Translation in Technical Documentation

What requirements must translators fulfill in order to satisfy increasing quality standards in technical documentation?

The standard accepted worldwide for technical documentation, IEC 82079-1:2012 "Preparation of instructions for use", sets high quality requirements for translation and the relevant personnel. According to this, instructions for use must be delivered in the official language of the country of purchase. Likewise, persons active as translators of instructions for use should have the following competences:

  • Basic communication competences in technical documentation
  • Experience with technical matters and familiarity in the field translated
  • Mastery of the source and target languages of the instructions for use, preferably native speakers in the target language

Which additional skills are necessary here for translators specifically? We can safely regard a part of the competence requirements for technical communicators as a profile template:

  • Be familiar with legal and normative requirements for instructions for use
  • Be able to implement requirements for instructions for use
  • Understand typical processes and tools of technical documentation
  • Have mastery of current structuring and writing standards

Activity as a translator is not formally regulated. Translator qualifications can be validated with diplomas and degrees in linguistic studies and state examinations. Technical translators, moreover, have qualifications in special fields. How can translators prove their knowledge in the area of technical documentation? Fundamentally, expert knowledge can be proven through pertinent professional experience and expertise. A more transparent way is to have one’s qualifications certified with a certificate.