Do you have a CPD plan?
Claire Cox explains how making a proper plan for your continuing professional development makes all the difference between good intentions and reality.
In the 2020/21 membership year, only 22% of ITI members logged the recommended 30 hours of continuing professional development (CPD) using the ITI online logging tool. Although the number is slowly rising each year, that’s still only just over 700 members out of a total of over 3,000.
Admittedly, some members may be doing their CPD, though not logging it in the online tool, but it’s hard to justify (or indeed remember) if you don’t record it for posterity. Undoubtedly, others may well have good intentions, but end up doing the odd webinar when one crops up at a quiet moment. And some may claim that they are constantly doing CPD because they’re carrying out research for their work - but that’s not what CPD is all about.
Begin at the beginning
It’s far better to take stock at the beginning of the year - whether you decide that’s the calendar year, after the Christmas break when work can be thin on the ground, or at the start of a new membership year. Think about where you’d like to improve in the coming year, or about your individual strengths and weaknesses, just as if you were preparing for a job appraisal.
Think about where you’d like to improve in the coming year, or about your individual strengths and weaknesses, just as if you were preparing for a job appraisal.
As you can see, there are many and varied ways of achieving your CPD target. Some do cost quite a lot of money, but if you can find the cash, they’re still worth considering because money invested in professional CPD is rarely wasted.
One way to maximise a small budget can be to set your sights on one good-value event for the coming year. That might be a conference, or a course such as ITI’s Setting Up as a Freelance Translator, or Advancing your Freelance Translation Career. Not only will you learn from acknowledged experts in the field, you will also meet like-minded colleagues and tutors - and in our industry, who you know can be just as important as what you know. People tend to refer clients to colleagues they know and trust; if you make a favourable impression, that’s another good investment.
If you really are strapped for cash (and at the moment many people are), look at what else is on offer. Have you joined your regional or language network, for example? Could you get more involved by joining the committee or helping organise an event? Could you suggest a local meetup or co-working session? Some of these are on hold at the time of writing, but there are also online and virtual options.
Don’t forget that ITI puts on a range of webinars, free to members, or available at a small charge to non-members, on a variety of topics from pensions to GDPR to working with the EU. MOOCs (massive open online courses) are free courses in a huge range of subjects if you fancy furthering your specialist knowledge in a specific area.
Record - and then review
The most important thing to remember is that not only do you need to seize and record these CPD opportunities but also to review after the event how effective they’ve been. This may sound arduous, but often what you learn can be eye-opening, meaning that you find yourself working in a totally different way without even trying.
A writing or style workshop, for example, can make you question the way you work and see your writing in a whole new and more critical light. A CAT tool workshop may reveal any number of small tips and tricks that revolutionise the way you translate, making you more productive, efficient or consistent. Meeting colleagues at networking events may lead to new clients, revisers, or merely a sympathetic and understanding ear - not to be sniffed at when you generally work alone. And writing the event up afterwards is always an excellent way of taking stock - and it’s something you can then share with the Bulletin or your local association newsletter.
By expanding your horizons in any of a myriad of ways, you are undoubtedly developing your skills as a professional translator and also looking at the profession, and the wider world, with different eyes. So what have you got planned for the coming year’s CPD?
This article first appeared as the cover article in the May-June 2020 edition of the ITI Bulletin. It has subsequently been updated in January 2022.
About the writer
Claire Cox FITI translates from French and German into English. She works primarily in the fields of energy, nuclear technology and health and safety, but has a soft spot for translations in the fields of food and horticulture too. She is on the ITI board and in the past has also served as a member of the ITI CPD Committe.