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
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.
ATA is working to make keyboarded examinations possible, but no certain date has been set at which this change from handwritten examinations will take place. For the time being, no electronic equipment of any kind is permitted in the examination room. At the certification exam sitting, an exception is made for disabled persons, who may write their examination on a non-memory typewriter.
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.
Individuals who are ATA members and meet our eligibility requirements may take a certification examination. Once awarded, certification remains valid only as long as the translator remains a member of ATA in good standing and fulfills the continuing education requirements.
Arrangements for taking a certification exam are made through ATA Headquarters. The fee of $300 includes all administrative and grading expenses. Candidates must provide proof that they meet the eligibility requirements. They may register for an exam at the same time they apply for membership. ATA Headquarters must receive a completed registration form with payment of $300 at least two weeks before the exam is administered.
Late registration may be possible depending on space availability and whether exams can be delivered in time. Eligible candidates may register by paying an additional late fee for a total of $345.
Warning: each sitting has a maximum capacity and exam sittings in major metropolitan areas frequently fill up weeks or months in advance.
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 $80 in dues. Voting members are entitled to be listed as ATA-certified in the Directory of Translation and Interpreting Services. 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).