NAATI is phasing out “accreditation” and introducing “certification” for translators and interpreters

What’s in a name you may ask? What is the difference?

Well, not much, both accreditation and certification by NAATI mean the practitioner complies with required standards.

But under the accreditation system, NAATI had two kinds of practitioners. Those who were accredited before 2007 were granted permanent accreditation. Those accredited after 2007 have had to renew their accreditation every three years by demonstrating professional practice and development, and paying a sum of money.

Under the new system to be introduced early next year, all NAATI registered practitioners will have to hold “certification”, and renew that registration every three years.

The deadline is slowly approaching for application for the so-called transition to certification with the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters. Practitioners will be able to lodge an application to transition from October 2017.

Applicants are required to provide proof of their professional practice.  And interpreters will be required to prove their work experience in chuchotage (whispered interpreting) or undertake training in the same.

NAATI is waiving transition fees until 30 June 2018. After this time, expect a fee.

And how is NAATI compelling practitioners with permanent accreditation to toss that in and apply for a certification with an expiry date?

Well, NAATI is not only the regulatory authority for our profession. It also has a huge weight in the market place through its online Directory. Just about everyone requiring translation or interpreting services for government-related purposes eventually sources someone listed in the NAATI directory.

While some practitioners have accused NAATI of taking away what was given for life and of manipulating the market place with unfair advantage, NAATI intends to withdraw its current online Directory in January 2018. The new directory will include only “certified” translators and interpreters. Current NAATI Numbers will be superseded by a new NAATI Practitioner Number.

Translators and interpreters will still be able to practise without transitioning to certification, but they will not appear in the NAATI directory or be searchable through NAATI’s online verification tool.

It remains to be seen whether government agencies and departments will require a certified rather than accredited practitioner to complete a translation for it to be accepted, how many of them and how soon. It also remains to be seen how many translators do transition, especially in the minority languages in low supply.