A certified translation is composed of three parts:
1) The original text
2) The translated text
3) A statement that is signed by the translation company or the translator, with their signature being notarized. This attests that the translation is complete and accurate according to the best ability and knowledge of the translator and/or the translation company representative.
How accurate are certified translations?
When looking for or receiving certified translations, you should keep in mind that any translation or translation company can certify their translation. A translator does not require any kind of certification or the passing of any test for certified translations, and the Notary Public is not attesting to the translation’s accuracy.
Is there such a thing as a certified translator?
Yes. Although translators do not need to pass any kind of test or have any kind of certification to certify their translations, translators can become certified translators. In many countries around the world, there are federal or state licensing or certification for translators, but the specifics vary by country.
In the United States, however, there are currently no “official” federal or state licensing or certification out there for translators to become certified. There are, however, some credentials available that translators can get, but they sadly do not mean as much as the official certifications of other countries in the market place or in the translation community.
What credentials are out there for American translators?
Because the United States does not have an official certification system for translators, the American Translators Association developed one. The American Translators Association created a certification is specific to the language pairs and directions in which the translator translates.
For example, a translator certified in Spanish to English may not be certified in English to Spanish. If you’re both a translator and an interpreter, keep in mind that the American Translators Association’s certification only certifies translators. It does not apply to interpreters and cannot be used to certify them.
Are American translators who aren’t certified “bad” translators?
Not at all! There are plenty of reasons why a translator may not be certified. For many languages, especially here in the United States, there are no types of certification or screening available. There is also the possibility that the clients that the translator works with are outside the United States, and as a result, would not place any form of importance on an American Translators Association certification. In addition to those reasons, the translator may already be established enough in their field that they simply do not feel the need to prove their ability to translate professionally to anyone.
There are many reasons why a translator may not be certified, and there are plenty of fantastic, experienced, hard-working translators and interpreters out there who are not certified in any way, shape, or form. Rather than judging on the certifications (or lack thereof) of the translator, judge based on their work, especially their work’s accuracy.