There are many potential positive aspects underlying the idea of professional licensure of translators. The requirement of a professional license in order for oneself to work as a translator would firstly reduce the number of incompetent persons portraying themselves as translators regardless of training or experience. This would be a benefit to the industry as a whole by reducing the numbers of errors allowed to be passed through to the client; improving the fees we are capable of collecting for our services; and elevating our profession to a status that is as much respected and revered as those of doctors or lawyers.
Professional licensure would also provide an industry baseline for translation services throughout the world. If every person who wishes to practice as an officially recognized translator were to receive the same educational and testing requirements, then the industry would be better capable of regulating itself. The requirements for licensure would also create a new category of academia since the majority of those who would become responsible for the training and certification of new translators would reside primarily in educational institutions.
Although there are several positive aspects to the idea of required licensure of translation providers, there are also many negative aspects, not the least of which is the acceptance and recognition of a bureaucratic body responsible for overseeing the requirements necessary to confer and regulate the licenses within the industry. Do we, as an industry, wish to subject ourselves to regulation and oversight by a group of individuals who are perhaps not capable of performing the duties they are tasked with regulating?
Another drawback to the licensing argument is that it would create a situation where someone who is duly qualified and experienced to produce a legitimate and accurate translation may become prohibited from practicing their craft and exercising their talent and creativity due to administrative reasons. The effect of this on the industry would ultimately be the prohibition of many highly qualified translators from being able to accurately and effectively practice our skills and experience to the benefit of our clients. In the end, it would be the clients who suffer the most.
While there are many positive and negative points involved when evaluating the possibility of licensure within the translation industry, in the end every nation in existence has the obligation to evaluate both sides of the argument before formulating a solution that is mutually beneficial to both providers and clients alike.