Certified Translator: Should you become one? | Espresso Translations

How to Become a Certified Translator

Do you have a talent for linguistics? Are you good at more than one language? Want to put those skills to use? In this post, we’ll go through what it takes to become a certified translator, and if it’s even necessary to do so.

Should You Become a Certified Translator?

Accreditation is no guarantee of finding employment. Oddly enough, it’s also no guarantee of pulling in more money. That’s because the industry itself is divided on the subject.

On the one hand, there are those who think that if you want to be an official translator, certification is essential. They reason that if you don’t get certified, you won’t be able to get the better-paying jobs, like a court certified translator.

On the other hand, there are those who’ll tell you that people pushing translator certification online are only in it for the money. In the United States, it’s not actually necessary to be accredited, and that makes it harder to decide whether or not it is worth it.

For our money, we say it depends on what work you’ll be doing. If you’re doing the odd bit of translation here and there to pick up a few bucks, it might not be worth getting certified.

If, on the other hand, you want to do this full-time, it might be worth your time and money. Another thing to consider is that it may be required if you want to join one of the professional organizations in the industry.

Also, if you can add that qualification when someone types “Certified translator near me” into their search window, your name might just come up.

This Could be Right for You If:

  • You’re making this your career, and you’d like to advance. There are going to be clients who are more comfortable working with a certified professional.
  • You want to have tangible proof that you’re qualified.
  • You plan to work in the legal profession or court system. It’s not essential in all cases, but certification can be a big plus.

This Could be a Waste of Your Time If:

  • You’ve already established a good reputation.
  • You’re doing this more as a hobby than a career.

How Do I Become a Certified Translator?

Find an organization that offers the right program for you. In the United States, your choices are commercial or educational institutions; there are also foreign institutes.

Commercial Institutions

The American Translators Association—established in 1959—is an excellent place to start. It was created to provide support to those in the profession and has representatives in almost 100 different countries and over 11,000 members.

The association makes its money through certification examinations, conferences, and memberships fees. The focus is translation to and from English. If you are already a skilled translator, this is a good organization to join.

Educational Institutions

Colleges and universities can be helpful if you want to specialize in a specific area, like legal translations. You’ll also be able to work on your general skills.

If this sounds like the option for you, then take a look around the educational institutions close to home. If you’re going to be working at the same time, find a program that offers night classes or correspondence learning.

Foreign Institutes

If you’re in the United States, most organizations will be vetting your translations into English or out of it. But what if you want to translate French to Spanish? Or any two other languages? Then you might be better off looking for an organization in one of those countries.

Evaluating Your Options

Now that you have a better idea of the two routes available to you, it’s time to do some research. What does each course offer? How much work is involved? What are your responsibilities? What costs will there be?

If you’re still undecided, create a short-list of three courses at the very most. Which of these is most convenient? Is there one class more cost-effective than the others? What qualification does each allow you to receive?

Sign Up and Get it Done

Your next step is to stop delaying. If you’ve decided to take the plunge, get started. It’s going to take some serious effort if you’re working at the same time, but try and get through it as fast as possible.

Keep in mind that some organizations may require you to recertify after a certain length of time. Again, don’t drag your feet. Get your qualification as quickly as possible.

Evaluating Your Options

Now that you have a better idea of the two routes available to you, it’s time to do some research. What does each course offer? How much work is involved? What are your responsibilities? What costs will there be?

If you’re still undecided, create a short-list of three courses at the very most. Which of these is most convenient? Is there one class more cost-effective than the others? What qualification does each allow you to receive?

Final Notes

Becoming a professional translator with certification may give your resume a boost. You’re still going to have to be able to deliver the goods, though. It doesn’t matter how qualified you are if you’re going deliver mediocre, slapdash work.

By all means, consider getting certified. But don’t rest on your laurels afterward. Look for ways to continually improve your skills through plenty of practice.