A certification through the American Translators Association, or ATA, is obtained by passing the organization's certification exam, as of May 2015. Requirements for certifications through other organizations vary.
A person must be fluent in at least two languages to receive a translator's certification. He also typically needs at least a bachelor's degree and a certain amount of professional translation experience.
He can earn his degree in a specific language or earn a degree that focuses on translation. Translation degree programs are beneficial because they often focus on using the language in a business, legal or commercial setting.
To gain professional translation experience, a person can volunteer or intern. Organizations that often provide volunteer opportunities for translators include hospitals and the Red Cross.
The ATA requires education and experience before allowing a person to take the certification exam. There are multiple options depending on a person's background. If he has at least a bachelor's degree in any field, he can take the exam once he has at least two years of translation experience. If he has less than a bachelor's degree, at least five years of experience is required.
The ATA exam is a three-hour, open-book test. It contains three passages, and the test taker must translate two. It's graded on a pass/fail system, and about 80 percent of test takers fail.