NAATI Accreditation and the Value of Using a NAATI Translator

Naati Accreditation

Minimise your risks

Achieve consistency

Ensure compliance

Promote cultural inclusion

Introduction – What is NAATI?

If you have been looking at Australian government instructions for presenting foreign based documents at any time in the past, you may have come across the acronym NAATI. You may have wondered just what does NAATI stand for. NAATI stands for the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters and is an Australian organization that sets standards for Australian based translators and interpreters.

Professional translators and interpreters who work in an Australian context normally become accredited after passing tests set by NAATI officials. NAATI accreditation is an essential first step for any translator or interpreter who wishes to make a serious living from their knowledge and expertise in a language other than English.

NAATI accredited translators are necessary for any individual or organization that seeks to translate or present documents in a language other than English to a government department in Australia or, for that matter, to many employers and educational organizations. NAATI accreditation offers the comfort of knowing that the translations performed are of an acceptable standard.

Types of accreditation

If you have been looking for translation services in Australia, you will notice that most offer what are called NAATI document translation services. Basically, this means that if you submit documents for translating into English or from English using these services, they will be translated by a NAATI accredited translator. NAATI has a hierarchy of three different types of NAATI accreditation, so you may need to ask the translation agency at which level of accreditation (NAATI certification) the translator you might use has acquired.

For complex translation work, you may decide to opt for an advanced NAATI certificated translator, but the particular specialisation that the translator is experienced in, such as legal or marketing translation, is at least as important as the NAATI certificate that the translator holds.


Benefits of using a NAATI translator

There are many benefits of using a NAATI translator. In many situations in which you need to provide translated documents, you may have no choice other than to seek out a NAATI accredited translator. The main entities that insist on NAATI translation are government agencies, especially those that deal with immigration and citizenship applications. The benefit of insisting on a NAATI translation for these agencies is that they can guarantee that the translated documents meet the standards that they require.

NAATI translators are not necessary for many private business translation projects, but because NAATI translators have all proven that they have reached an acceptable standard of translation expertise, there is significant benefit from choosing an individual freelancer or a translation agency in Australia that offers NAATI accredited translators.

  • handled by translators with current NAATI translator accreditation
  • politically correct and culturally sensitive
  • treated with sensitivity and confidentiality
  • managed with great professionalism to minimise the risk of disruptions.managed with great professionalism to minimise the risk of disruptions.

What is NAATI certification?

NAATI certification is a system used to designate a translator’s or interpreter’s proficiency in Australia. Two parallel certification pathways are provided for translators and interpreters. For those who wish to acquire NAATI translation accreditation, there are three levels of certification. Each certificate involves being tested against a number of different descriptors (criteria). The descriptors are set out clearly on NAATI’s website so individual translators can check to see where they fit on the scale of certification and understand just what they need to do to reach the level they wish to reach.

What do you need to become a certified translator?The most important skill, of course, is to be fluent in a LOTE, i.e. a language other than English. The level of complexity and fluency needed is quite high. In addition to a good standard of fluency, a thorough understanding of the interaction between culture and language and NAATI’s code of ethics is required. So, if the question “what is NAATI certification” is asked, the answer is that it is a multi levelled series of proficiencies.

The lowest level is of a recognised practising translator. This is usually reserved for those translators who offer translation in a language for which no competencies have yet been devised by NAATI, i.e. unusual languages or those infrequently used. The most common level of certification is the certified translator. This is the level of certification for which most translators of commonly used languages would expect to acquire.

The highest level of certification is the certified advanced translator. This level demands more skill from a translator and would not be attempted until the translator had already proven themselves as a professional translator for several years or was an extremely competent individual who understood just what was necessary to pass the test set for this certificate.


NAATI courses

NAATI courses are offered by most reputable universities and other higher educational organisations in all Australian states and territories. These are designed to allow students from Australia or from overseas to reach sufficient proficiency in their chosen specialism so that they can pass the NAATI certificate test and acquire NAATI accreditation. NAATI translator courses normally aim to achieve a Diploma in Translation or an Advanced Diploma in Translation. Typically these courses last for a single semester i.e. 20 to 24 weeks of intensive training.

A NAATI course fee is higher for a foreign student than an Australian student, but may be worthwhile considering that it can be a route to acquiring permanent residency and the chance of securing lucrative future employment as a NAATI accredited translator.

When describing what is a NAATI course more specifically, it must be emphasised that NAATI itself does not offer courses. They are provided by universities and other educational organisations. Additionally, prospective students are reminded that the Diploma or Advanced Diploma in Translation is not in itself a NAATI certificate, even if it allows the graduate to seek translation jobs that do not involve NAATI accreditation. All good courses take into account the fact that Australian based translators will want to gain NAATI certification so the courses are designed to acquaint students with NAATI credentials and descriptors as well as practice in typical NAATI tests. These NAATI courses must be followed assiduously as there is no guarantee that a graduate will actually be able to pass a NAATI test at the end of it, only that they are better prepared to do so. The pass rate for NAATI certificate tests is abysmally low and is a sign that many people who take the test are not sufficiently prepared to do so, believing wrongly, perhaps, that fluency in a language other than English is all that is required to pass.


The NAATI test

If you are appropriately prepared, you will be ready to apply for one or another of NAATI’s tests. Each NAATI test is at the level you are aiming to reach. For example, the most common level of certification in translation is the certified translator level, for which there is a specifically designed test.

You can find out what is a NAATI test by careful reading of the NAATI website, although if you have been studying for the Diploma in Translation these tests will be part of the curriculum. There is no such thing as a NAATI test for immigration. The tests are for the three levels of translator and the five different levels of interpreter only.

There is a NAATI test fee for each NAATI test. NAATI test fees in Australia are by no means cheap and it is surprising just how many test takers are ill prepared to take the test and yet are prepared to pay the considerable fees involved. Overall, the pass rate for most NAATI tests remains at around 10% of those who sit the test.

If you have learned how to prepare for a NAATI test, either by using the guidelines on the NATI website, from professional experience elsewhere, or by acquiring a Diploma or Advanced Diploma in a recognised educational facility, then you should check the NAATI test dates for the language you are to be tested in. NAATI test dates for 2019 for languages that NAATI deals with have already mostly been notified on the NAATI website.

It must be emphasised that applicants for a NAATI test must be sufficiently prepared or risk wasting time and money. NAATI test sample questions can be downloaded from the NAATI website for those who have not enrolled in a recognised NAATI course.


NAATI test sample questions

It is very useful preparation to tackle NAATI test sample questions before actually sitting a NAATI test. NAATI sample tests can be downloaded from the NAATI website, but note that even if you do tackle these you have no way of knowing whether you have reached the standard for each certificate level descriptor. That’s why you are better enrolling in a course at a university or other institution as this feedback is more readily available. NAATI exam samples are standard fare when following these courses.


NAATI ethics questions and answers

Some of the more difficult questions in a typical NAATI test are those that test knowledge and understanding of the NAATI code of ethics. It is the responses to these questions that often lead to failure for those students who concentrate on familiarity with the language and are not aware that NAATI accreditation demands more from those who seek to acquire it. NAATI code of ethics questions and answers can be downloaded off the NAATI website for practice and this is certainly useful individual preparation for the NAATI certificate test. If you are enrolled at a university, or other institution offering translator or interpreter courses, then practice in NAATI ethics questions and answers will be a standard part of the course structure.


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