A Guide to the ATA Certification Program

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A Guide to the ATA Certification Program

ATA has established a certification program that allows translators to demonstrate that they meet certain standards of the translation profession. Translators who pass the examination are certified by ATA in a specific language pair and direction (from or into English). Certification is currently available

  • into English from Arabic, Chinese, Croatian, Danish, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, and Ukrainian.
  • from English into Arabic, Chinese, Croatian, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, and Ukrainian.

For a description of how these professional standards are understood by ATA, please see Introduction to the ATA Certification Examination. This document describes what the examination is testing for, what the examination consists of, and how it is evaluated.

Copies of the examination, identified only by code number, are sent to two graders. Graders mark errors on a scale of 1, 2, 4, 8, or 16 error points. (Up to 3 quality points may be subtracted from error points.) A passage with a final score of 18 or higher is marked Fail. Candidates who receive a Pass on both passages from both graders will receive certification. In cases where the graders disagree on the outcome, a third grader is asked to grade the passages in question. Candidates who fail the examination may apply for certification exam review.

The certification exam is challenging, with the current overall pass rate below 20%. To prepare for the exam, candidates are encouraged to take a practice test. Translating a typical passage and studying a grader’s feedback is helpful preparation for taking the examination.

Am I ready?
ATA certification is a mid-career credential for experienced, professional translators or interpreters.

Arrangements for taking a certification exam are made through ATA Headquarters. The fee of $525 includes all administrative and grading expenses. ATA Headquarters must receive registration with payment of $525 at least two weeks before the exam is administered. You must be a member prior to registering for an exam. It is advised that you join ATA at least four weeks before the exam date to allow time for paperwork to be processed.

Note: Each sitting has a maximum capacity, and exam sittings in major metropolitan areas frequently fill up weeks or months in advance.

Candidates will be given further information on the exam administrator and location once they have registered for an exam. To register, download and submit the Certification Registration Form.

No refunds will be made unless ATA Headquarters receives written notification of the candidate's withdrawal and request for refund prior to the exam date. All requests for refunds are subject to a $25 administrative fee. Requests should be sent to the Certification Program Manager.

Benefits of Certification
Certification offers qualified and independent evidence to both translator and client that the translator possesses professional competence in a specific language combination.

Passing the certification exam automatically converts an Associate membership to a Voting membership. Student members, who have paid discounted membership dues, must advance to Voting membership by paying the additional $110 in dues. Voting members are entitled to be listed as ATA-certified in the Directory of Translators and Interpreters. Only Voting members may vote in Association matters.

Certified translators may refer to their certification and are entitled to use the designation CT after their names in their résumés, business stationery, cards, and other related materials, provided they specify the language pair(s) and direction(s).