Why join a professional association for translators and interpreters?

June 15, 2015 by
Why join a professional association for translators and interpreters?

Image source: Unsplash Sergee Bee

If you’re a professional translator or interpreter and keen on developing your career, it makes sense to join a professional association. You might even consider joining more than one.

Here’s why I joined four (!) professional associations for translators, and some pointers to help decide which ones might be right for you.

How can a professional association help you as a translator or interpreter?

Joining a professional association is a significant career step. It’s a way of saying to yourself and others that you’re serious about what you do, your work is valuable and you’re a skilled professional. Different associations for translators and interpreters have different entrance requirements, and some have multiple membership categories to take career progression into account. As well as increased professionalism, translation associations offer lots of benefits for members, including:

  • Directory listings (a big draw card!) – many associations (e.g. ATA, ITI, IAPTI, BDÜ) have directories of their members, which clients can use to find a translator or interpreter.
  • Certification – some associations (e.g. ATA, ITI) offer assessments and certification programmes, which can provide useful credentials.
  • Networking – joining an association can be a great way to get in touch with local, national or international colleagues.
  • Professional development – you may be able to attend the association conference or other events, training sessions and webinars.
  • Resources – many associations have a members-only section on their website that includes copies of their journal, as well as tools, resources and discounts for members.
  • Code of ethics – most associations have a code of ethics that can give guidance to members in tricky situations.
  • Promoting the interests of translators and interpreters – associations support the interests of their members, which is another good reason to join. Some represent translators and interpreters only, while others also have translation agencies as corporate members.

Which association is best for you?

This was a difficult question for me, which is why I ended up joining four associations! But it might be a bit more straight-forward for you.

First of all, it’s a good idea to belong to your local or national association for translators and interpreters. For me, this is the NZSTI. It means I can attend local events for translators and take advantage of discounts on things like professional indemnity insurance. If your clients are also locally based, you might not need to consider joining another association.

However, many translators have clients in different countries, so it can be worth joining an international association, or one in your source or target language country.

The umbrella association for translators’ associations, the International Federation of Translators (FIT), provides an online directory of associations for translators and interpreters. There is also a useful listing on Wikipedia, which includes associations that are not members of FIT.

As well as NZSTI, I decided to join ITI in the UK, DVÜD in Germany and IAPTI, which is an international association – just to cover all my bases!

Here are a few of the bigger associations which may be of interest:

International Association of Professional Translators and Interpreters

IAPTI has an international presence and focus. It offers member profiles and a directory, professional development and support, webinars, relevant discounts and a forum to network with other members.

UK Institute of Translating and Interpreting (ITI)

ITI is a UK association for translators and interpreters. It provides professional certification, member profiles and a directory, networking and professional development, discounts, forums and specialist networks.

American Translators Association (ATA)

In the US, ATA also offers certification, profiles and a directory, divisions for different languages and specialisations, regional chapters in various states, discounts, networking and professional development.

How about you?

Are you a member of a professional association for translators or interpreters? If so, which one(s) did you join, and why? Let me know in the comments below.

Please note that I do not have a commercial relationship with any of the organisations mentioned above.

By Jayne Fox BSc MITI, German-English translator. 
For German-English medical translation – and translation of corporate communications.

You might also like:

About the author: Jayne Fox is a German-English translator specialising in corporate communications for sci-tech and health care. She works with German and Swiss organisations to help them communicate effectively with international audiences.

Facebook Twitter Google+ Xing 

Share this:


  1. Allison Wright

    Thank you, Jayne, for your clear, balanced article packed with useful links for all translators and interpreters. The first translators' association I joined was SATI, the South African Translators' Institute, because it was geographically the closest one to me when I lived in Zimbabwe. I also joined SATI (affiliated to FIT/IFT) with a view to obtaining translation accreditation, which I did (Fr-En and De-En). I have maintained by SATI membership even though I moved permanently to Portugal as a means of keeping my accreditations alive, but also because in the intervening years I have developed a certain loyalty for this organisation, and I am still involved in its affairs. I joined the recently constituted APTRAD, the Portuguese Association of Translators and Interpreters straight away not only because of my geographical proximity to it, but because I feel an affinity with its aims and objectives. In the interests of keeping my comment short (!), I hope you don't mind me sharing a blog on memberships I wrote a few months ago here: http://www.allisonwrighttranslations.com/blog---allison-writes/memberships
    Like many other aspects of our profession, I believe membership of a reputable association is essential, and something which merits serious consideration and attention.

    • Jayne Fox

      Thanks Allison - sometimes it makes a lot of sense to join multiple associations! Like you, I think it's a really important step. Thanks for sharing your post on the subject.

  2. Cherry Shelton-Mills

    Jayne, I agree totally about the importance of joining at least one association. I was given some really valuable advice through the association when I started as a freelancer and it is good to give something back now by volunteering.
    Though I'm surprised you don't mention the more established translators' & interpreters' associations in Germany, eg BDUE and ADUE Nord.

    The BDUE is very much involved in promoting the association and its members to industry. The directories for specialist fields are an excellent idea and worth the investment. The number of CPD events is impressive, especially the subject-related training, and not found much here unfortunately.

    • Jayne Fox

      Thanks for your comment about the BDÜ and ADÜ Nord, Cherry! The SFT in France is also well worth a mention.

  3. Valeria Ramírez

    Dear Jayne:

    I am very happy for having found your blog because it is really interesting and useful. I have been working as a translator since 2009, mainly in medical and technical-scientific fields, and COTICH (Colegio de Traductores e Intérpretes de Chile) is the only group that I have joined about four years ago, but I am very interested in becoming a member of an international association.
    Could you, please, tell me what the way for achieving this goal is?

  4. Zeki

    Hi Jayne,

    I have BA and MA degrees on international relations (in other words, I don't have an education on translation) But I've been translating from English into Turkish since 2002, when I graduated from the University in Turkey. Now I feel the need to fill that gap with, a "Diploma in Translation" from a university or an institution recognized worldwide. However, as I don't have opportunity to travel abroad, (to the U.K. or elsewhere), it should be a distance learning.

    I could only find City University distance learning course (which prepares candidates for the "famous" CIOL exam) and awards a certificate upon completion of this 1 year course (3 modules, 3 months each), but I dont know if it would meet expectations of my clients for a translation education background.

    If you advise to do it in my target language, I can also look for those options in my country, but I thought it would be better to do it in my source language.

    In these circumstances, what options do you recommend?
    Seeing that you are very knowledgeable about this profession, I thought you might give me an idea.


    • Jayne Fox

      I think it's a good idea to take a course in your target language country as it's likely to impress your clients. I've heard good things about the City University course. There are a some others listed in this article, which is a bit old and out of date, but still has useful info: http://translationjournal.net/journal/36distance.htm
      All the best for your studies!

  5. oseni M.aleonokhua

    Good afternoon Jayne, am very impressed with your well acticulated article. I am a Nigeria, I graduated as a French linguiste, well, it's not my mother tongue but am glad at what I studied in my university education. Please, I know u can as well me meet my dreams of studying that particular course,though the approve it as a second official language but both the government and private owned entity seems not to the importance of the language in our present economy. Just as you have said that joining a professional association is a key to montgage oneself into his dream career. So in essence I don't really know if any profession association exist except for the school lecturers. Please I really want you to help me kick-start my goals of achieving great things in my career, and help me with active professional associations both local and international in French language.
    Oseni M. Aleonokhua

    • Jayne Fox

      Hi Oseni, thanks for your comment. Have a look at http://iapti.org/ - they are an international association and might be of interest to you. Wishing you all the best!

  6. Catherine Demaison-Doherty

    Hello Oseni, for French, in France, it's Société Française des Traducteurs at https://www.sft.fr/
    Bonne chance!

  7. Catherine Demaison-Doherty

    Jayne, I meant to say thank you for your article. I endorse it wholeheartedly. I have never regretted joining AUSIT (Australian Institute of Interpreters and Translators). I think it's really important because you will be supported, and your clients will see that you are part of something recognised and above board. Like you I would stress that being seen as adhering to an association's Code of Ethics, for example in the area of Confidentiality, will help to to build trust with clients.

Leave a Comment

German-to-English translator specialising in medical and technical translation and corporate communications
Welcome to my blog, Between Translations! I'm Jayne Fox, German-English translator specialising in sci-tech, health care & corporate communications.
I work with clients from around the world. From my location in New Zealand, I translate overnight for European customers.
See my websites for more information.
Sci-tech translation and corporate comms: www.foxdocs.biz
Medical translation: www.jfmedicaltranslation.com
Email: jayne(at)foxdocs.biz