What is the American Translators Association?

Founded in 1959, ATA is the largest professional association of translators and interpreters in the world with thousands of language experts in more than 100 countries.  ATA’s mission is to promote the recognition of professional translators and interpreters, to facilitate communication among its members, to establish standards of competence and ethics, to provide its members with professional development opportunities, and to advocate on behalf of the profession.


What’s the difference between a translator and an interpreter?

Translators write. Interpreters speak. Both convert information from one language (and culture) into another.


Everybody speaks English now. Why do I need to hire an interpreter or translator?

Only 17% of the world’s population speaks English natively. Non-native speakers can easily misunderstand the fine points of your message or miss them completely.


Why can't someone who knows the language do the translation or interpreting?

Knowing two languages doesn’t make you a translator or interpreter—just like knowing how to sing doesn’t make you ready for the opera. Professional translators and interpreters can transfer complex ideas—technical, legal, financial, and more—accurately between two languages and cultures.


Why should I hire a professional translator or interpreter?

Mistakes can be costly and embarrassing. Getting your message wrong can cost money, ruin your image, and even cost lives. Whether you’re having a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign translated or need an interpreter to communicate treatment options between a doctor and patient, it pays to hire professional translators and interpreters to get a job done right the first time. Learn more


How do I find a professional translator or interpreter?

It’s easy. The American Translators Association can help you find the right translator or interpreter for your needs in the Language Services Directory.


Can’t I just use a free online translation tool?

The short answer is, “No.” A computer simply cannot comprehend all the nuances of language. It cannot interpret the meaning of a text. It can only read the words and translate them based on dictionaries or other algorithms.


Who uses machine translation (MT)?

Its primary users are professional translators, government agencies, and large businesses that have invested in proprietary systems, rather than free online tools. These systems have been trained on specific data and configured to their precise specifications. Learn more


How much does translation and interpreting cost?

Since costs vary considerably by language, subject, and deadline, it’s a lot like asking “How much does it cost for an accountant to do my taxes?” Translators charge by the word, by the hour, by the page, and per project, depending on the text. Interpreters charge for their time—they may have hourly, half-day, or full-day or even weekly rates.


Is there any way to reduce translation costs?

Finalize your text before translation begins, make sure your translator knows the purpose of your text, and stay involved. Take just a few minutes to talk to your translator or project manager, and you’ll save money as well as stress.


What is a certified translator?

ATA certifies translators and confers the CT (“Certified Translator”) designation. An ATA-certified translator:


What is a certified or credentialed interpreter?

Interpreters are certified or credentialed by courts and other entities for specific practice areas, such as law and medicine. ATA does not certify interpreters, but you can search specifically for credentialed interpreters in the Language Services Directory.


How big is the language services market?

Some estimates project that the market will reach $37 billion globally by 2018, however, this does not account for all sectors. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics expects demand for translators and interpreters to grow 46% between 2012 and 2022—well above the average of other professions.

Media Inquiries

Contact ATA for industry insights and responses to current affairs involving the translation and interpreting professions.

Kelli C. Baxter
ATA Executive Director
+1-703-683-6100 ext. 3010

Can I afford to hire a professional?

You can’t afford NOT to. Poor translation and interpreting services can be disastrous for your business. See what’s at stake.

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What's the difference?

Translators do the writing. Interpreters do the talking. ATA helps you find the right language professional.

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