How Do I Become a Certified Interpreter?

How to Become a Certified Interpreter

How do you know if you’re ready to become a certified interpreter? The role of the interpreter today is vitally important. As language barriers arise, we need to find a way to communicate effectively. Interpreters provide that communication and understanding in every situation – from emergency medical to financial, and from hospitality to travel. The choice to become an interpreter can be a rewarding career for those who love helping and working with people and are excited about breaking down language barriers.


The demand for qualified professional interpreters is soaring! In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that, by 2024, interpreters and translators will see a 29 percent employment growth, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. The field is on track to add 17,500 new positions during that period.

If you have an affinity for languages and native fluency in multiple languages, then your next step may be becoming a nationally certified interpreter. If you’re thinking about how to become a certified interpreter, we’ve gathered some resources to help you get started.

What Does it Take to Become an Interpreter?

Education and Language Proficiency: The most important factor to become an interpreter is education and sharp language skills. In the United States, typically you’ll need at least a Bachelor’s Degree. Most Universities will have courses designed to progress learning and skill in the field of interpretation. Along with native-speaking experience in your own language, you will need to be proficient in the desired second (or third) language as well. If you don’t have a solid grasp of the language, you will need to take additional language courses.

Area of Specialization: With so many different career paths available to interpreters, choosing an area of specialization will determine your next course of action. There are several industries that depend on interpreters on a daily basis: Health care and emergency 9-1-1, judicial, educational, retail and consumer, and travel.  Each industry requires different criteria in order to excel.

 Certification: Some industries, like healthcare and judicial, require additional certifications to become an interpreter. It is important to obtain these certifications and keep them current. An interpreter that has been certified will be able to present certifications as confirmation that they are compliant with all current policies and procedures.


Want to Become a Certified Interpreter? Additional skills interpreters will study for certification

  • National ethics and standards of practice for interpreters
  • Basic skills: pre-session preparation, introductions positioning, register, tone, halting the session, note-taking, memory skills, closing the session
  • Types and modes of interpreting
  • Legal obligations of interpreters (Title VI, impartiality, reporting abuse, disclosing conflicts of interest, etc.)
  • Interpreter roles: interpreting and mediation (in and outside the session)
  • Setting boundaries: interpreter neutrality and ethical decision-making
  • Culture and cultural mediation: cultural competence; cultural practices; bias and discrimination; educating clients and colleagues about culture and interpreting
  • Interpreter certification, proficiency testing and professional development
  • Information on community systems (K-12 schools and U.S. education; human and social services; U.S. health care), and how medical interpreting has paved a professional path for all community and business interpreters
  • Expert guidance on how to adapt interpreter ethics and standards to a bilingual employee’s workplace: handling clients; addressing conflicts with supervisors; how workplace and interpreter ethics may collide; advocacy; promoting equal access to services; industry-specific terminology


4 Resources to Help You Get Started to Become a Certified Interpreter

  1. The American Translators Association offers a list of ATA approved interpretation and translation schools by country.
  2. The National Board of certified medical interpreters credential program.
  3. The Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters (CCHI) has offered an independent, national, comprehensive certification program to medical interpreters of all languages since 2009.
  4. NIC is a national certification designed for general interpreting offered through the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID).

Telelanguage has been a leading provider of language interpretation and translation services since 1991. We are committed to providing the best-qualified, certified interpreters for our clients. If your organization is in need of a more reliable language service provider, Telelanguage can help! Get the fastest connection to U.S.-based certified interpreters. Contact us for more information or request a free quote for your organization.


5,000+ interpreters ready to speak in over 300 languages!

Call Telelanguage today at 1-888-983-5352

Certified interpreters available telephonically, face-to-face, or via video remote!