Changes in ATA Continuing Education Requirements

ATA introduced continuing education requirements for certification in 2004. Prior to that, ATA certification was a “once-and-done” system, meaning that individuals who passed the exam remained certified as long as they remained ATA members. Introducing continuing education requirements brought the Association more in line with the practices of other credentialing bodies, where it had long been commonplace to require credentialed persons to submit proof of activities and experiences that advance professional development.

In the intervening 16 years, the criteria for earning continuing education points (CEPs) have remained largely static. In a number of cases, the Certification Program manager has fielded requests to award CEPs for activities not explicitly addressed in the original materials on continuing education. Quite a few of these requests have been granted, but the overall structure for awarding CEPs has remained the same.

For that reason, a year ago the Certification Committee created a Continuing Education Task Force to consider changes in the continuing education criteria, so that they might better reflect the realities of today’s translation profession and marketplace. In July 2019, the task force presented its recommendations to the Board, which approved the changes. A few tweaks were subsequently made and approved by the Board when it met during the Annual Conference in Palm Springs. The changes took effect at the beginning of this year.

Here’s a summary of what’s new:

Exemption for Age 60+: Previously, certified translators (CTs) were exempted from reporting CEPs once they reached the age of 60. Now, the reporting requirement continues regardless of age. This means that CTs who are 60 years of age or older must submit CE points, but are exempt from paying the recertification fee. This change does not apply to those who already claimed the over 60 exemption in the past, or to those born before January 1, 1963.

Online Courses: Previously, conferences, courses, workshops, and seminars on translation and interpreting (whether online or onsite) were reported as Category A (which earns the highest number of points). Now, this applies only to interactive online events. Non-interactive online courses must be reported as Category B (independent study). Proof that an online course was interactive must be submitted to qualify for Category A.

Other Category A Changes: Events are capped at no more than five points per day (one hour = one point), or up to 10 points for multi-day events. Previously, it was possible to earn points by reading articles in the ATA Conference Proceedings, but this possibility has now been eliminated.

Category B (Independent Study): The maximum reportable points for this category has been lowered from 15 points to five points per reporting period. Also, the ATA Independent Study Verification Paper that was already required for each activity must now be accompanied by a statement of how the activity relates to the CT’s professional development.

Category F: This category allowed points for “translating and interpreting work experience involving particularly challenging assignments, allowing the member to expand his/her translation and interpreting capabilities.” The Continuing Education Task Force
found this to be especially vague and difficult to verify, so this category has been eliminated.

Category G (Now Category F): This category related to membership in professional associations, allowing one point per membership up to a maximum of four points per reporting period. As of 2020, the maximum per reporting period is three points, and this is limited to associations “related to the translating and interpreting professions, other than ATA.” CTs may also receive CEPs for membership in professional associations related to their work as translators in a specialized field (e.g., law, medicine, and engineering). In addition, proof of membership must be provided for three consecutive years during the reporting period. In the case of specialized fields, a statement of how membership in the association relates to the CT’s work must also be submitted.

Approving Events for Awarding CEPs: In recent years, the Certification Program manager has spent an increasing amount of time processing seemingly frivolous requests for approval to award CEP points for events that have little or nothing to do with translation. To address this situation, the new policy states that any ATA individual or corporate member may apply free of charge to have an activity or event approved for awarding CEPs. Nonmember entities may apply for such approval (for a fee) only if they are nonprofit organizations or educational institutions involved in the translating and interpreting professions. Nonmember for-profit entities may not apply for or receive approval for awarding ATA CEPs.

Nonmembers: In the event that ATA membership is eliminated as a requirement for earning and maintaining certification, nonmember CTs will have to satisfy the same reporting requirements for maintaining certification as member CTs (proof of 20 CEPs every three years). Nonmembers would be required to pay the review fee regardless of age, and the certification renewal fee for nonmember CTs would be higher than that paid by ATA members.

ATA recognizes that because of the three-year reporting period, there may be individuals who planned to claim points for activities that have now been eliminated, or for which the point cap has been lowered. The Certification Program manager (contact caron@atanet.org) is willing to work on a case-by-case basis with anyone who believes they have been unfairly disadvantaged by any of these changes with respect to an upcoming reporting deadline.

On a related note, it has been proposed that an online system for logging certification points be made available to members, so stay tuned for news about that. Finally, see http://bit.ly/ATA-CE-Record for full information about continuing education requirements.


David Stephenson, CT is the chair of ATA’s Certification Committee. An ATA-certified German>English, Dutch>English, and Croatian>English translator, he has been an independent translator for over 30 years, specializing in civil litigation and creative nonfiction. Contact: david@stephensontranslations.com.

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