In Australia, the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI) is responsible for the accreditation, or credentialing, of interpreters and translators.  Credentials are available in over 60 languages, including Auslan.

In interpreting, three levels are available.  They are:

  • Paraprofessional Interpreter
  • Professional Interpreter
  • Conference Interpreter

There are a number of pathways to obtaining NAATI accreditation.  These include:

  • successfully passing a NAATI assessment examination
  • successfully completing a NAATI approved tertiary course (in Australia)
  • a successful review by NAATI of interpreting or translating credentials and/or qualifications held from overseas

It is important to understand that NAATI accreditation is not a qualification nor is it an indicator of experience; it is a credential that is issued by NAATI to recognise that the interpreter or translator has satisfactorily met the requirements for that particular level of accreditation.

This means that someone who has had, for example, a NAATI Professional Interpreter credential for six months is “identical” to someone who has had it for ten years.  As well, it means that someone who has gained their credential by passing a NAATI examination is “identical” to someone who has successfully completed a NAATI approved tertiary course.

In other words, a NAATI credential on its own is not a sole predictor of whether an interpreter or translator is the most suitable practitioner for a given job.  Other factors such as experience, qualification and ongoing professional development also need to be considered.

Having said this, NAATI credentials are the only officially accepted credentials for the professions of interpreting and translating in Australia.  They are an instrument that provide quality assurance to consumers of interpreting and translating services as well as providing consumers of these services with a starting point when engaging an interpreter or translator.

Within the Auslan-English interpreting sector, all major interpreting agencies require a NAATI Paraprofessional Interpreter credential as the minimum level to be employed.  Unfortunately, in the wider sector, some organisations choose to employ unaccredited individuals to work as “interpreters”.

ASLIA does not support this practice, also viewing a Paraprofessional level of accreditation as the minimum acceptable level to be employed as an interpreter.  Additionally, ASLIA strongly recommends that any potential employers of interpreters consider the interpreter’s experience, training and reputation during the recruitment process and, in many interpreting domains (i.e.  legal, education, mental health), ASLIA’s policy is to employ interpreters with NAATI Professional Interpreter credentials.  Within the NAATI framework, this level is considered to be the minimum level of competence for interpreting.  Paraprofessional credentials are viewed as suitable for undertaking non-specialists dialogues and NAATI expects practitioners to attain their Professional Interpreter credential within nine years of accreditation at the Paraprofessional level.

For information about the NAATI Revalidation system, click here