Is an ATA Certified Translation Really Worth It?

When searching for any product or service, companies always explain how their products are head and shoulders above the rest, backed by this guarantee or the other. When confronted with so many choices and so much marketing, how can we, the consumer, wade through all the hype? In the translation world, is there a seal of quality that we should look out for?


In the United States, it is very important to stress that there is no one official governing body for translation, interpretation or language services. The government has no list of approved translators nor recommended companies. That said, through misinformation, many people are led to believe that for a translation to be valid and accepted in the US, it needs to be done by a company belonging to the American Translators Association (ATA).


The ATA bills itself as the preeminent voice and authority in the United States. While there is a written examination that a translator may take to become “certified” by the organization, the organization’s standards are no more rigorous than myriad other associations worldwide. More so, there is no company level examination, meaning that a translation company simply pays a yearly fee to belong to the ATA, with no need for demonstrating quality control.


Instead of fixating on the ATA, one should rather search for a translation company bearing an ISO 900:2015 certification, which is a worldwide organization that actually audits companies on a yearly basis. If a translation company does not comply with the strict requirements, the company can’t bear the ISO seal. Idiomatic, for example, is proudly ISO certified.


Were you told you need ATA translations? Don’t pay a premium for their seal; speak with Idiomatic for a quote on ISO certified translations here.