New NAATI certification scheme

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At the end of this year, NAATI (the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters) will change its qualifications from accreditations to certifications.

Basically, the standard professional benchmark for translators in Australia has been a NAATI accreditation, a requirement for all translations submitted to Australian authorities.

From January 2018, this will change to a certification. There will still be the same examinations (for the most part), with the same high standard required to pass in order to practise. So what's the difference?

It's all in the name.

The existing accreditations will continue, indefinitely for those who qualified prior to 2007, and for up to three years for those from 2007 onwards. The logic for the name-swap is this: prior to 2007, once a translator or interpreter had passed the exam, there was no way for NAATI to guarantee that he or she was working continuously, maintaining the necessary skills to ensure quality. So NAATI introduced the revalidation process, whereby practitioners had to 'revalidate' their accreditation every three years, by logging a certain number of words or hours over that period.

(If you're wondering, I passed my exams in November 2006, and my accreditations are therefore for life. I will transition to certification for my main direction, French to English.)

Although unfair and imperfect, this change was at least a step in the right direction.

Now, to remove the disparity among practitioners, NAATI has decided to devalue its accreditations in favour of the new 'certification', under which all practitioners must revalidate. Another step in the right direction: now you can be sure that every practitioner in the NAATI directory is currently practising and maintaining their skills. 

I wouldn't say it's a perfect system - relying on quantity to determine quality - but it is certainly an improvement on the whole. If our clients can be sure all NAATI practitioners are up-to-date that's surely a good thing. And with more value, both perceived and real, it's a win for everyone.

Lauren Broom