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How To Become a Certified Translator

Do you want to increase your credibility as a translator? One way you can do that is by getting certified. As a certified translator, you’ll have something to show current or potential clients that you’re competent enough to translate from one language into another, making you more credible.

As a new translator, you may be asking how can you become a certified translator, is it necessary, how will a certification help your professional translation business, etc. In this article, I will answer three of your questions.

1. Is It Necessary to Be Certified as a Translator?

This is a question that has divided the translation industry into two. One group believes for you to be considered a professional translator, and to succeed in your career you need to be certified. They argue that certification makes the best paying clients hire you because they trust you enough to do their translations.

Those who deem certification as a waste of time believe whether you succeed or fail as a professional translator has nothing to do with whether you’re certified or not. For them, factors such as the time you invest in your translation business, the quality of your translations, how you relate with your clients, etc. are what makes you grow as a translator. This side has gone as far as saying those that offer translation certification are only out to take your hard-earned money with expensive certification courses that have no proven tangible benefits.

What is my take on this whole debate? I will be honest with you, in many countries, you don’t have to be a certified translator to work. But like in any other career, having a certificate in the area you practice looks good on your resume, so I don’t see why you should not get certified as a translator if you can afford it. And, despite what those opposed to certification say there are some benefits to becoming a certified translator.

2. What Are the Benefits of Being Certified as a Translator?

When you get certified you’ll be proving as a professional translator you’re competent to offer your services, and you could reap big as a certified translator. Here is how:

New business opportunities

There is no guarantee that you’ll get translation jobs as a certified translator, but having this qualification could open doors for you. For example, professional translation companies often look to see if a translator who wants to work for them is certified. So with your certification, you’ll definitely have an advantage over other translators who have no certification. 

Think about it: If you’re looking for a translator and two people applied for the job with similar qualifications, and experience but one of was a certified translator, and the other was not who would you hire? I think the answer is rather obvious.

Also when you get certified, some of the organizations that offer the certification, list you on their website directory. This listing ensures that potential customers looking for translation services can find you and get your contact details. This is a move that can unlock a lot more business for your professional translation company.

Higher salaries

Not only can you get more clients for your business, but with a certification, you can also charge them more. As a certified translator, you should demand higher rates than the regular freelance translator. Clients are often willing to pay more because you’re in a position to offer them highly accurate and error-free translations.

3. Where Can You Get Certified as a Translator?

There are many organizations that offer certifications for translators in different parts of the world. The best way to know which organization can certify you is by doing quick internet research to find organizations that can certify you in your area. For example, if you’re a translator in the United States the American Translators Association (ATA) is well known for its translator’s certification program.

For you to be certified by ATA you have to take several exams and prove you have 3-5 years experience as a translator. Before you’re allowed to do the exams you have to be a member of ATA. The membership cost is $195 while the exam fee is $525. When you take the exams you’ll be tested on source language comprehension, writing in the translation language, translation techniques, quality and accuracy of translations, etc. If you pass the exams you’ll be awarded the ATA translator certificate and listed on their website as a certified translator.

Currently, ATA offers certification for translation of these languages to English: Arabic, Croatian, Danish, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Swedish. Languages you can get certification for translation from English include: Dutch, Chinese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Portuguese, Polish, Croatian, French, German, Italian, Japanese and Ukrainian.

If you are outside the U.S, it is possible for you to get an ATA certification. The organization offers its exam several times a year to translators in Canada, Mexico, South America and Europe. 

The American Translators Association, however, is just one of the popular organizations offering translation certifications. Others include:

  • The International Medical Translators Association, for those who want to be certified medical translators.
  • National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators and The American Language Translation Association for certified legal translation courses.
  • Many universities also provide professional certifications in translation.

As I said before, to find out about translation certification programs online or near you start by doing research online. I’m sure you’ll find many online translation programs that award certificates upon completion. Be sure to choose one that is credible, affordable, convenient for you and one that you meet all the requirements needed to be certified by them.


Getting certified is not easy, actually a lot of translators who attempt to do so fail at the first attempt. But don’t despair, it will cost you time, money and effort, however, once you get certified you will have a competitive advantage over other translators, and set yourself up for new possibilities in you translations career.

Therefore, I recommend that you consider getting certified as a translator, it will be worth the effort!

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