Eight Ways to Get Translator Certification

Eight Ways to Get Translator Certification article image

Written by Gwenydd Jones

Translator, translator trainer and copywriter

If you’re starting out as a translator or hoping to enter the language industry, you might be wondering about how to get translator certification. How important is getting certified as a translator? What’s the best way to go about it? Read on because we’ve got the lowdown on translator certification for you!

Do you need translator certification to work as a translator?

Yes and no. Translation isn’t a regulated profession. This means anyone can set up as a translator without any type of translation qualification. You can offer your services without having to pass any translation certification exams or tests. However, if you want to be a serious language professional, learning how to translate and getting certified as a translator is fundamental.

How long does it take to become a certified translator?

The time it will take to get your translator certification depends on your starting point. Assuming you have at least a C1 reading level in your second language, you could start by taking our Professional Translation Conversion Course and then sitting the CertTrans exam. By doing this, you can get your initial translation certification within six months. 

After that, it would be advisable to continue training on our Advanced Translation Course and refining your skills through professional or volunteer translation (e.g. for TED or Translators without Borders). You could then consider doing higher-level certification through the DipTrans exam

How to get certified as a translator

Becoming a certified translator is one of the best ways to attract better clients and higher rates. It shows you adhere to professional standards as well as demonstrating your language skills. This post outlines seven ways to get certified or qualified as a translator. Read on, dear linguist.

1. CIOL Level 6 CertTrans exam (Certificate in Translation) 

The officially regulated CertTrans certificate in translation (level 6, undergraduate level translator certification) is awarded by the Chartered Institute of Linguists (CIOL). The qualification is obtained through a professional exam. You can sit the CertTrans in different language combinations (follow above link for full info).

Advantages of the CertTrans: the CertTrans is the best early-career translation qualification to help you get started as a translator. It’s faster and cheaper to get than a degree. You can sit the exam online and no previous qualifications are required. 

Translators who pass the CertTrans exam can apply to become full members of the CIOL. Being a member of a professional translator association like the CIOL will give you enhanced professional recognition.

Disadvantages of the CertTrans: as an early-career translation qualification, you need to look at the CertTrans qualification as a starting point. It may help you get work as a translator but you’ll need to continue refining your skills and further qualify to enhance your professional status and get higher paying translation work.

Further reading: “What’s the difference between the CertTrans and DipTrans”.

2. CIOL level 7 DipTrans exam (Diploma in Translation)

After gaining professional translation experience, you can sit the officially regulated DipTrans postgraduate diploma in translation awarded by the CIOL. This translator certification is also obtained through an exam.

Advantages of the DipTrans: the DipTrans is the gold-standard translation qualification. It’s faster and cheaper to get than a degree. You can sit the exams online, with no previous qualifications required.

Disadvantages of the DipTrans: this challenging exam has a high fail rate. You need to do a preparation course (we have you covered!).

Further reading: “A Perplexed Translator’s Guide to the MA in Translation Studies and DipTrans“; “DipTrans: the Real Costs and Returns“.

3. University-awarded translation qualifications

This type of translator certification is either an undergraduate or master’s degree in translation.

Advantages: comprehensive learning, prestige.

Disadvantages: cost, time and entry requirements.

Further reading: “Is It Worth It for You To Do an MA in Translation Studies?” and “Translation Degree, MA in Translation Studies or DipTrans?

4. Governmental translation certification

In some countries, translators wishing to work in official capacities can register with the government as sworn translators. The process for doing this and the qualifications required will depend on your country of residence. Official translation and interpreting exams may be involved.

Advantages: status, opens doors to certain types of work that only official translators are allowed to do.

Disadvantages: laborious process, previous training and qualifications will probably be needed.

Further information: Gwenydd Jones and Catharine Cellier-Smart discuss how to become a certified translator in France in this YouTube interview.

5. Entry exams to be an official translator or interpreter for the EU, UN and other large organisations

Not exactly translator certification, but large organisations like the EU and UN require their professional translators to pass internal entry exams. This would strengthen any translator’s CV.

Advantages: gain entry to secure, well-paid jobs. Prestige.

Disadvantages: you’ll probably need a relevant graduate or postgraduate language, translation and/or interpreting qualification to be able to sit the entry exams. Two source languages normally required.

Get better clients and command higher rates by getting certified as a #translator. This post gives you seven options. By @Gwenydd_Jones #t9n #xl8 Click To Tweet

6. Certification exams offered by translators’ associations

Some translators’ associations offer their own certification exams. These include the ATA (USA), the ITI (UK) and the CTTIC (Canada). These translation exams and assessments are set and marked by the associations. You can usually do them remotely.

Advantages: well respected, cheaper and easier to get than degrees and postgraduate diplomas, regular exams, previous qualifications not typically required.

Disadvantages: viewed as the minimum qualification for a professional translator, previous training and experience may be needed, you’ll probably have to become a member to sit the exams.

Further information: “How to Become an Accredited Translator to Get More Work”. Gwenydd Jones interviews David Stephenson about the ATA translator certification exam on our YouTube channel here.

7. Membership of translators’ associations

Translators’ associations offer different levels of membership. The level you can obtain will depend on your existing translation qualifications and experience.

Advantages: accreditation solution for unqualified translators (“junior” member option), status, membership benefits.

Disadvantages: not a qualification, yearly membership fee.

8.Certification from independent training operators

The Translator’s Studio is an independent organisation that specialises in teaching the art of translation. We offer a range of translator training courses and issue our own certificates.

Our leading courses, the Professional Translation Conversion Course and the Advanced Translation Courses are both third-party certified. We’re not the only translator training centre, but we’re a highly professional one run by professional translators.

Check out our courses!

Advantages: wide range of options, low-cost alternative to university, can be used to prepare for the CertTrans, the DipTrans or a translators’ association exam.

Disadvantages: unofficial certification, make sure you check out the centre, the teachers and ask to speak to past students to ensure teaching quality is guaranteed. 

CertTrans and DipTrans Preparation Courses

The Translator’s Studio offers top-end translator training courses for aspiring and working translators. We specialise in CertTrans and DipTrans exam preparation. Check out our courses.

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