Become a Certified Translator


Becoming a Certified Translator in the USA

  • Recommendation: the document is certified, not the translator
  • Who provides: any translator competent in one language may certify a document

A certified translation for legal use in the US does not require the translator to be certified. On the other hand, the translator shall add a statement in the translation that he is a competent translator doing a faithful translation. He shall also add his contact information in case a court or other entity wants to discuss with him about his translation.

Although not necessary, customers will want to have a Certified Translation provided by a certified translator working for a Translation company for the following reasons:

1. A certified Spanish translator will give more credibility to the certified translation

2. A corporation will also add more credibility to the certified translation

3. Other minor aspects of the translation may impact the overall acceptance of a certified translation. Although an entity may officially accept a certified translation that does not transmit much credibility, this may bring unwanted secondary effects such as request for complementary documents, extra affidavits, etc.

Types of Certification for the Translator

An accreditation (or certification) of a translator may come from different entities

Translation-related Degrees: most translation agencies will consider a diploma obtained after the completion of a translation degree programs a valid accreditation. Check our directory to find Translation Schools in your area.

Association Examinations: associations such as the ATA – American Translators Association offers one of the most recognized certifications in the US. The ATA certification is offered to translators who pass a three-hour exam to assess translation skills in a specified source-target language combination. More information about their certification process on this page of their website.

Vendor Examinations: some translation tool vendors will offer a certification for those who pass an online examination. Most of these certifications wouldn’t be considered as an actual accreditation, but certifications coming from the dominant translation tool vendor SDL may represent a competitive advantage in your search for clients. Most translation agencies use SDL Trados as their main translation tool.

Court System Examinations:

assured by a  depends  will vary depending on where an how the translation is provided. The three major “certifications” known in the Spanish translation business:

  1. A certified Spanish translator by a professional translation association
  2. A certified Spanish translator authorized by the US Government to interpret and translate at the US courts
  3. A certified Spanish translator for a legal use in the United States

We explain in the following paragraphs about each one of them.

Certification by a Professional Translation Association

  • Recommendation: intermediate / advanced translators in any field
  • Who provides: ATA and other associations

Value that aggregates: better image in the market, access to clients demanding certified Spanish translators for their jobs.

ATA, the American Translators Association, is one of the well known associations of translation. To become a Spanish translator certified by ATA, you will need:

1. Become an ATA member

2. Satisfy the eligibiliy requirements, which are providing proof of a minimum education and work experience.

3. Register and pass an exam

For a professional translator, the exam should not be a very difficult challenge. Although the first time pass rate is low (less than 50%), those who persevere usually pass the exam and obtain the so-called certification.

Certified Spanish Translator by the US Court System

  • Recommendation: only Interpreters wanting to work in court interpretation
  • Who provides: The US Court System of each state

Value that aggregates: access to US Court interpretation jobs

Although the US Courts do not call this a certification, after an interpreter goes through a series of exams both written and oral, the US Court system will issue a formal approval of this person to work as a paid interpreter at US Courts.

The examination and approval rules are slightly different for each language. The approval for a Spanish Interpreter will be obtained through a particular set of examinations for the Spanish idiom. This does not happen to most of the other languages, which will have a common set of tests.

Exact Instructions


You may want to check on our directories of Translation Associations and Translation Schools

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