National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters
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The National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters Ltd (NAATI) is the national standards and accreditation body for translators and interpreters in Australia. It is the only agency that issues accreditations for practitioners who wish to work in this profession in Australia. The company is jointly owned by the Commonwealth, State and Territory governments of Australia.
NAATI's primary purpose is to set and maintain high national standards in translating and interpreting to enable the existence of a pool of accredited translators and interpreters responsive to the changing needs and demography of the Australian community.
NAATI's work enhances the translation and interpreting industry’s competitiveness and contributes to a community demand for everyone to be able to communicate and interact with each other.
Levels of Accreditation
In 1992 the NAATI Board of Directors approved the new translator/interpreter levels of accreditation. The new levels were fully implemented by July 1994. Further, NAATI phased out accreditation at the paraprofessional translation level in high and middle demand languages after 31 December 1994. Languages of special community need for recent immigrant and refugee arrivals and for the Australian Indigenous languages were excluded from being phased out at the paraprofessional level.
Since 1994, the designations for practitioners accredited by NAATI are as follows:
- Paraprofessional Translator
- Paraprofessional Interpreter
- Advanced Translator
- Conference Interpreter
- Advanced Translator (Senior)
- Conference Interpreter (Senior)
The definitions of these categories are as follows:
This represents a level of competence in translation for the purpose of producing a translated version of non-specialised information. Practitioners at this level are encouraged to proceed to the professional levels of accreditation. It involves the translation of very simple texts, which do not contain technical or specialized information or terminology.
This is the paraprofessional level and represents a level of competence in interpreting for the purpose of general conversations. Paraprofessional Interpreters generally undertake the interpretation of non-specialist dialogues. Practitioners at this level are expected to proceed to the professional levels of accreditation.
This is the first professional level and represents the minimum level of competence for professional interpreting. Interpreters convey the full meaning of the information from the source language into the target language in the appropriate style and register. Interpreters at this level are capable of interpreting across a wide range of subjects involving dialogues at specialist consultations. They are also capable of interpreting presentations by the consecutive mode. Their specialisations may include banking, law, health, and social and community services.
Translators at this level work across the same range of subjects as interpreters and they too may choose to specialise. They convey the full meaning of the information from the source language into the target language in the appropriate style and register. Translators are qualified to translate into one language only or into both languages, depending upon their accreditation.
This is the advanced professional level and represents the competence to handle complex, technical and sophisticated interpreting. Conference Interpreters practise both consecutive and simultaneous interpreting in diverse situations, including at conferences, high-level negotiations, and court proceedings. Conference Interpreters operate at levels compatible with recognized international standards, and may choose to specialise in certain areas.
This is the advanced professional level and represents the competence to handle complex, technical and sophisticated translation. Advanced Translators handle complex, technical and sophisticated material, compatible with recognised international standards. They too may choose to specialise in certain areas. Advanced translators are accredited to translate either into one language only or into both languages, depending upon their accreditation.
Conference Interpreter (Senior) and Advanced Translator (Senior)
This is the highest level of NAATI accreditation and reflects both competence and experience. Conference Interpreters (Senior) and Advanced Translators (Senior) are Conference Interpreters and Advanced Translators with a level of excellence in their field, recognised through demonstrated extensive experience and leadership.
There are two other categories of credentials awarded by NAATI:
The Language Aide credential is used in both the public and private sectors to determine eligibility for Language Allowances. The Language Aide qualification is appropriate for persons who are required to use a minimum knowledge of English and another language for the purposes of simple communication in either language, in the workplace. An individual with a Language Aide credential is not qualified to act as an interpreter or translator.
The Language Aide credential is awarded on the basis of performance on a test. Applicants may be sponsored by their employer to sit the test, with the employer being invoiced for the cost of the test and informed of the results.
This is granted in emerging languages or languages with very low community demand for which NAATI does not offer accreditation. The granting of NAATI recognition is an acknowledgement that an individual has recent and regular experience as a translator and/or interpreter with no defined skill level.
Why NAATI Accreditation is Important in Australia
Accreditation is an acknowledgement that an individual has demonstrated the ability to meet the professional standards required by the translation and interpreting industry. NAATI assesses translation and interpreting professionals against these standards so that English-speaking and non-English speaking Australians can interact effectively with each other, particularly when accessing medical, government and other services.
NAATI accreditation permits translators and interpreters to quickly and easily demonstrate to clients and agencies their level of skill and ability. Many employers will expect practitioners to have accreditation – it is difficult to get translating and interpreting work without it.
- A quality assurance scheme
- A peak non-government body (though the owners are the nine Australian governments)
- A pioneer in the world of certifying translators and interpreters
Many government departments in Australia require identification and other documents in a Language Other Than English (LOTE) to be translated by a NAATI accredited translator. Translators and interpreters who hold NAATI accreditation can be found through the NAATI Practitioners Directory
There are several ways to gain NAATI accreditation, including:
- Sitting a NAATI assessment test
- Passing a NAATI approved course
- Providing evidence of a tertiary translating and interpreting qualification gained overseas
- Providing evidence of advanced standing or international professional memberships
Eligibility Requirements for Testing
NAATI tests on an on-demand basis. In order to be eligible for a test, candidates must meet a number of eligibility criteria based on the test level for which they are applying for. At the Paraprofessional level the criteria include having general education equivalent to at least 4 years of Australian secondary school and proficiency in both languages. At the Professional level the criteria to be eligible include general education to degree or diploma level in any field and/or NAATI accreditation as a Paraprofessional Interpreter in the language they are seeking accreditation (at the Professional Interpreter and Translator levels).
Accreditation at the levels of Conference Interpreter, Advanced Translator (Senior) and Conference Interpreter (Senior) is currently unavailable through the testing method. Accreditation testing at the Advanced Translator level is available in only a limited number of languages.
How to Pass the Test
The majority of NAATI accreditation test candidates will need to self-assess their current skills and knowledge. NAATI does not provide training, however, it does offer short workshops and samples of accreditation tests that can help candidates determine their readiness to sit a NAATI accreditation test. A NAATI accreditation test is not a language test; it is a test to see if you have the skills and knowledge to translate or interpret at a particular level.
Neither is the testing easy. NAATI has a responsibility to ensure that accredited practitioners have the skills to do the job, so the interpreting and translating needs of all Australians are met. You may not pass the test. Many people have to attempt the test more than once, and some never pass. Those who do pass the test have usually done extensive preparation to develop their translating or interpreting skills.
Languages Available for Testing
All accreditation tests involve English and a Language Other Than English (LOTE). Accreditation testing is currently available in the following LOTEs:
Albanian, Amharic, Arabic, Armenian, Assyrian, Auslan, Bengali, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Burmese, Cantonese, Croatian, Czech, Dari, Dinka, Dutch, Filipino, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hakka (interpreter only), Hazaragi, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Khmer, Korean, Lao, Macedonian, Malay, Maltese, Mandarin, Nepali, Nuer, Oromo, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Pushto, Romanian, Russian, Samoan, Serbian, Sinhalese, Slovak, Somali, Spanish, Swahili, Tamil, Tetum (interpreter only), Thai, Tigrinya, Tongan, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu, Vietnamese.
Revalidation is the established process by which translators and interpreters with NAATI accreditation demonstrate at regular intervals that they remain active and committed to the translation and interpreting industry. From 1 July 2012, NAATI accreditations with an expiry date will require revalidation. Before the expiry of the accreditation, practitioners are required to provide evidence of continuing work practice and professional development to revalidate their accreditation for a further three-year period.
Revalidation acts as a 'quality' seal that shows that practitioners are:
- Consistently working as a translation or interpreting professional
- Constantly developing their ethical decision making and professional skills
- Maintaining their language and vocabulary
- Contributing to the overall translating and interpreting profession
If a practitioner does not apply for revalidation or does not meet the revalidation criteria, the accreditation will lapse.