My American Translators Association Membership experience: so far not that great

My American Translators Association Membership experience:  so far not that great

Being a member of a professional association is somewhat of a “must” for any professional translator. If you reside in the US, your “local” association is the American Translators Association (ATA), so I decided to become a member some 10 months ago. So far my experience has not been that great.

But let me substantiate:

1) The ATA Certification Process: it might take more time than you think

Now, I already hold an English German translator certification from Germany, but just to hone my local credentials I decided to also become certified with the ATA.  So I enrolled, paid a fee over $300 and took the test in the middle May. At the day of the test I learned that the correction and review time would be over 3 months, or to be more precise, 15 weeks.  More than twice the time my IHK certification process in Germany, but whatever, right?

 After all, that would give them sufficient time to do everything necessary to ensure quality review and evaluation. After 16 weeks post the testing date, I sent my first tender e-mail inquiring about the results. The answer was that the review process was still pending and they were “hoping” to have them by the end of the month. Hoping? Now that was a deadline I never thought of suggesting to my own translation clients. But whatever, right?

In the meantime I did not want to be one of those members who simply complain, nag and never participate. So I offered to become an ATA reviewer for English German translations in order to shorten waiting times for future colleagues and test takers.

The answer: Becoming an ATA test reviewer will depend on your certification results. That makes sense, right?  Now, however that another month has passed without any result that seems to have become a bit of a catch 22 situation.

2) The ATA LinkedIn Member Group

The ATA advertises in its member magazine their LinkedIn member group. So I took them up on it and submitted my membership request via LinkedIn at the beginning of this year. After several weeks without membership approval, I re-submitted, again without any response. After several more weeks (and another member magazine advertisement to join the LinkedIn group), I sent out e-mail inquiries to follow up. However, the response was: zip, zilch, nada and nichts. I finally gave up and removed my “join group request” last week. Instead, I joined the Guerilla Marketing for Translators; which is a fantastic group that was just nominated by Proz.com for best LinkedIn Translators group.

3) Outlook

I would be extremely interested to get some feedback from you guys. What are your experiences with the ATA or your local translators association?  What have you done to improve your translators association?

For my part, I am still set to volunteer as reviewer, if I ever get my own test results J

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6 Responses to “My American Translators Association Membership experience: so far not that great”

  1. Hi Tim,

    I understand your frustration. But good things come to those who wait. As an agency, we find that ATA-certified translators are usually the best. Probably due to the stringent testing process. I know of some translators who failed the ATA test and did not receive certification. On the other hand, we have had some bad experiences with Diplom-Übersetzer translators, German translators certified in Germany.

    Good luck and I hope that you get certified soon.

    • Thank you for this interesting contribution, Medical Translation Service team member. Just out of curiosity, if your agency would happen to be an ATA corporate member, what are your experiences in dealing with them? If not, I would also be interested to learn why your agency decided not to join the ATA.

  2. Just out of curiosity – I didn’t read the word “phone” in your account of… – well, basically waiting around and writing emails 😉 In my personal experience, just going on the horn and getting to talk to some new, in most cases nice folks can make all the difference.

    Did you try that?

    • Well, Gerd the thing is that you won’t get a phone number of the actual reviewers. Otherwise, someone like me could just schmooze em over to approve whatever 🙂

  3. On the one hand, it must be nice to have your ATA membership under your belt. On the other hand, I don’t really understand what the practical side is of being a member of that group – or of any other similar group, for that matter. This is from someone who is not a member of anything, however, so please take that with a grain of salt.

    • You might get a job every once in a while through your their website. In this way it makes financially sense to me as annual membership fees are not that high…

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