Does a PhD in German (English) philology give the right to be "certified" as a translator in the US?
Thread poster: Yuliya Samsonava

Yuliya Samsonava
United States
Local time: 00:17
English to Russian
+ ...
Feb 18, 2010

Dear colleagues,

Could you please help me with the following question: does PhD in German (English) Philology give the right to be an En-Rus certified translator (providing Russian is a native language) in the USA? Could you provide any links to legal documents on this topic. Thank you.

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2010-02-18 17:55 GMT]


Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:17
English to Spanish
+ ...
Never heard of that Feb 18, 2010

Translator certified by who? The only certifications for translators in the USA are given by different agencies or institutions for their own purposes and in their languages of interest. Furthermore, certifications are much less common for translators than for interpreters, and En-Rus is not such a popular pair.

The only chances would probably be to take and pass ATA exams in the appropriate language combinations, perhaps a diploma course at some college or university or credentials obtained in Russia.

However, there are no restrictions to practicing as a translator in the USA, with or without credentials of any kind.


Steven Capsuto  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:17
Member (2004)
Spanish to English
+ ...
"Certified" is ambiguous in the United States Feb 18, 2010

We don't have a national system of sworn interpreters in the U.S.

So it depends what the document is being used for, and what certification requirements are imposed by the body that will receive the translation.

In some contexts, a specific qualification is required: ATA certification, state-level court certification in that exact language pair, etc. In other contexts, anyone can do a "certified translation" merely by attaching a signed, notarized cover letter in which the translator asserts that he or she is a good translator and that the translation is complete and accurate to the best of his/her knowledge, belief and ability. Ask your client what the requirements are in this case.

In any case, I can't see how having a German (English) Philology degree would qualify one to be a certified EN>RU translator.

[Edited at 2010-02-18 17:34 GMT]


Stephen Franke
United States
Local time: 21:17
English to Arabic
+ ...
Steven Capsuto has covered the subject in terms of the US situation Feb 18, 2010


Steven Capsuto has covered the subject in terms of the U.S. situation in his comment.

The notion of some sort of "universal or cross-border certification" falls first by the wayside inside the multi-level (and multi-jurisdictional) court system in one state.

Several successful court challenges of translations submitted in cases also established that [1] "certification" by various agencies or authorities other than those accredited and recognized by the state's judicial system itself (NAJIT, CA Judicial Council, et al] is indeed ambiguous and [2] "certification" has no correlation or predictability in terms of the accuracy or competence of some legal translators.

Hope this helps.


Stephen H. Franke
San Pedro, California


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Does a PhD in German (English) philology give the right to be "certified" as a translator in the US?

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