CPD for Professional Linguists — Why It Matters

CPD (continuing professional development, or sometimes continual professional development) is a hot topic in the world of professional translation at the moment – and quite right too.

So, what is CPD and why is it important? CPD is the means to keep up with extending your skills, competencies and knowledge (quoting the Chartered Institute of Linguists) and a means to engage in and commit to training and development as part of professional working life (from the Institute of Translation and Interpreting).

Added to that, it is a way for younger linguists to keep that structured learning going after university — and for all of us more experienced linguists, it is one way of keeping that passion for language alive.

It is interesting to compare linguists with regulated professions – doctors, architects, accountants etc — who are compelled to complete a certain number of hours of CPD per year. Whilst we are not (yet) compelled to do our CPD in order to practise our craft, I would argue that it is equally important.

Continuing professional development: views from translators

For a recent talk to students on the MA in Translation course at Cardiff University, I conducted a brief survey of our freelance translators on the topic of their CPD. All found the CPD process invaluable and there was a great variety of ways to do it — from individual research to formal training to mentoring those entering the profession.

But the informal comments were maybe even more telling: “It is crucial for me to have up-to-date knowledge of these expanding fields to demonstrate to my clients that I (still) know what I’m talking about.” On a different tack, the following is a comment that I very much empathise with and would argue that CPD is a big part of: “I do feel exceptionally fortunate that I found a career that has suited me very well for so many years.

So, what is the killer argument for younger professional translators to keep up to date with their CPD? Based on the questions that I received from the MA students, the marketing benefits must not be overlooked. Bluntly, being able to formally demonstrate that you are a serious professional with a proven CPD record and/or a Chartered Linguist will be a great help when marketing your services or looking for a job.

But I still think it boils down to nurturing that passion for language!

Mark Robinson MCIL, Chartered Linguist – adapted from a talk to the students of the MA in Translation course at Cardiff University in March 2021.