Frequently Asked Questions

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Eligibility Requirements

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: If I am currently certified by ATA, do I need to provide proof of my education and experience before I can take the test in another language pair?
A: No, if your ATA membership and certification are current, you do not need to provide this additional documentation and the verification fee is waived.

Q: I didn’t think that there were any requirements to take the ATA certification examination, aside from ATA membership and the exam fee. When did this requirement start?
A: The ATA Board and the Certification Committee studied ways to strengthen the certification credential for several years. In the spring of 2001 they approved a plan to establish eligibility requirements related to education and experience. In March of 2003 they implemented the requirements, to begin with the first exam sittings in 2004.

Q: Why are these requirements necessary?
A: The ATA exam is intended for experienced translators with a high level of education, but our previous policies made the test available to all. That mismatch was not fair to candidates. Appropriate education and experience requirements establish a realistic expectation about the level of the examination.

Q: How early will I need to submit these documents?
A: Organizing and verifying these documents will take longer than our current process.  You should submit everything at least four weeks prior to an exam sitting. 

Q: Can I send in individual pieces of the required information as I gather them?

A: No, a candidate must organize all required materials and submit them together. They can be submitted before the exam registration or along with the exam registration. Incomplete documentation will be returned.  Exam registrations will not be processed until eligibility has been approved.

Q: Why must the proof of education and experience be translated into English?
A: ATA does not employ translators or have translators on staff.  In order for us to verify your information in a timely manner, all material must be in English or a copy of the original documents must be accompanied by an English translation.

Q: I have an advanced degree but no experience working as a professional translator. Do I still qualify?
A: No, the examination is designed for someone with a significant amount of experience working as a professional translator. It will be very difficult to pass the examination without that experience. If you do not have that experience, it would be a very good idea to attempt a practice test first to get an indication of how you might perform on the examination.

Q: What constitutes a year of experience?
A: A year of experience is defined as a full year of full-time work or the equivalent in part-time work.

Q: Is there a fee for processing eligibility documentation?
A: Yes, there is a nonrefundable $35 verification fee. 

Q: What is the actual process?
A: Candidates submit their membership application (if needed), their exam registration form, the nonrefundable $35 verification fee and the $300 exam fee at the same time. The membership will be processed, but the exam registration fee will be held in “pending” and not processed or deposited until the candidate meets the prerequisites fully. If the candidate fails to meet these standards, the exam fee will be returned, but the verification fee will not.  

Q: Can I establish eligibility now and take the exam at a later date?
A: Yes, you can submit your documentation with the verification fee early, but you must include a letter stating those intentions. Your submission, if verified, will be saved in our database.

Q: If I was once certified but I let it lapse with my membership, do I need to meet these requirements?
A: ATA certification is valid as long as membership is maintained and continuing education requirements are met. If you let your membership lapse for more than three years, you will need to apply for Active Membership Review and then have your certification restored. If your membership lapsed for less than three years, you need to rejoin ATA in order to have your certification restored.   In either case, you also need to fulfill the continuing education requirements to have your certification restored.

Q: If I have been approved for voting membership through Membership Review, does that mean I am eligible to take the examination?
A: No, the documentation and requirements for Active Membership Review differ from the prerequisites to take the examination.

Q: Where can I find this list of approved Translation and Interpreting (T&I) programs?
A: The most up-to-date list is on the ATA website.

Q: What if my T&I program is not on the approved list?
A: We have compiled as complete a list of approved T&I programs as possible. However, we recognize that new programs will be developed over time while other programs will be discontinued. Any program not currently on the list would have to be reviewed and approved by ATA’s Education and Pedagogy Committee. Please understand that this work is done by volunteers and takes time. You must plan ahead and allow at least four weeks when applying for approval of a program. 

To request the addition of a T&I program to the ATA-approved list, you must submit the following information:

  • Name of program
  • Address of program
  • Phone number of program
  • Email address of program
  • Contact person (if known)

Thank you for your interest. If you have any questions or comments, please contact ATA Headquarters by phone: (703) 683-6100, fax: (703) 683-6122, or email the Certification Program Manager.