The only regulated profession that requires a degree in Spain is the court interpreter. The other professions can be practised by anyone.
It’s obvious that the different specialities are not valued the same way. In Denmark, for instance, literary translator’s wages are less than a third of other specialised translators. And there are some prejudices even within the translators and interpreters’ community; therefore internal respect should be addressed before tackling the outer world.
On the other side, regulation one only speciality—as in Spain—or none—as in most countries—pushes professional intrusion into the background as a merely ethical concept. If that’s the case, quality is the only way to ensure good conditions in a tough market.
Quality depends on client satisfaction, organisation of the process, results and constant improvement. The objective quality of a translation depends on fidelity to the original content and message and the lack of mistakes, inconsistency or nonsense. To ensure this quality, translators must negotiate wages, deadlines and conditions with the clients. When an original is received, it has to be analysed thoroughly in order to provide a translation that’s correct in every aspect (language, content, style, format…), which should also be revised and corrected. Translators should keep a copy of their work and use all the contents and data derived from it for future projects.
Lay people surely ignore the complexity and even the existence of these factors and, of course, don’t have the knowledge to optimize them. However, clients might ignore them as much as non-professional translators and interpreters; fact that enhances the spiral of poorly delivered product and bad conditions that ravages the profession.BAKER, Mona. Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies. Routledge: London, 1998.
Asociación Aragonesa de Traductores e Intérpretes. Guía de calidad en la traducción. 2009. [consulted: October 2013]