Not all language service providers are alike. Some focus on quality, some focus on price and others focus on speed.  While price and turnaround times are easy to compare, how do you know your language service provider is providing a quality translation? Having EN15038 certification is one way for you to know that your language service provider can offer quality translations.

EN15038 is a quality certification specific to the language services industry that guarantees an established process and a standardized approach.

History of EN15038:2006 Certification

CEN (the European Committee for Standardization) established EN 15038 certification in 2006, which clearly defines criteria for providing quality translations. This is the first international quality standard that is applied specifically to translation providers. EN15038 certification offers a reliable method of evaluating translation services and standardizes quality expectations for translations.

EN15038:2006 Defined

EN 15038:2006 is a rigid standard that is specific to the language services industry. The EN15038 standard introduces requirements for compliance with certain common procedures and monitors the specially developed processes for translation—from acceptance of an order to its delivery.

EN15038 certifies translation service and not process management as is the case with ISO9001 (we will talk more about ISO9001 in a future blog post).

3 Primary Requirements of EN15038 Certification

The primary elements of EN15038 certify project requirements, translator qualifications and independent personnel performing the various steps of translation, editing and proofreading. Here is a more in-depth look at those 3 requirements:

1. Qualified Translators.

EN15038 guarantees that translators are qualified to translate to the materials. Under EN15038 translators must have mastery of both the source and target language, and be able to translate to the level of the target audience in terms of terminology, grammar, style, and culture. Translators must be competent in performing research to learn about the subject matter as needed, and be able to use the tools (software, etc.) needed to perform the translation. Also, under EN15038, translators must have a degree or equivalent experience and two years translation experience or without a degree at least five years experience in translation.

2. A minimum of two separate people performing translation and editing.

As a minimum requirement under EN15038 certification translations must involve at least two separate people performing translation and editing (or review). Some language service providers go a step further than this standard and have a third person proof all translations. Top translation providers have a minimum of three independent linguists looking at each translation to guarantee the highest quality. EN15038 ensures that multiple qualified translators are involved with your translation project.

3. Documented procedures.

Among the requirements to be EN15038 certified are documented procedures for client contact and quality assurance. EN15038 certification also focuses on core translation processes including commissioning, translation, proofreading, review, project management, quality control, traceability and delivery project assignment, use of technical resources, pre-translating process, source text analysis, terminology work and the style guide. Under EN15038, a language service provider must have documented procedures for performing the translation.

Independent Versus Self Certification

While many organizations self-certify, the best language service providers independently certify through an outside agency (such as TŰV SŰD) to ensure the highest quality standards are maintained.

TŰV SŰD is recognized worldwide as a premiere compliance body. TŰV SŰD performs meticulous onsite audits to ensure compliance with EN 15038 quality standards and then continues to randomly review the language service provider at least once a year.

While there are no guarantees when it comes to translation quality, selecting a language service provider that is EN15038 certified provides an additional standard by which to judge translation. EN15038 is an objective metric to measure the translation quality of your language service provider.

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