How to Become a Certified Translator

December 5, 2023
How to Become a Certified Translator

The qualifications you need to work as a translator vary by country. Let’s see how to become a certified translator in America, the UK, and Australia! 

What Is a Certified Translator?

Some confusion exists regarding the definition of a certified translator because it means different things in each country. Generally, certification provides an official way for a translator to prove the quality of their work. 

Note the significant difference between certified translators and certified translation services, which relates to the authenticity and accuracy of a translation.

Read more: What Is Certified Translation and When Do You Need to Use It?

Before we define what a certified translator is and how to become one, let’s look at the benefits of earning a translator certificate in the USA, the UK, and Australia.

Benefits of Having a Translator Certification

Becoming a certified translator means more than proving your skills to yourself. It allows you to demonstrate to clients that you represent an established, trustworthy source of high-quality translations. Earning your certificate can help you win more work, particularly in specialist fields. Medical translation, for example, requires keen attention to detail and outstanding linguistic skills.

Do you want to learn more about the translation industry? Visit our YouTube channel or check out this video that we've made for you:

How to Become a Certified Translator in the US

As the world’s largest economy, America offers translators plenty of room for professional growth.

The primary route to certification in the US runs through the American Translators Association. For $525, translators can sit through a challenging, three-hour exam that tests their comprehension of the source-language text, translation techniques, and writing ability in the target language.

Anyone can work as a translator in the US. However, language professionals seeking high-paying positions in legal translation services must obtain certification. Similarly, interpreters need certifications for legal interpretation jobs in the state and federal court certification systems. 

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Becoming a Certified Translator in the UK

In the UK, anyone can work as a translator. The UK has no system in place to certify translators like many other countries do. You can join a translation agency or find your own clients as a freelancer to start translating. However, translators looking to demonstrate their abilities have several options. 

One option is to become a Chartered Linguist (CL). To obtain the status of CL, the translator must prove five years of professional experience and hold a relevant qualification, such as the IoLET Diploma in Translation or an MA or MSc in translation. Applicants must also demonstrate a commitment to continuing professional development. The exam is free for members of the Chartered Institute of Linguists and £149 for non-members.

The Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI) provides another route to certification in the UK. Translators who wish to become members of ITI must take a translation assessment and submit professional references that demonstrate at least three years of professional translation experience. Applicants with a Diploma or an MA in translation do not have to take the entry test, which costs £60.  

How to Become a Translator in Australia 

Becoming a certified translator in Australia requires the demonstration of core translation skills. 

Certification through the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI) began on January 1st, 2018. The test assesses translators’ knowledge and skills to certify they meet professional standards. Applicants will notice an emphasis on education, training, and ongoing professional development throughout the certification process. The test costs $550 AUD.

International Translator Certification 

Translators who wish to expand their businesses beyond domestic borders have several options. The most prestigious translation certification, however, comes from the United Nations. 

The UN certification process tests students on the six official UN languages: Arabic, English, French, Mandarin, Russian, and Spanish. 

The UN translation certification process proves challenging. Translators must hold a relevant Bachelor’s degree and a diploma from an accredited translation school. A Master’s degree is preferred. Applicants must demonstrate proficiency in translating at least two of the UN’s six official languages into one target language. 

The testing process begins with a written interview. Those who pass must submit to a competency-based interview. The arduous process ensures the UN certifies only the best in their field. As a result, the UN certification enjoys global respect, making it well worth the hard work for translators who earn it.

Final Thoughts

Are you a certified translator? Do you believe that the certification process helped you? Leave a comment below to share your experience with our readers! 


By Ofer Tirosh

Ofer Tirosh is the founder and CEO of Tomedes, a language technology and translation company that supports business growth through a range of innovative localization strategies. He has been helping companies reach their global goals since 2007.



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