Translating qualifications

Mon, 10/24/2016 - 18:50 Erika Baker

Translating qualifications

“Why did you not translate my Abitur as A ‘Levels”?

Because translating qualifications is fraught with difficulty.

Equivalence of school leaver’s qualifications

Qualifications are completely different in various countries, and although, colloquially, we tend to equate the top school qualification in one country with that of another.

In reality, German students take 9 subjects to A ‘Level, semi-specialising in 2 of them. English students only study 3-4 subjects. The International Baccalaureate is structured differently yet again.

Translators cannot know whether these qualifications are truly equivalent. We therefore leave your qualification in the original language and explain it. In this case, you have a Higher Education Entrance Qualification.

Equivalence of degrees

The same difficulty arises with degrees. The beloved German Dipl. Ing. is often said to equate to a Masters degree in Engineering. But the university system in Germany is still completely different from the German one.
I had an interesting conversation with my German niece last week who was astonished that people in Britain can get jobs after a BA without having to add a Masters, and that studying for a Masters would take one year, not two, as it usually does in Germany.
That suggests more rigour in German universities, but it could be that the course content is structured differently.
This is not something translators can know.

Certifying the equivalence of qualifications

Ultimately, it depends on the purpose of the translation. It you just want to show that you have a higher education qualification, “Masters in Engineering” would fit the bill. If you’re applying for a job and the company needs to know exactly if you’re qualified, calling it a Master’s may be over- or under selling yourself.
To obtain cast-iron confirmation of equivalence, you should contact the official authority that certifies the equivalence of qualifications in your country or in the country you need the translation for.

In Germany, this would be your local Zeugnisanerkennungsstelle, in Britain UK NARIC