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Certified translations of education certificates from abroad: more than just a “stamp”

Professional qualifications acquired abroad are assessed by means of particular procedure, before they can be deemed equivalent to professions protected by German law. Such procedures take place on the Bundesland level and are therefore conducted by various authorities depending on the region. For instance, in the State of Hesse it is staatliche Schulämter (State Education Authorities) that are responsible for the recognition of educational certificates from foreign secondary and vocational school institutions. As well as an an officially certified copy of the original education certificate, a transcript detailing courses attended and grades received, and a table-format CV, candidates must submit translations of their educational certificates into German. In each case, translations must be certified by a sworn-in translator chartered to work for German courts and notaries.

Choosing a certified translator should not be left to Lady Luck but rather be the result of a well-thought through decision. The price should certainly not be the main priority. The cheaper the price, usually, the lesser the quality. Ideally, you should employ the services of a professional translator with several years of experience to translate your school certificates who will not just complete this sensitive task in 10 minutes, but deal thoroughly with each and every document. In practice, this means that the course names listed on your certificate ought to be well-researched. The quality of translation of a school certificate is only guaranteed when terms used in the translation have any meaning in German. To take an example, it is wise avoiding translating literally into German the university course “Food Industry Engineering” as “Lebensmittelindustrie-Ingenieurwissenschaft”, but rather as “Lebensmitteltechnologie”. This is a fixed term in German language which reflects exactly the content of the English term. This would, however, only be apparent to someone who had taken the time to research the terminology, using a variety of sources and dictionaries.

The same goes for differences between various school systems which should be taken into consideration, and which sometimes make descriptive rather than literal translating and/or addition of footnotes necessary. This requires a great deal of engagement with the work, specialist knowledge, professionalism and a time-consuming terminology search. These qualities are not usually found amongst half-hearted, part-time translators. What use is a translation of your German secondary school certificate for the incredible price of €20 with a headline displaying nothing more than “Abitur Certificate”, which no American or British reader would comprehend? Comprehension and purpose should always be considered. Therefore, a translation saying „Certificate confirming the attainment of the general academic standard required for admission to a university“ would be more appropriate, despite its awkward wording. Such a translation describes exactly the qualification and is exactly the translation you need.