Answers to questions provincial CTTIC exam coordinators often receive.
May I take the exam into a language other than my native language?
Yes. However, given the high level of expertise required to pass the exam, you are highly encouraged to write the exam into your native language before attempting to write it into any other language. Please note that your provincial association may also require proof of sufficient experience acquired in the given language combination.
How many times may I take the certification exam and how often?
You may take the exam as often as once a year. If you fail the exam, you are encouraged to work on your weak areas and try practice exams1 before attempting to write the certification exam again.
If I fail, may I appeal?
You may appeal your exam results one time only after the results are provided to you. If you fail the exam, you will receive a comments sheet that shows the type and seriousness of errors for which points were deducted. If you are convinced that a mistake or irregularity occurred in the marking process, or that the process was unfair for other reasons, you may consult with your provincial association and determine if an appeal is appropriate. The cost of an appeal is determined by your provincial society. Please also observe the appeal deadline.
What is the appeal process?
Your provincial association can inform you about the appeal procedure. You will be permitted to view your exam to determine whether you have reasons for an appeal.
What is the average pass rate for the exam?
Average pass rates can vary significantly depending on the language combination involved, and may also fluctuate from year to year. Generally speaking, it can be said that approximately 20% of candidates who take the translation exams pass, while about 70% of those who take the interpretation exams are successful. This is not to say that interpretation exams are easier – far from it – it is likely that applicants for the interpretation exams are much better prepared and have a great deal of practice behind them. Please note that if you fail on your first attempt, it is recommended that you use the opportunity to assess your abilities and work on your weak areas. Then try again and you may succeed on your second or third try.
Who will mark my exam?
Markers are certified professionals in the field with years of experience, not only in the practice of their profession but also in translation/interpretation assessment. They are selected with great care. Markers are encouraged to attend ongoing professional development in their respective fields. CTTIC uses markers from Canada, the USA and other countries.
Don’t the markers want to fail candidates to reduce local competition?
While we occasionally hear this argument, this is highly unlikely given the nature of the double-blind marking process. Neither the marker nor the candidate knows the identity or location of the other. Moreover, exams are marked by two separate markers who confirm error deductions and classifications, all of which must be documented and justified on a comments sheet. Markers are interested in strengthening the profession in general because the more qualified translators/interpreters there are working, the better it is for the profession in general.
I would like to take the exam so what should I do?
If you would like to write a certification exam, please contact your provincial association. Each association has slightly different criteria in place, but most will require membership as a candidate or an associate first, and will also require that you demonstrate some level of experience in the given language combination before being allowed to sit the exam.
If I pass the exam, am I automatically certified?
It will depend on your provincial association. Many associations require that you pay the difference in membership fee to acquire your new membership status. If you pass the exam but do not pay the membership dues to your home association, you do not have the right to call yourself a certified translator.
Do I need to be certified to work as a translator?
No, you do not need to be certified to work as a translator in Canada. However, you do need to be certified to produce certified translations, which are often required for official purposes. In several provinces, it is actually a criminal offence to claim to be certified when you are not.
What are the benefits of becoming certified?
- Added status for you and your work. Many stakeholders (e.g. governments, courts, authorities, require the translators/interpreters they work with to be certified.
- More work and higher income for you
- Protecting the public
- Ensuring that you offer high quality translation or interpretation services
- Demonstrating a high level of competence and professionalism
- You can certify your own translations and do not need to go to a notary public to swear an affidavit regarding your translation.
May I write the CTTIC exam without being a member of a provincial association?
I am already a member of a provincial association so how do I register for the CTTIC exam?
Contact your provincial association directly.
What does the C. Tran. or C.T. title mean?
Certified Translator. It means that the translator has met the highest criteria. Other titles are Certified Terminologist (C.TERM.), Certified Community Interpreter (C.COM.I.), Certified Medical Interpreter (C.M.I.), Certified Court Interpreter (C.CRT.I.), and Certified Conference Interpreter (C.C.I). Not all provinces have legislative recognition for these titles so check with your provincial association.
I am certified so how do I certify a translation?
Please check with your provincial association as rules may differ slightly from province to province. You may be able to access a webinar offered on this subject.
Once I become certified, how should I refer to my new title?
It depends on which province you live in because some provinces have recognized titles while others do not.
I failed the exam so what should I do now?
- Take translation/interpretation courses and/or other language courses in your areas of weakness to better your skills and knowledge
- Ask for peer evaluations
- Attend professional development webinars/seminars/workshops offered by your provincial association or by CTTIC.
- Seek out mentorship with an experienced translator/interpreter in your language combination
- Try again next year but meanwhile take a practice exam1 as many times as you like and practice, practice, practice.
If I become certified in one province and have to move to another province, do I need to write the exam again?
In general no as there is a reciprocity agreement between provincial associations. This means that the receiving association will accept your certification status. However, not all Canadian provinces are parties to this agreement. Please check with the translation and interpretation association in the province you are moving to in order to verify whether your certification status will be accepted.
If I am a certified member of a translation and interpretation association in another country (e.g. ATA), may I transfer my certification to CTTIC?
Unfortunately no. Canada has its own certification process.
It is worth keeping in mind that translation and interpretation are global businesses and, depending on the language combination, it is possible that only a percentage of a translator’s or interpreter’s revenue will come from local sources. e.g. direct clients. Many translators and interpreters work with international agencies as well.
Should I try the exam even if I have no background in translation or translation studies?
The CTTIC exam is geared towards experienced translators with many years of successful translation work behind them. We strongly suggest that all exam candidates be well prepared before starting out as a beginner translator. This frequently means higher education in translation studies. For instance, this could be a Bachelor’s degree in Translation, or a Bachelor’s in your target and source languages followed by a Master’s in Translation. Those who try the exam without sufficient preparation will likely fail. Translation not only requires skill and talent but knowledge of translation techniques specific to your source and target languages. The end result must sound as though it were written by a native speaker. This needs a great deal of practice. We also strongly suggest apprenticing to a senior translator just as a recent graduate with a law degree must have a few years of clerking or paralegal experiencing before being able to hang their shingle! Should you not know where to study for a degree in translation, CTTIC has prepared a list of over 300 universities and colleges in 51 countries that offer degrees in translation and/or interpretation. This list can be found here.
1. CTTIC offers online practice exams for a cost that are marked to exam standards and will give you insight into your readiness for certification. Ask your provincial association for access to these practice exams.