ATA Conference in Chicago, 2014

2 Things You Should Know About Certified Translators & Translations

Certified Translators & Translations

This year I had the pleasure of attending the American Translators Association (ATA) conference in Chicago on behalf of NWI Global.

As a first time attendee, I did not know what to expect or where the experience would lead me. I hoped that I would network with fellow project managers and meet some great new freelance translators, but what else was in store was a mystery.

I ended up attending some beneficial sessions that helped broaden my perspective regarding my own work, the work our translators do, and how to better serve our clients.

My passion for the language services industry was nurtured and reinforced, and I hope to use my new skills and inspiration to cultivate the same fire throughout our entire translation department.

Languages spoken at the 2014 ATA Conference

I also came home with a bag full of business cards and resumes from translators to sort through.

As I settled back into my routine here in Vancouver and attempted to pick the “good” translators out of the bunch, I realized how very many ways there are to define what a “good” translator is!

What does “Certified” Mean?

One distinction that we look at closely is whether or not a translator is certified. This is particularly emphasized because our clients often request certified translations.

But there is a difference between a certified translator and a certified translation… so which do you actually need?

I will explain what “certified” means when it comes to translators & translations.

If you are looking for a “certified” service, these are the two things you should know.

1. Certified Translators

Certified translators are linguists who have passed some kind of exam which assesses their ability to accurately translate from one language into another.

The exam is usually given by a professional organization, such as the ATA or by a state or local government. A degree in translation from a university, while impressive, is not the same thing as a translation certification.

It is important to note that translation exams, unlike interpreting exams, are one-directional, meaning that if you are certified in translation from English into Spanish, you are not certified in translation from Spanish into English unless you have taken a separate certification exam for that combination as well.

I ran into quite a few certified translators at the ATA conference!

ATA-certified translators are often regarded as top translation experts, as the ATA examination is viewed as one of the most prestigious certifications with the most rigorous standards in the United States. When our clients ask us for certified translators, we frequently recommend ATA-certified linguists as their best option.

However, there are thousands of languages in the world, and ATA certifications are currently offered in only 27 language combinations. Depending on the language you need, you may not have the option of using a certified translator.

2. Certified Translations

Certified translations are translations that are certified by the language services company or the linguist who provided the service.

They usually will provide a signed and dated certificate saying that the completed translation is true and correct to the best of their knowledge.

This is a great option for translations that are going to be used in legal situations. Especially when the translation is in a language for which there is no translator certification available.

What This Means to You

Certified translators do not automatically produce certified translations, and certified translations are not always done by certified translators.

Another way of looking at it is that a certified translator is an individual who is certified in a specific language combination. A certified translation is a document that has been certified by a translator or a language services company to affirm translation quality.

Now that you’re more knowledgeable about certified translators and translations, you will know which one to request for your next translation project.

What are your experiences with certified translators & translations?

Share your thoughts and questions in the comments.

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