There was recently a question on LinkedIn, in the Freelance Translators Lounge that caught my interest. The question was “What benefit is there in joining the American Translators Association from the translators point of view?” Since a membership in ATA has given my business and myself so much, I wanted to share some benefits here.
1. The association itself
American Translators Association (ATA) is one of the largest national associations for translators and interpreters. ATA was founded in 1959 and now has more than 11,000 members in 90 countries. This makes it a truly international association with an enormous network of translation professionals all over the world.
2. Job opportunities
When joining ATA you can create a profile in an online directory of translation and interpreting services. This directory is searchable by language combination, country, name, certification and other attributes. This listing improves your exposure to potential clients and increases the number of job opportunities that are presented to you. Many companies, especially American companies, go to this directory when they are looking for a professional translator (or interpreter).
3. Networking opportunities
Ted Wozniak, a German to English translator and also a member of ATA, expressed this very well in this discussion: “if I had to select just one benefit from ATA membership, it would be NETWORKING. The various ATA sponsored listservers provide forums for daily interaction with fellow translators/interpreters.” The networking also leads to job opportunities, business insights, and best of all, new friends and colleagues.
4. Continuing education
When I started my translation career, I did not have an education in translation as a background. ATA has provided me enormous support with its supply of courses and business resources, online, locally and at the annual conference. The threshold for becoming a translator is low, but to become a professional, successful translator you need a lot more than good language skills; you need business skills, technical skills, education in translation tools, proofreading skills and much more. ATA can provide training in all of this. The monthly journal “The Chronicle” keeps you updated on industry news and resources.
5. Business support
Many translators or interpreters are one-man businesses or independent contractors and the business world can be tough. Who can you trust? Which services are a good fit for your profession or situation? ATA can connect you with select business resources at discounted rates. These resources include financial services, insurance, collection services, payment practices lists and more.
6. Industry news and products
As a member of ATA you receive plenty of information on industry news through the monthly journal “The Chronicle”, the e-newsletter, social media and at the conference. Learn the latest about conferences, tools, professional practices, industry trends networks, people and new publications. You are sure to stay updated on the latest in the industry.
7. The Conference
I know some translators that have never been to one of the ATA Conferences. They feel they cannot afford it or take the time for it. They do not know what they are missing. The annual conference is by far the best boost I have received both for my business and for my sanity. The most common reaction from a first time attendee is “I should have done this long ago.” The ATA Conferences always give you plenty of opportunities for learning and networking and you will get back what you paid in costs many times over afterwards.
ATA has established a certification program that allows translators to demonstrate that they meet certain standards of the translation profession. Translators who pass the examination are certified by ATA in a specific language pair and direction. Obtaining a certification is one way for you to prove your professionalism and language skills.
9. Local organizations
In between the annual conferences you can become involved in one of ATA’s local organizations if you live in the US. They provide information, networking opportunities, and support services to members on the local level, and act as liaisons with the national association. If you are like me, and crave social contact with colleagues, this is a great way to socialize and meet likeminded people on a more frequent basis.
Last but not least, as a member of ATA you show that you take your profession seriously and follow certain standards and ethics. By investing in a membership in a professional organization you increase your credibility and gain valuable information on being a professional linguist.
I hope I have convinced someone to join a professional association like ATA now. I am not affiliated with ATA, although I am a proud member and volunteer. Feel free to contact me if you are not convinced or if you have any questions. I am on my way to this year’s annual ATA Conference, and I very much look forward to it, especially the location. Sayonara rainy and dark Sweden, hello sunny San Diego, at least for a week.