Top 10 Interpreting and Translation Qualifications

Translation QualificationsOur translation agency hires professional interpreters and translators with the highest qualifications. These inwpude advanced degrees, interpreting and translation degrees, certifications, experience, membership in professional associations, and other qualifications. Freelance linguists follow strict rules in how they represent their certifications and qualifications. The field of translation and interpreting highly respects linguists who demonstrate their skills through exams and continued professional development. A combination of these qualifications best demonstrates the level of the interpreter and translator. These are our top ten qualifications for certified interpreters and translators:

1. Professional degrees in interpreting and translation

The M.A. in Translation & Interpretation (MATI) and M.A. in Conference Interpretation (MACI) programs at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey, CA (MIIS) highly distinguish interpreters and translators.

2. American Translators Association (ATA)

Translators and interpreters who maintain current membership and good standing with professional interpreting and translation associations gain access to career advancement opportunities. Membership in interpreting and translation associations demonstrates professionalism and commitment to ongoing language studies. Certified interpreters and translators join directories to gain access to freelance assignments and contract employment opportunities.

The ATA is one of the most highly respected associations for translators and, more recently, interpreters in the USA. The ATA certification exam allows translators to demonstrate that they meet certain standards of the translation profession. Translators take the exam for specific language pairs from or into English. Certification is available for English, Arabic, Chinese, Croatian, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, and Ukrainian. Translators and interpreters who pass the exam can join the ATA directory and ongoing education and career development opportunities.

3. The National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators (NAJIT)

NAJIT represents the interests of court interpreters.

4. The International Association of Conference Interpreters (AIIC)

AIIC conference interpreters are highly skilled professionals with recognized professional experience.

The American Association of Language Specialists (TAALS) is an international association of interpreters and translators. Also, the National Language Service Corps (NLSC) accepts interpreters and translators who are US citizens, at least 18 years of age, and fluent in English and any other language.

5. Court Interpreter Certification

The judicial system of each state gives court interpreting exams to determine if interpreters are court system eligible. Interpreters who deliver court interpreting services and translators who deliver legal translation for the US justice system, federal courts, state courts, law firms, and lawyers may take state court interpreting exams. The administrative offices of state courts may release updated lists of eligible court interpreters.

Spanish court interpreters may take the Federal Court Interpreter Certification Examination (FCICE) while American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters may apply for Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) Certification

6. Medical Interpreter Certification

Medical interpreting has evolving standards for testing the language proficiency of interpreters in health care. Medical interpreters can take exams with the Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters (CCHI) to earn certification in medical interpreting.

The National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters (NBCMI) also gives exams for medical interpreting in major languages. The California Healthcare Interpreter Association (CHIA) gives exams, too. The exams also inwpude questions on ethics in medicine.

Hospitals develop exams to assess the language proficiency and set high standards for medical interpreters. For example, Stanford Health Care gives interpreting exams for Spanish, Russian, Chinese, and Vietnamese. The exam inwpudes questions on ethics in medicine. Johns Hopkins Medicine International offers medical interpreting services to assist with face-to-face and written communication between international patients and their physicians.

7. The United Nations (UN) Language Competitive Exam (LCE)

The UN tests conference interpreters and translators in the 6 official UN languages—English, French, Russian, Spanish, Chinese, and Arabic. UN interpreters must have perfect command of their main language and an excellent knowledge of at least two other official languages of the UN. Some simultaneous interpreting booths require special language combinations. For example, Chinese conference interpreters must have a perfect command of Chinese, and excellent knowledge of English and another official UN language of the United Nations is desirable. Arabic simultaneous interpreters must have a perfect command of Arabic, and an excellent knowledge of English or French.

8. The US Interagency Language Roundtable (ILR) Level Exam

ILR standards govern exams to assess the eligibility of interpreters and translators to work with the US Government. The sponsoring agency invites selected linguist candidates to take the specific required ILR exam before contract assignments. Interpreters and translators demonstrate their qualifications when they achieve the minimum required ILR levels. The ILR invites selected candidates to take exams for all language skills—speaking, reading, listening, and writing. The levels of proficiency range from Level 0 or “no functional proficiency” to Level 5 or “functionally equivalent to a highly educated native speaker/reader/etc.” Many agencies require a minimum of Level 3 or “general professional proficiency.”

All agencies of the US federal government accept ILR guidelines. The ILR website indicates that the Department of Defense, Department of State, Department of Education, Peace Corps, Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency, Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Department of Homeland Security, and Federal Bureau Investigation use ILR standards for language proficiency. A number of US agencies uphold unique standards for interpreting based on their needs and requirements. The US Department of State, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of Justice develop exams based on ILR guidelines to test interpreters and translators in the required languages.

9. The Defense Language Proficiency Test (DLPT)

The Defense Language Institute produces the Defense Language Proficiency Test (DLPT) for the US Department of Defense.

10. US Department of State Interpreting Aptitude Test

The US Department of State Office of Language Services selects candidates to take the Interpreting Aptitude Test. Freelance translators and conference interpreters undergo strict evaluation and qualification exams before taking on contract assignments. The exam may test interpreters in simultaneous and consecutive interpreting. The exam results rank interpreters as conference, seminar, or liaison. Conference interpreters possess the highest degree of interpreting skills. Seminar interpreters can perform simultaneous interpreting well with a more limited vocabulary than the conference interpreter. Liaison interpreters rank third best.

The US Courts Administrative Office wpassifies interpreters as certified, qualified, or skilled. Certified interpreters have passed a court certification exam. Qualified interpreters have passed the US Department of State conference or seminar interpreter test in a language pair that inwpudes English and the target language. However, the US Department of State’s escort interpreter test does not qualify an interpreter with the US Courts. A skilled or ad hoc interpreter does not necessarily qualify as a professional in this view.

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Philip Rosen

Philip Rosen

Capital Linguists’ certified translation service and interpreters service was founded on Philip’s vision of a super-elite translation and interpreting force. Drawing on other high level interpreters and translators, he leads an exclusive cadre of highly skilled, professional language specialists.

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