Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is ACTA?

ACTA stands for America Commercial Translation Association the US's premier independent, professional association for freelance and salaried translators and interpreters, translation and interpreting companies and educational bodies teaching translation and interpreting. ACTA is a professional membership association and standard-setting institute that can also put potential clients in touch with qualified translation and interpreting service providers.

2. What ACTA is not?

ACTA is not a translation and interpreting company nor is it a teaching college or university. Please do not apply directly to ACTA for posts related to translation and interpreting and associated services, or for freelance work (please see question 5). If you wish to apply for membership of ACTA, please consult the Join ACTA pages on this website or contact ACTA office  for further details.

3. Can ACTA help me find the translation or interpreting services for my particular requirements? 

ACTA can assist by referring you, free of charge, to its members who are qualified, experienced, freelance translators and interpreters with relevant specialist knowledge. These individuals have passed ACTA admission standards, and uphold a Code of Professional Conduct monitored by a Professional Standards Committee.
ACTA  can also refer enquirers to translation/interpreting companies who are its corporate members. Such companies are often able to supply a range of services outside the scope of most individual translators and interpreters. Corporate members of ACTA also abide by a Code of Professional Conduct. ACTA itself is not a translation company nor an agency taking commission on assignments. It does not set fixed rates of remuneration for its members, who will specify their own charges.

In addition to translation or interpreting, many members of ACTA offer one or more of the following services: language training, proof-reading, abstracting, DTP/typesetting, editing, revising, subtitling, voiceovers, transcription of tapes, software localization, and copywriting.
To find a supplier to meet your needs, in the first instance please access our online Directory of Members. The most comprehensive directory of its kind in the US, it allows the user to specify a range of search criteria to help locate suppliers meeting their specific needs. Alternatively, please call the ACTA office for help.


4. I need an "official" or "certified" translation, can ACTA help me? 

For most purposes, this usually requires either using the services of a sworn translator (this would be a translator sworn before a court in a non-US jurisdiction). You can also have the translation notarized before a Notary Public or Notary Scrivener (usually listed in Yellow Pages). ACTA publishes a set of guidelines and seals for self-certification by its members.


5. How can I find work as a translator and interpreter? 

You may find it useful to read some of ACTA's careers orientated literature, which can be obtained using our Publications Order Form or downloaded from this website. Freelance work and staff vacancies in translation/interpreting companies or in other organizations are often advertised in the national press, and especially in specialist trade media. These include ACTA's own bulletin (free to ACTA members), Multilingual and many newsgroups/organizations’ websites on the World Wide Web. You can also advertise your own services in different media, including some of those mentioned above.
Work is also obtained by referrals from colleagues, networking and approaching companies in relevant sectors directly. Company details can be obtained from various sources, such as business/local library directories, Yellow Pages and mailing list companies. Further information can be found by exploring both the ACTA Resources and Publications sheets.


6. Can I be a member of ACTA if I am resident abroad or not a US citizen?

You may become an ACTA member even if you are not a US citizen. You may also be a member if you are resident abroad. Although there is no legal obligation on individuals to join ACTA to be able to practice as translators or interpreters in the US, membership offers a range of benefits (see question 14 below), not least of which is that many companies prefer to use ACTA members to meet their needs. ACTA does not advise on taxation issues (e.g. VAT) directly, refer to the Resources sheet on the website for other organizations to contact and also some useful information for those setting up or running small businesses.


7. Does ACTA offer courses in translation/interpreting? 

ACTA is not a teaching college or university. It does not offer undergraduate or postgraduate diplomas/degrees in translation or interpreting. However it does offer short professional development courses and workshops aimed at developing the business, linguistic and technological skills of translators and interpreters. It also holds a prestigious annual conference. All ACTA and other non-ACTA translation or interpreting-related events are announced in the Calendar of Events of the ACTA bulletin (available on subscription) and also through the Events pages on this website. ACTA produces a list of translation and interpreting courses available in the US, available as a download from this site.


8. I want to study on a translation/interpreting course in the US, but will my foreign (non-US) qualifications be recognized? 

You should consult the admissions department or the department running the course at the institution where you hope to study to see whether your current qualifications are acceptable and meet their minimum entry requirements. You may also find useful information available from NARIC (National Academic Recognition Information Centre) whose contact details can be found on the Resources sheet.


9. Can ACTA recommend a postgraduate course in translation and interpreting? 

ACTA cannot recommend one postgraduate level qualification over another one. You should examine each qualification and course on offer carefully. Consider the structure of the course, the qualifications of those teaching, try and talk to current and previous students and find out where the majority of students who pass out of the course are now employed. AGCAS (Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services) have produced a survey of postgraduate T/I courses that may also be of interest. Refer to the Resources sheet.


10. Is it possible to work as a translator or interpreter without having a degree or a specialized language qualification (e.g. translation/interpreting diploma)? 

It is possible (especially in the case where no high-level preparatory courses and qualifications exist for certain languages), but not necessarily easy. You would generally need to have strong, prior, relevant work experience in translation and interpreting and may be asked to validate your specialist linguistic competencies through tests demanded by potential clients (e.g. translation companies).


11. Do I need professional indemnity insurance as a translator or interpreter? 

ACTA has always wished to be regarded as the country's premier professional body for the freelance translator and interpreter. We continually strive to demonstrate that the use of an ACTA member guarantees both quality and integrity of service.
ACTA is now in the enviable position where members can take advantage of specially negotiated rates with a leading insurer.


12. How do I advertise in the ACTA bulletin, or in ACTA's Directory of Translators and Interpreters? 

We have a range of advertising possibilities available within the bi-monthly ACTA bulletin and on the website. For full details, including rates, refer to bulletin pages on the website.


13. How can I get in touch with other national translation and interpreting associations? 

A good place to start is to contact FIT (International Federation of Translators) which is a federation of many such bodies The Translator's Handbook, published by ASLIB email also lists some contact details for other associations.

14. Why should I join the ACTA? 

Membership is available at a number of levels.
Benefits of membership include:
Professional recognition. Being a membe is a mark of quality.
Professional development. ACTA and our Network and Regional Groups run short courses and events to develop your business and linguistic skills, with discounted access for members. Participation in the language Networks and Regional groups' activities can offer invaluable support and help solve problems, as well as being a source of new referrals for work.
Professional solidarity. ACTA campaigns to promote protect and represent your interests.

15. How do I join the ACTA? 

For details of membership criteria and application forms, please contact ACTA office or download the necessary forms from this website.
This document (and a list of useful resources) is also available for download as a pdf (portable document format).
Frequently Asked Questions about ACTA and Translation/Interpreting
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