How to Become a Certified Translator Online

become certified by the ATA

Becoming a certified translator is a lucrative option. We have written on many of the aspects of working as a translator in various posts. This page will explain, in detail, how to become a certified translator online. There are three ways to becoming a certified translator, and Universal Translation Services took the most important one and explained in detail for your understanding. The three ways of becoming certified as a translator are as follows:

Getting Certified by the American Translators Association (ATA) – for written translations

Getting Certified by the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators (NAJIT) – for court and legal translations

Getting Certified by the National Board of Certified Medical Interpreters (CMI) – for medical interpretation

There are many benefits if you can get certified as a translator and the best way to go remains the first option. The other two associations in the list are more referring to becoming certified as an interpreter.

While becoming a member of the ATA is a good idea for a translator, it is a rather complicated procedure where 3 tests are involved and proven record of at least 5 years of previous experience as a translator is required. What you get is the ATA certification as a translator, your own member id and a listing on their website, which is well-worth the effort in the long run.

Great Idea

TIP: Click here to for The Guide to the ATA Certification Program

A point worth noting: if you intend to provide USCIS translation for people looking to immigrate to the US, you don’t have to be certified. Since certified translation is not regulated in the US, any translator can provide certified translation, considering he knows how to do the actual translation and the certificate of accuracy.

If you’re working with us as a freelance translator, you only need to translate, we will take care of the certificate of accuracy and we will sign and stamp it as a company which is member of the ATA.

Click here to for The Guide to the ATA Certification Program A point worth noting: if you intend to provide USCIS translation for people looking to immigrate to the US, you don’t have to be certified. Since certified translation is not regulated in the US, any translator can provide certified translation, considering he knows how to do the actual translation and the certificate of accuracy. If they are able to provide professional translation, then they can do so without being certified. They don’t even need advanced degrees to become a translator in the US.

A translation company operates within the dynamic field of translation, specializing in converting documents and media from one language to another, focusing on various language pairs. Professionals in this field must have a deep understanding of the target language, which is the language into which the text is being translated, as well as the source language, from which the text originates.

Effective translation requires not only fluency in the foreign language but also a nuanced grasp of cultural, contextual, and technical elements pertinent to both languages involved. This expertise ensures that communication remains clear and accurate across different regions and cultures, highlighting the essential role of language pairs in bridging global communication gaps.

It is important to understand that certified translation services are not the same as a certified translator. The former is usually used for an agency that is a member of the ATA.

Be a certified translator

Become a certified translator

If you intend to get some certification in the US, here it is online with the ATA. It won’t be easy, but we are here to explain the whole process of getting certified by the ATA.

advantages in getting certified

Advantages of getting certified

Less than 20% of the translators taking the test pass it and become ATA certified and therefore the certification will look great into your portfolio, opening new possibilities for you and enhancing your career.

why work with us

Why work with us

We are easy to work with and we are probably the fastest to pay our translators every month. We also have plenty of projects coming in every day so you will have the chance to get numerous translation jobs with us. As long as you are a native speaker of your target language, you can join us today.

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The American Translators Association (ATA)

ATA offers certification training for translators and is entirely credible for working as a translator in the United States. It is also a valid certification to have if you are working with international clients. The certification gives you validity for translating between English and one language of your choice and vice versa.

There are rather limited possibilities in terms of languages with the ATA. Before knowing online, you will want to know if it’s even possible for your language combination. Right now, the certification can be taken for the following official languages to English; Arabic, Croatian, Danish, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Swedish. The languages you can get a certification for translating from English are Mandarin Chinese, Croatian, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, and Ukrainian. It is important to choose your native tongue as the target language.

qualification requirements

Requirements for Qualification

ATA has its requirements for qualifying for a certification exam. These qualifications are as follows:

ATA Membership

The translators naturally become a member when they pass the certification tests.

ACTFL Proficiency Test

You need to pass the language proficiency exam of American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages for the language that you need the certification in.

Accreditation Eligibility

Following is the criteria for eligibility to get accreditation from ATA:

Certification from Fédération Internationale des Traducteurs, or, bachelor’s degree in translation and Interpretation from an institution that is approved by the ATA Education and Pedagogy Committee, or bachelor’s degree and two years of proven work experience as a translator; or five years of proven work experience as a translator.

The Test Taking

The exam covers source language comprehension, translation techniques and writing in the target language. The grading will focus on grammar, vocabulary, quality of the translation and accurate translation of the content.


If you want to complete your ATA certification exam successfully, make sure that you pass your ACTFL exam with at least ‘Advanced-Low.’


ATA provides sample tests on their website that translators can take. The test will be based on three passages. The first passage is a non- fiction; it could an essay of some kind. The second part will be a technical translation; it will be scientific, technical or medical. The third passage will be either financial, business related or legal content. You have to choose any of the two last passages, while the first passage is mandatory.


The test is taken, and the accreditation is cleared for a specific enhancement in the career. You will be given an ATA certified seal. Your credentials will also be listed in the ATA directory of translation services. You will be able to present yourself as a professional translator who has been validated to the industry standards. The ATA seal will have your certification number. Your certification number will show when you stamp documents.

Can anyone Certify a Translation?

The benefits of being certified by the ATA

Now that you know how to become a certified translator online, you may be interested in what benefits you get from the certificate program. The benefits are simple enough. You will be allowed to charge much higher rates per word for your translations. It costs around two hundred to three hundred dollars to pass the test. The test has to be frequently taken like around every year or two years to keep your certification alive. But the truth is; if you have passed the test once, you do not need to pass it again. Just passing the test once makes you an adequately vetted and robust translator. Being certified once will increase your value in the eyes of potential clients. Your existing certification will also help you in providing quality translation to all of your clients.

What do they mean by five years of proven experience?

This is a question that rotates around a lot. You need to be either a proper employee in an office as a translator for three years or work as a freelancer. Being an employee is much more preferable because it is irrefutable proof that you were adequately translating for all of that time. Permanent employment will also look good on your resume. Because having the relevant qualification is just not enough, you should also have experience in the industry.

Freelance Translator Showing proof of experience as a freelance translator is harder. You will need to show numerous monetary transactions as a freelancer and many recommendation letters from clients who used your services as a freelance translator.

Training with a translation agency When you are working towards your certification, it is highly recommended that you attach yourself to a proper translation agency. Many translation agencies hire freelance translators and then train them in the field. You will be able to learn new translation techniques if you work for a good agency. Once you have become an active member of their agency, they will provide you with regular work. They will also take care of client feedback. When the time comes, you can show your validation as a professional translator, and you will be able to show that the translation experience you have is valid and credible.

While preparing for your exam, it is better to check the certificate guidelines on the website of ATA. This way, you will be able to prepare in a better way and make the most out of the certificate program after clearing your exam. The certificate guidelines will tell you how to prepare for the exam and what benefits to get after clearing the test.

Your exam preparation is practice made perfect! The more you translate, the better you will perform. Working with a translation agency will genuinely hone your skills and will make you a good translator. This is also an excellent way to learn the trade and understand the industry.

benefits of becoming a certified translator
official translation certification

The Cost Of The Training

All of us have dreamt of things that we wish to turn into reality at some point in our lives. But sometimes, the lack of relevant information can keep people from changing their present and their future. But nothing worth having ever comes free. You will have to pay $525 to apply for the exam.

A lot of linguistic experts wonder how they can become certified. They know that preparation for the test would improve their language abilities and give them the confidence to find long-term clients. The process is quite simple, but first, you will have to figure out which association’s test you want to take. There are multiple associations that offer the exam, but ATA’s test has become the most popular in recent years. You can visit their website to learn all about their test.

You will have to become a member of the association first. After that, you can send your fee slip and registration to the headquarters of ATA. Details like the time and location of the test will be emailed to you. Make sure you study for the test properly because only after completing it successfully you can get your certification.

There is no certification in my language combination, what can I do?

Unfortunately, certification in a limited number of language combinations is offered at the moment. However, the association keeps on adding more combinations regularly. If there is sufficient long-term demand for a combination, there is a high chance it will be added to the certification list. The association will also need an adequate pool of experienced graders to put a combination on their list. Usually, volunteers contribute to adding more language combinations to the certification program, and the process takes four years to complete. If you want a foreign language to be added to ATA’s certification program then you will have to find other translators with the same combination.

How can I get registered for an exam?

If you are not a member of ATA, you cannot register for the exam. You will have to become a member at least a month before the date of the test so the paperwork can be completed easily. Send in your registration along with a fee of $525 to the headquarters of the association. Your registration must reach the headquarters at least two weeks before the written exam.

Is the ATA the best to get certified from?

When there are too many options, it can be difficult to choose between them. But we have gotten used to the number of options we are offered in life. However, when it comes to getting a certification, you can’t just choose a name because it sounds good. You must be certain that the name you have chosen will benefit your future career.

Various translators associations and organizations offer language proficiency tests and certification examinations, but it is ATA that has the most popular test system in the industry. The unique testing process and efficient grading make ATA’s certification the best in the world.

Those that want to go into the field of court interpreting or medical interpreting can also get tested on their skills. But ATA does not offer oral proficiency interview or oral examination at the moment. It can only help you in scoring the best legal translation job if you clear the certification exam. However, if you have a certification from ATA, you can still offer interpreting services. You will be valued by the courts if you have an existing certification from ATA. An ATA-Certified Translator has undergone rigorous assessments, ensuring a high level of competence and professionalism in delivering precise and culturally sensitive translations. With their expertise, you can trust that your documents, whether legal, technical, or business-related, will be translated with the utmost accuracy and adherence to industry standards.  But before you enter the field, it is important to know the difference between simultaneous and consecutive interpreting. Once you know the types, you will be able to do court interpreting in a much better way.

How to Become a Certified Translator

What does ATA stand for?

ATA stands for the American Translators Association. It works to improve the quality of linguistic services around the globe, assist translators in their work, and awards certification to the experts who clear the relevant test. Today, thousands of linguistic experts from around the world are members of ATA. They get the opportunity to learn from each other and receive the latest news related to the language industry.

How do I study for the ATA certification exam?

If you have submitted your registration and are worrying about the study method, there is no need to do that. If you stay calm and collected, you will be able to prepare for it in a better way. Even if you have never appeared for language proficiency tests before, you can ace this one if you prepare for it properly. You can take the practice test to figure out what kind of questions you will have to solve in the actual exam. You can also ask your seniors for guidance. You can work on your language skills by reading books and newspapers.

One of the many advantages of the internet is the way it connects us with each other. There are many forums on the web where you can connect with senior linguistic experts and ask for their advice. You can look them up on Google and join the one that suits your needs. Even if you don’t find reading material on the web, you will get useful tips. The tips will help you make sure you match the professional standards of the language industry.

It is important to take the certification exam as a learning opportunity. You should not be aiming for passing score. It is going to be as important as your high school diploma, maybe even more. But unlike your high school diploma, you can’t get certification by studying for multiple years.

Useful Tips:

Every year, thousands of linguistic experts in the United States appear for the exam to get translator certification. It allows people to get translation jobs of their choice. However, the entry test isn’t easy to clear. Most applicants lack the required skills and fail to satisfy the certifying authority. Here are some useful tips that can help you clear the exam so you can work with government agencies or translation agencies:

  • If you are appearing for the exam as an interpreter then make sure you have the adequate interpreter training.
  • As a translator, it is better if you have studied from an accredited translation school.
  • Gain a thorough knowledge of the culture of the languages you are fluent in.
  • Get translation work experience so you can become better at your job.
  • Read ATA’s complete instructions before you apply for the examination. Also, check the complete instructions about the examination process.
  • Learn about the testing schedule in advance. The exams aren’t held around the year. If you are aware of the testing schedule, you can prepare for the exam in a better way.
  • Study for the exam for your professional development. Don’t just see it as a way to make more money. Your professional development and improvement of your skills should matter to you more.
  • Make sure you fulfill all the entrance requirements. For instance, one of the entrance requirements is that you must be a member of the ATA. You cannot apply for the exam without becoming a member first.
  • Your computer skills will not be tested in the test, but you should work on them anyway. As a professional translator, computer skills will help you a lot. You will be able to use tools like translation memory to improve your work.
  • Always apply for certification in your mother tongue. For instance, if you a United States citizen, then you should be translating into the English language. But you can translate from the English language if you are a foreigner.
  • When you are given the test, make sure to read the text first. Also, go through any additional information provided to you. Follow the translation process if you want to do good in the test.
  • Give the test your best effort. It is the only time ATA will test your outstanding linguistic skill. You won’t be able to give an interview to explain your translation later.

How do I get certified to translate Spanish?

Spanish is one of the most popular vernaculars in the world today. And the total number of its speakers is only expected to increase in the future. This is why it is one of the most sought-after languages in the translation industry. Native translators of the language should sit for the written exam as they know their vernacular better than others.

The process remains the same regardless of the language combination. If you wish to become certified to translate Spanish, you can choose Spanish to English from the list of combinations. You will be presented with three passages during the examination and they will be in Spanish. You will be tasked with translating them. Make sure to read the source language text in detail before you begin translating it. As long as you rely on your core translation skills during the test, you will be able to clear it. The translation assessment carried out by ATA will help them figure out whether you are qualified enough to be certified or not. Once you clear the test, you will get your certified translator seal.

If you are a certified court translator, you will find it easier to get clients. However, legal interpretation is more in demand than legal translation. If you want to join judiciary interpreters, you don’t have to appear for an oral exam. You can get interpreter training and then appear for the certification exam to become well-known in your industry.

How much does it cost to be a certified translator?

In order to get registered for the examination, you will have to pay $525. You must send the fee slip and the registration to the headquarters of ATA. The fee may sound like a huge sum for now, but once you clear the examination and see its many benefits, you won’t mind spending all that money on it.

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