Translator's Guide

How to Become a Certified Translator

In the translation industry, there are many factors that determine the minimum price rate of translator’s work such as language pair, years of experience, and certification. If the first two cannot be influenced with ease in a short period of time, the last one is a good option to consider in order to increase one’s earnings. Certification is what always gets attention in a CV and instills confidence in one’s professional skills. Of course, it is not necessary but this is a good bonus that can make a translator more competitive on the market.

Benefits of Having Certification 

In college or university, every graduate in the field of translation receives the same diploma. However, it does not mean that everyone is equally proficient. After one or two negative experiences clients become more attentive in their selection of a translator to hire and in order to stand out a beginner can get certified. Of course, it has its price, however, there are still many benefits from having a certification:

  • Competitive advantage

On many freelance platforms such as Upwork or Fiverr that are often used to look for language professionals, it is hard not to look mainstream. With certification, one can attract clients better because it demonstrates the acknowledged level of professionalism.

  • Extra training

When getting ready for a certification exam one spends extra time preparing, learning, training, and perfecting one’s skills. It is never enough to learn and there is always room for improvement.

  • Boosting one’s confidence

What is the most valuable is the confidence one gets in their own professionalism once certified, which can be especially important for beginners. A certificate is an expert opinion about the quality of one’s work that can motivate and inspire.

  • Gaining credibility

Working with clients as an individual contractor is always about trust. If one does not have much positive feedback from clients, a certificate can help to convince the potential ones that they deal with a true professional.

  • Wider clientele

Many employers tend to trust only renowned databases when searching for a translator. If certified with the American Translators Association (ATA), a translator is included in the organization’s Directory of Translators and Interpreters where potential clients can filter the members by the ATA-certified feature.

The process of becoming a certified translator involves several important steps. The first thing to do is to decide what certificate to get. Since there are several options, it is better to study them carefully and consider all variants weighing all the pros and cons including the price and the purpose. After making the final decision one needs to apply for certification. After its approval one needs to pay the fee. Once the payment is done, the next step is the preparation for the exam. Even if one is confident in their skills it is still better to refresh memory and get some training in order to ensure 100% readiness. Different certificates have their own exam procedures but typically it is a timed proctored exam or a series of tests. So it is important to think of the availability to take the test in advance and make sure that no other important events are about to take place several days before it in order to get prepared and be focused. 

Ways of Becoming Certified as a Translator 

There are several ways to get the certification for a translator. Each of them depends on the actual needs and the sector in which one wants to pursue a career. The three most popular options are:

ATA certification is designed to determine whether a candidate translator is able to provide quality work in accordance with the Translation Instructions framework. The certificate ensures that its holder provides accurate style-specific translation with good flow and fully understands the content of the text while also complying with all grammar and spelling rules of the original and target language.

Providing quality translation and interpreting assistance in the legal domain is extremely important. In order to make sure that language professionals in the legal sector have the necessary skill level to provide quality service, the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators have designed a certification program for judiciary interpreters and translators.

It is the most prestigious credential in the field of medical translation and interpreting. The certificate demonstrates one’s field knowledge, adherence to ethical standards in the field, medical terminology as well as role boundaries, and other required competencies. It is available for 6 languages that include Spanish, Cantonese, Simplified Chinese (Mandarin), Vietnamese, Korean, and Russian.

How to Become a Certified Translator Online with ATA

ATA certificate is often considered the best choice for the majority of translators. Although it is more expensive than CMI, it is not limited to one specific domain. In order to apply for a certificate, one needs to be a current member of ATA (the organization advises to become a member at least four weeks prior to the date of examination test). The application for the certification is done on ATA’s website where one downloads and then submits the required form. The fee of US$ 525 should be fully paid at least two weeks before the exam. One should also note that in metropolitan areas the nearest dates for the exam are booked several weeks or even months in advance. To assess one’s level one can also try a practice test by ATA which can serve as a good preparation for the exam that can be purchased on ATA’s website. After the test, the results are processed for about fifteen weeks but sometimes it can also take longer due to heavy workload.

Of course, a certificate is not a guarantee for success. There is no test that is able to assess one’s likelihood to earn good money and enjoy their work in the translation field. The tests for a certificate are not easy to pass and the majority of candidates will not be able to do it from the first attempt. Many view a certificate as an achievement, a goal to reach. However, it should be viewed as an acknowledgment of the professional level already attained.