used to work in Finance, but not really interested in that sort of translation), what are the options? I don’t expect you to have all the answers to any of these questions, but as you are experienced, you might be able to point me in the right direction….hopefully! 🙂 Muchas gracias!

    • Hi Adi, Thanks for your comment. I would have thought that if you haven’t got any experience as a translator, then the DipTrans would be a tough call for you, whereas an MA would teach you the skills you are lacking as a translator and draw on your skills as a linguist. You might be interested in browsing the Proz forum on Professional Development – there are lots of threads on qualifications there. The Getting Established forum in Proz is a good place for general-versus-specialist translator discussions. Good luck! Emma

  28. Lisa Simpson says:

    Hi Emma,

    Thanks for posting that. It’s an interesting read. Are you now both an MCIL and an MITI? If so, and I realise it may be too early to comment, I wonder how you feel the two memberships compare and which has brought you the most benefits? I sat the Dip. Trans. back in ’94 and I’ve been an MCIL since 2000 and an AITI more recently. As others have said, I like the fact that the Dip. Trans. is a recognised qualification and nobody can take it away from you. Clearly the main point of sitting the ITI exam is for full qualified membership of the Institute, but I confess to never having fully committed to the ITI partly because I’ve heard from so many who have fallen foul of their somewhat inconsistent exam process, and partly also because the Institute itself appears to be so fragmented. The main forum is all but dead, nothing much seems to happen there, so I presume all the action is in the individual networks but that leads to me to question whether or not it suits translators like me who have more than one source language or specialisation, which would in turn mean joining half a dozen or more different networks. If I’m not mistaken, I think one can do that as an AITI anyway. I’m all for supporting professional associations although feel we would be much stronger as a single institute. However, since we all know that’s not likely to happen any time too soon/ever, I’d be interested to know what advantage there is in sitting two sets of exams and joining both?

    • Hi Lisa, I decided not join the CIoL for reasons similar to those mentioned by Eileen Laurie in her comment above.
      I do see what you mean about the ITI fragmentation issue if you have several source languages or fields, but this works to my advantage as I only do medical Spanish to English translations.
      I’ve had quite a few job enquiries through the ITI directory since I became an MITI, and this may also be due to my single work focus.
      So I’m sorry, I can’t comment on the advantages of belonging to both organisations, but I’ll repeat a comment I made earlier. Does anyone fancy writing a guest post here on ITI and CIoL side by side?

  29. Pingback: 2013 review of Signs & Symptoms of Translation | Signs & Symptoms of Translation

  30. Peter Shortall says:

    Many thanks for posting this useful comparison, Emma. May I ask how long it took for your MITI exam to be arranged after you had applied? I am currently an AITI and applied at the beginning of January to take the MITI exam in one of the subjects that was on the list, but they still haven’t found a text (they say all the texts they’ve received have been unsuitable, though in whose opinion that is, I don’t know!) Initially they said it would take 4-6 weeks; nigh-on three months seems somewhat excessive to me, but I don’t know how this compares with other applications.

    • Hi Peter, I think I arranged the MITI exam for the very next weekend after the rest of my application had been approved, but I know the ITI has been very busy in the last few months with many AITIs moving up a category and there also seems to be a problem finding texts that are suitable and aren’t subject to copyright. So I was very fortunate in that respect. Hope you get your exam soon and good luck with it! I really enjoyed mine – it was a unique experience!

  31. Peter Shortall says:

    Thanks for taking the time to reply, Emma. Glad you enjoyed the experience. Personally I liked the old-fashioned set-up of the DipTrans, but I think that’s mostly just nostalgia for my school days! I’ll give the ITI a while longer…

  32. Lisa Simpson says:

    There is indeed a desperate dearth of exam texts. Having recently passed the exam I’ll be happy to share my experience with you. Please feel free to email me via my website http://www.decipherit.net

  33. Geraldine Pugh says:

    I really think that if I’d known about the MITI at the time, I would never have gone down the long and expensive road of DipTrans.

  34. Pingback: DipTrans vs MITI exams | Dirty Little Secrets

  35. Hi Emma, a great blog post, very interesting! I wonder, how did you find the experience at the British Council in Madrid? I’d like to do the DipTrans there but I’ve heard that it’s badly organised and that you aren’t allowed to use Word, only notepad.

    • Hi Lucy, my experience at the British Council in Madrid in 2012/2013 was excellent. Organisation was smooth. They supplied all exam candidates with laptops running Word 2003 and an external mouse. There was one printer in the room and we had to print out our final version from our laptop within the exam time. It was expensive (see price in post) but well worth it. The other centre in Madrid that organises DipTrans exam sittings is Escuela Sampere, which charges about €100, but the exam is done with pen and paper. There’s no way I’d do the exam under those conditions.
      Hope that helps,

  36. That’s really helpful, Emma! Thanks for replying so quickly. My friend had a bad experience a couple of years ago (before 2012/2013) and complained afterwards so it sounds like they have taken that on board and improved, which is a relief!

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