What is the American translators association?

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Overview of the American Translators Association (ATA)

The American Translators Association (ATA) is a non-profit professional association founded in 1959. It is the largest association of translators and interpreters in the United States, with over 10,000 members worldwide.

ATA’s mission is to promote the translation and interpreting professions, foster the professional development of translators and interpreters, and educate clients and the general public about the importance of language services. The association values professionalism, education, networking, and advocacy.

ATA membership is open to anyone interested in translation and interpreting, regardless of their language combination, experience level, or professional background. Members have access to various programs and services, including advanced education, client education, an annual series of seminars, and a major annual conference held in a different major city each year.

ATA also offers a certification program for experienced translators who wish to demonstrate their expertise in a particular language combination or subject area. Certification is based on a rigorous exam that tests translation skills and knowledge of specific subject matter.

In addition to its certification program and educational offerings, ATA has several specialized divisions and chapters focusing on different language pairs or areas of specialization, such as software development or project management.

Finally, ATA is also actively involved in advocacy and education initiatives that promote the importance of language services and ensure that language professionals are treated fairly and respectfully in the workplace. This includes efforts to advocate for fair compensation and working conditions for translators and interpreters and educational sessions to promote better understanding and appreciation of language services among the general public.

Read more about how to get ATA translation services.

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History of ATA

The American Translators Association (ATA) is a non-profit association that has been serving the translation and interpreting community since 1959. It was founded by translators who saw the need for a professional organization to represent their interests and promote their work.

Over the years, ATA has become the largest professional association of translators and interpreters in the United States, with a membership of over 10,000 professionals from around the world. It has also become a respected authority on language services, providing resources, education, and advocacy for its members and the public.

One of the founders of ATA was a language company owner named C. Walter Hodges. He believed that the translation profession needed a way to establish and uphold professional standards and promote the value of translation services to potential clients. Together with other like-minded individuals, he created ATA to fill that need.

In the rich tapestry of language translations, the History of ATA is a testament to professional translators’ competence and commitment to quality translation. An ATA-certified translator with expertise in handling legal documents such as divorce certificates epitomizes the standards upheld by translation service providers and companies.

The demand for accurate translation is met through the collaboration of qualified translators, ensuring high-quality translations beyond the capabilities of online translation services or individual translators. The emphasis on human translations underscores the exact translation needed for historical contexts, marking a milestone in the legacy of professional translation services.

Today, ATA continues to carry out that mission through various activities, including its certification program, an annual conference, and different education and advocacy initiatives. The association has come a long way since its humble beginnings, but its commitment to excellence and professionalism in translation and interpreting remains as strong as ever.

Get more information about what is an ATA-certified translation.

ATA’s mission and values

The American Translators Association (ATA) is the largest professional organization for translators and interpreters in the United States. Its mission is to promote the recognition and advancement of translation and interpretation professions while fostering professional development, education, and networking opportunities.

The ATA’s core values include promoting excellence in translation and interpretation, providing a forum for professional growth and community, supporting diversity and inclusivity, advocating for ethical and fair practices in the industry, and fostering collaboration between language professionals, clients, and stakeholders.

To achieve these values, the ATA provides various resources and services to its members, including access to industry news and publications, career development resources, and professional certifications. Members also have access to a network of experienced professionals and a community of colleagues who can provide support and mentorship.
The ATA also advocates for the translation and interpretation industry, working with government agencies, policymakers, and industry stakeholders to promote the value and importance of language services in today’s global marketplace. In addition, the ATA is dedicated to providing education and training programs to improve the skills and knowledge of language professionals and to increase public awareness of the importance of translation and interpretation.

The ATA’s mission and values reflect a commitment to advancing the translation and interpretation professions and promoting excellence, professionalism, and ethical standards in the industry. As a member-driven organization, the ATA works tirelessly to support its members and advocate for the vital role of language services in our interconnected world. Read more about how to get an ATA-certified translation.

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american translators association

Membership benefits and requirements

Becoming a member of the American Translators Association comes with various benefits and requirements.

To be eligible for membership, applicants must have proficiency in at least one language besides English and demonstrate translation or interpreting experience. Membership options include Active, Corresponding, Associate, Student, and Corporate.

One of the main benefits of ATA membership is access to the ATA Online Directory, which lists members’ contact information, language pairs, and areas of specialization. This directory is valuable for individuals and businesses seeking translation or interpreting services. It also offers native translators access to a variety of programs and benefits, including the opportunity to take the actual exam, which is highly regarded in the translation industry. ATA-certified translation agencies benefit from association with qualified professionals recognized by federal governments for their expertise and reliability.

Members also have access to ATA’s Continuing Education Program, which offers courses and webinars on various topics related to translation and interpreting. These courses allow members to improve their skills and stay current on industry trends. ATA members receive a subscription to The ATA Chronicle, the association’s bi-monthly magazine, which features articles on industry news, language-specific issues, and translation and interpreting techniques.

ATA membership also provides opportunities for networking, professional development, and leadership roles within ATA Divisions and Chapters. Divisions are organized by language, subject matter, and specialty areas and provide members with resources and forums for professional development and networking. Chapters are organized geographically and host local events and activities.

ATA membership provides numerous benefits and resources for individuals in the translation and interpreting industry. By joining ATA, members can take advantage of educational opportunities, connect with other professionals in the field, and stay current on industry news and trends.

ATA Certification Program

The ATA Certification Program is one of the most recognized and respected credentials for translation professionals in the industry. It is designed to help clients and employers identify competent and experienced translators.

To become a certified translator with the ATA, applicants must pass a rigorous translation exam in their chosen language pair(s). The exam tests a translator’s proficiency in translating texts in their field of expertise and assesses their language, cultural, and translation knowledge.

It offers a rigorous measure of competence for translators through its certification examinations, assessing professional competence in various language pairs. Translators seeking certification must pass a three-hour online exam covering academic and personal documents, ensuring their credentials meet the standards set by the Association for Translators.

Upon successful completion, translators receive a certificate of accuracy attesting to their competence for translation, which is invaluable for official purposes in the language industry. The ATA Board administers the program, ensuring certified translators are licensed professionals recognized for their skills and expertise.

The certification exam is offered twice yearly and covers various subjects, including medical, legal, scientific, and technical translations. To be eligible to take the exam, candidates must meet the following requirements:

  • Be an ATA member in good standing
  • Have a degree from a recognized institution in translation, interpretation, or a related field; OR
  • Have at least three years of full-time professional experience in translation; OR
  • Have passed an equivalent certification exam from a recognized professional organization.

The certification program is available for translators working in a wide range of language pairs, and there are also specialized certification options for certain languages and fields. Certified translators must renew their certification every three years and earn a certain number of continuing education credits.

By becoming certified ATA translators, they can demonstrate their professionalism and expertise to potential clients and employers. Clients and employers, on the other hand, can be confident that they are working with a qualified and competent professional.

ATA Annual Conference

The ATA Annual Conference is an event that brings together translation and interpretation professionals worldwide. It is one of the largest gatherings of translators and interpreters, with over 1,500 professionals from various fields attending.

The conference features a range of educational sessions, networking opportunities, and exhibitions. The educational sessions cover translation technology, language-specific issues, business practices, and interpreting skills. In addition to the educational sessions, the conference offers opportunities for networking with other professionals in the industry. This can be a valuable opportunity for freelancers and new professionals looking to connect with potential clients and colleagues.

One of the conference’s highlights is the annual ATA Awards Ceremony, where outstanding translators and interpreters are recognized for their contributions to the field.
The ATA Annual Conference is a great way to stay current with industry trends and developments. It is also an opportunity to meet other professionals in the field and build relationships that can benefit your career in the long run.

If you want to attend the ATA Annual Conference, check the ATA website for more information on the schedule, registration, and location. The conference is usually held in October or November, so plan your calendars!

ATA Divisions and Chapters

ATA has more than 20 divisions and chapters representing different areas of translation and interpreting and regional and linguistic groups. Divisions and branches are run by volunteers who organize events, webinars, networking opportunities, and publications related to their specific areas of expertise.

For instance, some divisions include the Arabic Language Division, the French Language Division, the Literary Division, the Medical Division, and the Science and Technology Division. Conversely, chapters are based on geography and include local groups such as the Midwest Association of Translators and Interpreters or the Rocky Mountain Translators and Interpreters Association.

Being part of a division or chapter can be an excellent way to connect with colleagues, learn about new trends and tools in your field, and share your knowledge and experience. Additionally, some divisions and chapters offer mentoring programs, job boards, and discounts for conferences and courses.

ATA members can join as many divisions and chapters as they want, depending on their interests and professional goals. To join a division or branch, you need to log in to your ATA account and select the ones you are interested in. Remember that some divisions and chapters may require additional qualifications or fees. If you want to enhance your skills and network with like-minded professionals, joining an ATA division or branch can be a great way to achieve your goals. You can find a list of all ATA divisions and chapters on their website.

ATA Advocacy and Education initiatives

In addition to its various membership benefits and certification programs, the American Translators Association (ATA) also strives to promote the profession of translation and interpreting through its advocacy and education initiatives. One of the key ways that ATA advocates for the industry is by monitoring legislative and regulatory developments that could impact the work of translators and interpreters. This includes supporting efforts to improve working conditions, protect intellectual property rights, and ensure access to high-quality language services in various settings.

ATA also offers several educational resources and programs to help translators and interpreters enhance their skills and stay up-to-date with the latest trends and best practices. These include webinars, conferences, training sessions, and professional development and networking resources.

In addition to these broader initiatives, ATA has several specialized divisions and chapters focused on specific language pairs or areas of specialization, such as medical or legal translation. These groups provide additional resources, networking opportunities for members, and advocacy efforts for their particular industry sector.

ATA’s advocacy and education initiatives help ensure that the translation and interpreting profession remains vital, relevant, and respected in the United States and worldwide. Whether you are a seasoned professional or just starting in the industry, ATA offers a wealth of resources and support to help you succeed.


What does the American Translators Association do?

The American Translators Association provides various resources and services to its members, including networking opportunities, professional development programs, certification exams, publications, and a platform for knowledge sharing and collaboration.

How can I become a member of the American Translators Association?

To become a member of the American Translators Association, you need to meet certain eligibility requirements and complete the membership application process. This typically involves providing proof of your translation or interpreting experience and paying the membership fee.

What are the benefits of joining the American Translators

Joining the American Translators Association offers numerous benefits, such as access to a vast network of language professionals, professional development opportunities, ATA publications and newsletters, discounts on conferences and events, and the opportunity to earn ATA certification.

What is ATA certification?

ATA certification is a credential the American Translators Association offers that demonstrates a translator’s proficiency in a specific language pair. It involves passing a rigorous exam that evaluates translation skills and language knowledge.

How can ATA certification benefit translators?

ATA certification can enhance a translator’s professional credibility and marketability. It signifies a high level of competence and adherence to professional standards, which can help attract clients, increase earning potential, and open up new career opportunities.


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