You Do the Math: Continuing Education Points

Whether your certification certificate is newly minted or dusty, all ATA-certified translators (CT) must maintain their CT credential by accruing continuing education points (aka CEPs). This process is known as “re-certification.” Since re-certification is not an annual occurrence, some of us lose track of what we need to do and when we need to do it. So, here’s a brief rundown of what you should know.

Who, What, When: ATA-certified translators must submit proof of 20 CEPs every three years.

Why: Certification is not “one and done.” Like other professional certifications, it requires us to stay current with the profession and expand our knowledge.

How: Any number of ways!

  • All ATA national and chapter educational events qualify for CEPs automatically.
  • Taking and/or teaching a course or seminar related to translation and interpreting is another excellent way
    to get points.
  • Acquiring business skills also counts, such as workshops through SCORE (the Service Corps of Retired Executives) or your local Chambers of Commerce.
  • Release your inner author and write an article for The ATA Chronicle or another professional publication.
  • Commit to ATA’s School Outreach Program or become a Mentoring Buddy.

All of these activities will garner you CEPs.

Who is responsible for tracking and reporting CEPs? You are. ATA should notify you before your CEP report is due, but you can easily check your status on ATA’s website. Just log in under the “Members Only” section and check your membership information. You’ll see something like this:

Your Membership Expires on 01-01-2018

You Belong to 4 Division(s)

Your Last Invoice was Dated 08-24-2016

Your Continuing Education Points expire on 07-01-2017 Submit Now

Simply click on “Submit Now” and you’ll be directed to the appropriate online page. You can download the CEP form as a Word or PDF file to track your activities over the three-year period so you don’t forget anything when your expiration date rolls around. This form contains all the information you need about the CE requirements and the types of activities that qualify. (These guidelines can also be accessed by selecting the following: Already Certified—Report your CE Points—then, at the end of the text, click on—Approval Request Form for ATA Continuing Education Points.)

Once you’ve filled out the form, the final step is payment. Payment? Yes, there is a $30 charge for re-certification to cover the time Headquarters staff spend verifying and processing the CEP records. Verifying? Yes, again! ATA audits a random selection of the records submitted, so be sure to keep your own records of the activities for which you are claiming credit.

When you’ve finished and submitted the form, you’ll get a confirmation email that reads as follows:

Dear ATA member,

This message is to inform you that we have received your online continuing education record. ATA will contact you only if there are questions about your submission or if you are selected for audit. Here is a quick summary of what you have submitted:

Category A: x
Category B: x
Category C: x

If you don’t receive this email, an error may have occurred, so be sure to contact ATA’s Certification Manager, Caron Mason ( Note that your submission will take 7–10 business days to be processed, so your profile won’t immediately appear to be updated on the website.

If you’re planning an event or applying for CEPs for individual activities, be sure to consult ATA’s guidelines cited above on how to assess the number of CEPs you may offer or claim. Note that a university course has a maximum of five points, and a single event, even if it lasts several days, has a maximum of 10 points. ATA’s Annual Conference, for example, which spans three days, is worth 10 points. If you indicate a number that is higher than the maximum allowed for a field, the CE report will be rejected automatically. If you’re claiming CEPs for an event or activity not covered in the guidelines, check with Caron Mason at Headquarters first.

The easiest way to track your CEPs is to keep a folder (paper or electronic) as soon as you get your initial certification (or when you re-certify). Put a copy of the CEP record form that you downloaded from the ATA site in that folder. Every time you complete a continuing education activity, put the backup paperwork in the folder and record it on the CEP record. This way you’ll always know how many CEPs you have and how many more you may need. When it’s time to turn them in, you’ll have everything in one place ready to input online. If audited, you’ll also have everything together in one folder with no need to “dig things up” from the past three years.

All CEPs must have been earned within the three-year period beginning with certification or re-certification. So, in the example above, where the CEPs expire in July 2017, only activities performed between July 2014 and July 2017 can be claimed. You cannot claim credit for activities or events that took place before you were certified or before your previous re-certification deadline. After all, the purpose of continuing education is to stay current!

As with all rules, this one has an exception: certified members who have reached age 60 are exempt from this requirement. ATA Headquarters also has the authority to extend the deadline for accruing CE points, upon request, for up to one year based upon extenuating circumstances, such as long-term illness, undue hardship, and military duty.

All the information you need can be found on ATA’s website under the FAQ section of the Certification tab ( If you have further questions, the staff at ATA Headquarters is there to assist. With a little planning, this math shouldn’t be a problem. 

Michèle Hansen, ATA-certified French>English translator

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