Opening the Certification Exam to Nonmembers: A New Direction for ATA

One of ATA’s strengths is, undoubtedly, stability. While many professional associations have struggled to remain relevant in the 21st century, we’re thrilled that ATA is on solid financial footing. This stability has allowed us to pursue several “capital improvement” projects, such as a fully redesigned website—hopefully to go live before our Palm Springs conference—and an association management system—a piece of backend software that will streamline our membership management and accounting processes.

At the same time, we must evolve to remain relevant. This doesn’t mean changing for the sake of changing. It means we need to change in ways that allow us to better serve you, our members, and to better serve the language professions as a whole. ATA will take a major step forward when, on January 1, 2020, we open ATA’s certification exam to nonmembers, meaning that anyone who wants to earn the ATA-Certified Translator (CT) designation can take our exam, regardless of whether they are an ATA member. Likewise, our members who are currently certified will have the option of letting their ATA membership lapse while still retaining their CT designation.

The ATA Board feels that this change will be a positive one, for several reasons:

  • The CT designation will gain recognition and prestige when it is open to anyone, rather than being seen as an ATA membership credential.
  • Opening the exam to nonmembers will allow us to promote the benefits of ATA membership to nonmembers who take the exam, hopefully bringing them into the ATA fold.
  • Planning for this change has forced those of us on ATA’s Board to really think through the benefits of ATA membership and how to promote them. We think that every ATA member should be a member because they choose to be, not because they are required to be.

I’m very grateful to the team that is helping to prepare for this major shift: our highly capable Treasurer John Milan has run various financial projections; Certification Committee Chair David Stephenson and his committee are preparing our exam graders for what we hope will be an increased volume of certification exams; Membership Committee Chair Madalena Sánchez Zampaulo and her committee are working on boosting our membership recruitment and retention efforts; Public Relations Chair Eve Lindemuth Bodeux and her committee are continuing their work to spread the word about the value of professional translators and interpreters in the business world; and our tireless staff at ATA Headquarters are putting various plans in place, including working with a membership marketing firm to recruit new members and reach out to lapsed members.

I’m excited about this new direction for ATA, and we eagerly await the first exam sittings at which nonmembers will be welcomed!

1 Responses to "Opening the Certification Exam to Nonmembers: A New Direction for ATA"

  1. Enrique ------ de Miranda says:

    One of the most imperative changes needed is, in my opinion and surely in that of many others, to make available the Certifying Test on-line. Government departments and many universities allow on-line grading tests. No question they had to face the same doubts and difficulties ATA faces before taking that most needed step, and they found a way to overcome those difficulties. ATA members who are not certified yet are in a very disadvantageous situation, as they cannot compete with the certified members. ATA makes that difference even more harmful for non-certified members when they show two different kind of members and make clear the advantage of selecting certified members. Having to wait sometimes for years to have the opportunity to sit for an exam, non-certified members face a sort of discrimination as they are paying their dues as the certified members do but cannot enjoy the same opportunities the certified members enjoy. No doubt this situation prevents non-certified members from doing business with potential clients. I also believe that ATA members who have not had the opportunity to take an exam should be given preference to do it before your planned acceptance of non-members for taking the exam. If non-members can take the seat of a member for being certified, while a member must wait years for such an opportunity, what is the real benefit of membership?

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