What’s the Difference between the DipTrans and CertTrans?

Last updated Feb 4, 2024
By Gwenydd Jones

Looking for a formal qualification in translation? The CertTrans certificate in translation and the DipTrans diploma in translation are what you need.

These vocational translation qualifications are awarded by the Chartered Institute of Linguists (CIOL). They’re designed for professional translators and recognised by translation companies and international organisations worldwide.

Read on to understand the difference between the CertTrans and DipTrans and which will suit you best.

Translator wondering the difference between the diptrans and certtrans article image

What’s the CertTrans qualification?

The CertTrans from the CIOL is designed to test early career translation skills. It’s a great option if you’re a linguist looking to offer translation services. But the qualification is also helpful if you’d like to work with international organisations worldwide since they need foreign language professionals who know how to translate.

You can find out all about it in our ultimate guide to the CertTrans qualification, which includes a video interview with the CEO of the Chartered Institute.

What’s the DipTrans exam?

The DipTrans is the gold standard exam from CIOL qualifications. It’s the one that puts your professional translation skills to the ultimate test. Professional translation isn’t just about knowing a foreign language. Professional translators have a deep understanding of the source language and culture, and expert written skills in their target language. They understand translation theory and know how to apply it in their translation decisions.

If you’re a very experienced translator and you want proof that you’re the bee’s knees at what you do, the DipTrans is for you.

Get the full lowdown in our essential guide to the DipTrans qualification, including a YouTube interview with the CEO of the CIOL.

What qualifications do you need to be a translator in the UK?

While there are no official requirements to operate as a translator in the UK, the CertTrans and DipTrans are an excellent choice if you want to be a freelance translator. The same is true if you want to offer professional translation in house, anywhere in the world.

CIOL qualifications are government regulated, which means they’re the only translation association that offers official qualifications. This type of translator certification will improve your career prospects within translation and in the language services industry at large.

Similarities between the DipTrans and CertTrans

Internationally recognised awarding organisation

Both qualifications are regulated and awarded by an internationally recognised awarding organisation: CIOL qualifications (the Chartered Institute of Linguists, London).

Official qualifications regulated by the British Government

Both the CertTrans and DipTrans are OFQUAL regulated qualifications. OFQUAL is the British government agent responsible for managing official qualifications in the UK.

The exams test your reading and writing skills

The CertTrans and DipTrans are both written translation exams that involve reading the foreign language and writing in your target language.

These exams have nothing to do with interpreting, which involves listening in the foreign language and speaking in your target language. If you want to become an interpreter, check out the DPSI (diploma in public service interpreting) from the Chartered Institute of Linguists.

Translation companies and recognition

Language services companies will recognise and respect both qualifications. Having them will therefore improve your career prospects.

Commercial translation skills

In the translation profession, both qualifications prove that you have commercial translation skills in the language combinations of the exam.

Suitable for different types of translator

Whether you want to be a freelance translator or an in-house translator, both qualifications will be recognised by employers and international organisations worldwide.

Online exam format

CIOL qualifications offers the exams online and so you can sit them in the comfort of your own home. You don’t have to waste time and money going to an exam centre.

Need for translation practice and formal translator training

Professional translators become excellent as the result of a great deal of training and effort. Working towards a formal qualification is a great way to increase your translation practice and develop your skill set.

This may include adding a new language pair and learning about translation theory. For both qualifications, translators are recommended to do a preparatory course through a reputable online translation course like ours.

Membership grades and becoming a chartered linguist

You don’t have to be a member of the CIOL to do the CertTrans or DipTrans exams. Though can join as a study affiliate to start to enjoy the membership benefits such as free mentoring and discounts.

If you pass the CertTrans or DipTrans and meet the other requirements, you’ll soon be eligible to become a full member. As you build up your experience, you’ll eventually be able to apply to become a chartered linguist.

Candidate and employer interest

Candidate and employer interest in these two exams is very high. The qualifications are regulated by the UK government and controlled by CIOL qualifications. This means they’re fair and properly managed.

If you want to be a professional translator then they’re a great option, whether you want to work as a freelance translator or an in-house linguist.

Differences between the DipTrans and CertTrans

Translator skill level and amount of professional experience

The CertTrans qualification is an entry level qualification. It proves early career translation skills and is suitable if you have a language degree or excellent language skills.

The DipTrans exam is for expert translators and provides benchmark evidence of your expertise in translation. You should work as a full-time professional translator for at least two years before attempting it.

In both cases, it’s a good idea to do exam preparation with a reputable centre like The Translator’s Studio. Check out our CertTrans and DipTrans preparation offering. Get top tips from our ex-students on CertTrans preparation and DipTrans preparation.

Regulated qualification level

The CertTrans is level six under the British qualification framework, while the DipTrans is level seven.

This means the CertTrans is a degree level translation qualification, like a translation degree. The DipTrans is a master’s level or postgraduate degree level translation qualification.

Source language skill level

For the CertTrans qualification, the source language skill level is advanced, which is at least C1 under the EU qualifications framework. That’s the equivalent to a degree level translation qualification.

For the DipTrans qualification, the source language skill level is proficient, which is C2 under the EU qualifications framework. That’s the equivalent level to a post-graduate degree or master’s level qualification regulated by an awarding body.

Target language skill level

For the CertTrans, it’s possible to pass if you have a C2 level in the target language. For the DipTrans exam, the language professional needs to have a native level in the target language.

At both levels, candidates should get quality translator training that includes helping them improve their target language skills. For the DipTrans exam, you need to know how to write at a professional level in your first language. That includes knowing how to edit and proofread your own work.

It’s essential to become competent at your translation skills if you want to be a successful professional translator. Check out our exam preparation courses.

Language combinations available

The IOL educational trust currently makes the CertTrans available in combinations with Spanish, French, German, Arabic, Chinese and English. Being the language hub that it is though, the Chartered Institute plans to add other language combinations as soon as possible.

The DipTrans offers a wide range of language combinations, which you can check out on the CIOL qualifications website.

Specialisation options

The Chartered Institute of Linguists offers different specialisation options for language professionals who choose to sit these exams. Translators sitting the CertTrans can select between business and public service translation skills (government-related documents).

Translators who sit the DipTrans, can currently choose between seven specialisations: technology, business, literature, science, social science, law and art and culture.

You can find out all about the options in our guides to the CertTrans qualification and the DipTrans qualification.

Join us now to be more successful as a translator!

Whether you need to work on your early career translation skills or whether you’re a seasoned translator, The Translator’s Studio is the best choice for learning the art of translation alongside true professional translators.

Do your free level test now or contact us for more information.

Written by Gwenydd Jones

Gwenydd Jones is a Spanish- and French-to-English translator, an SEO blogger and a course creator. She is the founder of The Translator's Studio and the lead teacher on its courses. Connect with Gwenydd on LinkedIn or contact her through this website.

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