ATA Accreditation Changes Update
Thread poster: Monika Coulson

Monika Coulson  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:50
Member (2001)
English to Albanian
+ ...
Oct 3, 2003

I received this announcement from the ATA headquarters and I thought to share it with those who may be interested.
Have a great weekend everyone,

Dear colleague,

The recent accreditation program changes have been the subject of lively discussion among members. This discussion is a healthy sign. It reflects how important the ATA credential is for members, and their keen interest in the association. Today, I want to focus on the new continuing education requirements.

The new continuing education requirements set a higher standard for ATA accreditation, making it stronger and more credible in the eyes of industry outsiders.

We all want ATA accreditation to enjoy the status of other highly-regarded professional credentials. All these have a continuing education component. If we want that level of recognition, none of us can shirk the responsibilities that go along with it.

Nearly four years ago, ATA set out to determine exactly how to build ATA accreditation into a world-class credential. We hired certification expert Michael Hamm to review the program and recommend areas for improvement. He wrote: “[A] key issue for ATA is the lack of a time limit or continuing competence requirement for your certification program. These requirements are one of the key ingredients of good certification programs. This consultant is not aware of any profession that does not expect some continuing education or professional development to adequately maintain one’s skills. Most certification programs usually state that certification is offered for a 3-5 year period and certificants must either pass another examination or show some evidence of continuing education/professional development to retain their credential.”

Along with proactive public relations and a robust professional development program, ATA accreditation with continuing education requirements fits into an overarching and well-thought-out strategy to enhance the professional lives of working translators and interpreters.

Speaking on behalf of the Board of Directors elected to think these issues through and make decisions, as well as on behalf of the Accreditation Committee and the dozens of other ATA volunteers working to develop the new requirements and strengthen the examination component, we are very sympathetic to the concerns some members have raised.

A few have expressed concerns about time and money. Twenty hours over three years is less than one day a year: a small investment to make in our skills and status as translators in this country.

Related, I have heard from members who expressed concern about a lack of ATA programs or ATA chapters in their area. The continuing education courses you take do not have to be ATA programs. You can take a course in Latvia or Los Angeles in any subject relevant to your work as a translator—it doesn’t matter. In fact, the requirements’ openness to continuing education in finance, medicine, law, technical fields, and so on underscores the importance of subject-matter expertise for our work.

Others have written that they learn on the job. While this is certainly true, the same can be said of typists. Remember that a certification is meant for outsiders, who cannot otherwise assess whether we possess the skills for the job. Our peers are not the audience. A credential with continuing education requirements communicates to the outside world that translation is a rich service that demands ongoing professional development.

Some have had difficulty understanding some aspects of the framework of continuing education credits. A useful way of looking at the credits is that they go chiefly to activities that bring translators out of isolation and into contact with other professionals. In this country, working in isolation has sometimes fed translators’ belief that our skills are so good that we have nothing to learn.

The grid of continuing education credits in its current form is an initial framework. There is no question that adjustments will be made. This is a starting point, a foundation on which to build. We invite members to offer suggestions to improve the program.

We have been working on this process for nearly four years. I thank you for your patience and input as we make the transition. Our efforts will pay off with an ATA credential of even greater value both to the outside world and to those willing and able to continue meeting its standards.

Finally, please visit the ATA website for the latest information, recently expanded frequently asked questions section, and the reformatted continuing education credit list for your reference.

Thank you for your time.


Thomas L. West III
American Translators Association

[Edited at 2003-10-03 21:14]


Tina Vonhof
Local time: 11:50
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Just what I needed Oct 4, 2003

Thank you, this is just what I needed at this time. My association (I'll not name any names) is proposing a set of continuing education requirements that I think are unreasonable and some of which have nothing to do with 'education'.

I looked on the ATA web site and their requirements seem much more reasonable and attainable. I hope to be able to use them as an example to make a case to my association for modifications to their proposal.


Louise Vaux  Identity Verified
Japanese to English
Personal details May 18, 2004

I've hidden the above posting at the request of one of the people that was mentioned in the posting - he didn't want his address to be made public.


Greg Twiss  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:50
German to English
+ ...
Absolute nonsense - all they want is your money Jul 10, 2004

The author claims not to know of any profession that does not require further education. Well I can think of a host of them - what about doctors and lawyers for a start!
If you are working in a professional field then you are going to start specialzing at some point. Demanding re-accreditation under these circumstances is just ludicrous, because this often involves showing broad-based skills that are no longer relevant to your daily work.
Lets take doctors as a classical example. Specialist doctors would find it quite difficult to work as GP's. Or let's take lawyers - a patents lawyer might find it rather difficult to defend a murder suspect in court.

Personally I just think this is money making on the part of such institutions - so they can charge for re-examining and re-training.

[Edited at 2004-07-10 21:23]


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