expert translators and interpreters

Have you ever heard of “expert” or “sworn” translators and interpreters? In this article, we take a closer look at these professions.

What is a sworn translator?

A sworn translator, also known as an expert translator, is a translator who can certify a translation by signing it. By doing so, he or she renders the translation legitimate in the eyes of the law. The sworn translator is therefore the person who is called upon to translate official documents, such as a driver’s license or birth certificate. The sworn translator in France is approved by the Court of Cassation or by a Court of Appeal. He or she is therefore qualified as an expert witness, and can be called upon for their expertise by a judge, a public prosecutor, or the police in the course of administering justice.

What’s the difference between a sworn translator and a sworn interpreter?

It is important not to confuse a translator with an interpreter. Unlike a sworn translator, a sworn interpreter does not work with the written word, but with the spoken word. However, as in the case of a sworn translator, a sworn interpreter’s work is recognized by the law. Sworn interpreters are therefore often called upon for legal proceedings, hearings, depositions, international marriages, immigration interviews, and other events where precise communication in different languages is crucial.

How do I become a sworn translator or interpreter?

First of all, if you are thinking of becoming a sworn translator or interpreter, you need to have an excellent command of the languages you want to work with. So, even if it is not a prerequisite, it is generally advised to have a master’s degree in a foreign language, translation, or a related field. Likewise, if you are just starting out as a translator or interpreter, you should wait until you have gained several years of experience before applying to become an expert witness.

To be appointed and listed as a sworn translator or interpreter by a Court of Appeal, you need to submit an application to the public prosecutor at your local courthouse. Following this, the police will conduct a “character investigation” and your file can be forwarded to the corresponding Court of Appeal. If your file is accepted by the latter, you will be summoned for a solemn oath-taking ceremony, and you will be appointed for an initial period of three years, renewable every five years thereafter.

Do I have what it takes?

Here is a small selection of the essential qualities required to work as a sworn translator or interpreter:

  • Confidentiality: The ability to handle confidential information with discretion is essential.
  • Integrity: Acting ethically and honestly, avoiding bias or distortion in translation.
  • Flexibility: Ability to adapt to different contexts, subjects and interlocutors in a fluid manner.
  • Thoroughness: Pay close attention to detail to ensure accuracy in every translation.
  • Cultural empathy: Understand and respect cultural subtleties, because translation is more than just words.
  • Neutrality: Maintain professional objectivity, avoiding personal judgment or influence.
  • Emotional stability: Ability to manage stress and emotional pressures, especially during events such as trials.
  • Intellectual curiosity: Possess a thirst for knowledge and a constant willingness to learn in order to remain an expert in your languages and fields of specialization.
  • Communication skills: Excellent communication skills in both source and target languages.
  • Commitment to excellence: Continuously strive to improve the quality of work and deliver translations and interpretations of the highest standard.

Can I only work as a sworn translator or interpreter?

The job of a sworn translator or interpreter is not meant to be a full-time profession and should not represent your main source of income.

With ApexTra, you can benefit from the services of a sworn translator and interpreter in English and French. Contact us today if you need our help.