Highly skilled professional translators and interpreters are not easily found in Bolivia. Although many people now offer these services, their skill levels vary.
VPO Bilingual Services
was one of the first formal translation and conference interpretation companies established in Bolivia, and is legally registered in Santa Cruz de la Sierra. Our company provides highly specialized translators with proven skills and years of experience. We do not train new translators and interpreters as we work only with professionals who have several years of demonstrated experience and have been highly recommended to us by their customers.
We feel it is important for you to know this as numerous new companies, testing organizations and certifying entities have been established in Bolivia, and dozens of new translators are offering their services. Several institutes are now offering courses to train and certify translators in a period of just a few months. Truly professional linguists, such as the translators and interpreters we work with, have many years of experience, superior writing, verbal and memory skills, the ability to localize text, do additional research, are trained and specialized in specific industries, may be certified by one or more international associations or agencies, and possess many other skills and degrees that simply cannot be acquired in 3-6 months. In short, being "bilingual" is not the only qualification required to become a translator or interpreter.
Consider the following before you hire
QUALIFICATIONS AND EXPERIENCE
Companies planning to use a translator or interpreter while in Bolivia, or anywhere else, should learn as much as possible about the background and qualifications of any person claiming to be one. For example, a translator such as the owner of VPO Bilingual Services, might provide you information similar to this:
I have been working as a professional English/Spanish-Spanish/English translator and conference interpreter for over 20 years. I was a registered U.S. Embassy translator in Santa Cruz for over 8 years and I own several businesses. I work primarily with the petroleum industry, forestry industry, attorneys, universities, government agencies, and international non-governmental organizations, especially in the areas of education, health, rights-based aid, and environmental conservation. I have also worked as a voice talent on commercials and documentaries, a public speaker and trainer, and have done over 5000 hours of simultaneous interpretation.
This is the minimum amount of information you should require from any translator or interpreter. You could also ask to see copies of their credentials or certifying entity, request they send you samples of documents they've translated, a list of the industries they specialize in, or letters of recommendation from other customers they've worked for.
It is also important to know how prices are negotiated. Most professional translators charge per word and interpreters charge per hour, full day or half day. Many are willing to be flexible, and they quote prices based on how difficult and technical your document is ("Dear John Letter" vs. "Hydrocarbons Law"), how urgently you need it done ("Take your time" vs. "I need it yesterday"), and/or how long it is.
Consider also, that if you need travel or immigration documents translated, most
embassies and consulates
accept translations ONLY from their official list of professionals, and will require you to have your documents done again by them, even if what you already have is well translated. It's worth asking first.
WORKING IN PAIRS OR TEAMS
Translators and interpreters often work in teams. If a translation project is long, and must be completed quickly, a team can be formed to take on the task. However, we have a word of advice for you: no two human beings speak or write with exactly the same vocabulary or style; therefore, it's always best if you take translation times into account when planning your own project deadlines. Long documents translated by a single person will retain a more consistent quality, than if split among many.
It is also customary for interpreters to work in pairs when providing conference interpretation services. Even if you only need interpretation for one or two people, you must take into consideration that simultaneous interpretation requires an exhausting degree of concentration. Interpreters must listen and speak at the same time and must keep up with the speed at which you are speaking. They cannot stop you, interrupt you, or ask you to repeat something. The amount of work they do will be the same whether it is for one person or one hundred. After 2-3 hours of continuous interpretation without a rest, your interpreter's concentration may fail.
In addition, by working in pairs, interpreters help each other out. It isn't uncommon for one interpreter to be rapidly researching vocabulary online while the other is interpreting. If your interpreter is alone, and has no back-up when they "draw a blank" on a specific word, or if you happen to use a word they are unfamiliar with, they could translate incorrectly, or find themselves forced to paraphrase. Working in pairs also ensures your work can continue uninterrupted if one of the interpreters needs to take a break, use the restroom, has a coughing or sneezing spell... Yes, it happens.
VPO's STANCE ON QUALITY
VPO works only with highly qualified translators and interpreters, many of them foreigners. We are so concerned with quality, that we continue to use them even if they have moved to another country. Some of them are just that good. Modern technology has made it possible for us to continue working with numerous team members in this way, to your benefit. Our customers are simply so satisfied with some, that they won't work with anyone else. We think that says a lot about the quality of our work. Meet the
translators we work with
and the owner of VPO.
YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR
Our services are not the least expensive in Bolivia and never will be. Our translators have worked long and hard to acquire the skill levels needed to offer the highest quality translations and simultaneous interpretation services available in Bolivia today. If we cannot make your deadline or do not have a translator or conference interpreter specialized in your field, we will not risk our reputation and will not offer you our services. It's that simple.