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ATA Certification Exam

Certification by the ATA (American Translators Association;, while not a prerequisite for getting work as a translator, is a recognized indicator of translator competence and a good credential to have on your résumé.


Only those who have passed the exam in at least one language pair can claim to be an "ATA-certified translator" and use the title "CT" after their names ("Certified Translator").


ATA currently offers certification in 26 language pairs (see list below). You must be a member of the ATA and fulfill certain eligibility requirements to be able to register for the exam. In addition, the registration form and $300 payment must be received by ATA two weeks prior to the exam date. A complete explanation of the exam, its grading policies, eligibility requirements, and a list of current exam sites and dates are on the ATA website. ATA also offers practice tests, which can be helpful in preparing to take the actual exam.

NCTA proctors the ATA certification exam once or twice annually in San Francisco, usually in the spring and/or fall. Exam dates are posted on the registration page soon as they are available. The 2002-2012 Certification Pass Rates for each language pair are published on page 23 of The ATA Chronicle, August 2014 edition. As of November 2016, the ATA states that the overall pass rate is below 20%. 

Stay tuned for upcoming certification exam sittings in California in 2017! The next sitting in San Francisco will be on Saturday, September 16, 2017 (computerized exam); Some other sessions in 2017 include:


Kitchener, Ontario Canada: Saturday, July 22, 2017 (computerized exam, waiting list)

Austin, TX: Saturday, July 22, 2017 (computerized exam, waiting list)

Bellevue, NE: Thursday, August 03, 2017 (handwritten exam)

Novi, MI: Saturday, August 05, 2017 (computerized exam, waiting list)
Washington, DC: Saturday, August 05, 2017 (handwritten exam).

Visit the ATA website for complete information and registration and upcoming exam sittings.


NCTA has offered an orientation workshop to acquaint attendees with the ATA certification program and exam (nature of the passages, skills to be tested, exam grading, taking the examination, planning ahead, tips for candidates etc.), usually in August or September annually or bi-annually. Check back for scheduling of this workshop.

Another resource: ATA offers a free webinar, "Preparing to Take the ATA Certification Exam," that can be viewed online at any time.

At present, the ATA certification exam and practice tests are only offered in the following language combinations:

Into English from: Arabic, Croatian, Danish, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish and Ukrainian.

From English into: Chinese, Croatian, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, and Ukrainian.



Article published in the International Journal for Translation and Interpreting Research: "Welcome to the Real World:  Professional-Level Translator Certification," by Geoffery Koby and Gertrud Champe of Kent State University (click link below):


Contact Us

  • Northern California Translators Association
  • 2261 Market Street, #160
  • San Francisco, CA 94114-1600
  • Phone: (510) 845-8712
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