Pros and Cons of a CAT Tool Course

After being a freelance translator for nearly five years, I thought I had mastered the programs and computer tools that I needed to produce quality translations. I found CAT tools expensive and had even turned down projects, simply because they involved using a translation memory tool. Eventually, an offer came that was hard to ignore.

As an experienced translator, but a novice at using these kinds of tools, I decided to take a quick CAT tool course. Here are the pros and cons of such a course:


The tool is expensive and you get to know it before you decide to buy it. It costs almost as much as a translator could make in a month. Purchasing the tool is a decision that should be made once you have researched it well.

If you decide to buy it, know how to use it at full capacity. After the first few days of the course, I realized that this tool could help me significantly, but I felt desperate among the thousands of features I had no idea how to use.

Every beginner needs help with the settings. Don’t be afraid to seek it! CAT tools are not the easiest or most user-friendly programs. If they were, we wouldn’t need to take a course on how to use them. Once you learn to use them, however, they can be extremely useful.


The course is also expensive. Not only do the tools cost an arm and a leg, but the course itself also costs a significant amount of money.

Translation memory tools need at least a year to master. A one or two-week course will not grant you even 20% percent of the knowledge you need to use these specific tools to their full potential.

When a group of people is composed of many different levels of aptitude, things can get messy. Most of our class consisted of people with extensive translation experience who finally reached a point in their careers where they could benefit from translation memory tools. Still, there were also people who were new to the translation business, and they required more explanation and help. Try to enroll in courses where your peers are at a similar level of knowledge and experience.

You never know if a course can be useful until you start taking it. For example, a colleague recommended the course I took. She bought a CAT tool and later realized she has no idea how it worked. Since I respect her opinion, I figured this would be a smart move for me. Once I was already part of the class, another well-respected colleague of mine told me the class would be a waste of time.

Take all the pros and cons in this post, as well as your own list, into consideration, and decide whether or not a course on CAT tools is the right choice for you.