Frequently Asked Questions
How do I become a translator or interpreter?
- Ensuring both languages you are wanting to translate/interpret from and into are at or near-native level proficiency. This means that you will have mastered both languages such that you are able to translate/interpret most encounters, and not just basic ones. This means that you will have, for instance, the cultural knowledge and background to understand and find equivalents to everything from slang, jailhouse terms, to cultural healing practices in the healthcare setting to mastery of more formal, flowery language found in literature. Unless you’ve formally studied both languages in countries in which such languages are spoken, you may likely have to take advanced level language courses prior to taking step 2.
Take some introductory courses in translation and/or interpretation to both gauge your mastery of your working languages and understand the roles and responsibilities of professional translators and interpreters.
Decide on a path of practice, whether it’s translation, project management, localization, transcription/subtitling, community interpreting, medical interpreting, legal interpreting, diplomatic interpreting, and/or conference interpreting. Once the path is decided on, then study, study, study. Though there are some professionals who are generalists, most will tell you that specializing iskey in this industry.
Get involved in local or national associations, where you can meet mentors and colleagues and perhaps obtain first-hand accounts of what it’s like to be a professional interpreter or translator.
CLICK HERE TO BECOME AN EPITA MEMBER
How do I get certified?
a. Depending on what path of translation and/or interpretation you choose, in the
U.S. (you’ll have even more options if you search abroad), you have the following
organizations to look to for further information on the matter:
i. TRANSLATION – American Translator’s Association (ATA)
1. For certification information, see:
ii. COMMUNITY INTERPRETING – there are certificates, NOT certifications
or licenses, issued by private companies, but you would have to gauge
how well they will be recognized by your future employers/clients. Here is
a list of some offered by universities:
iii. MEDICAL INTERPRETING – There are two main certifying
bodies that offer the credential of certified healthcare or medical
interpreter. Currently, not all hospitals across the U.S. require this
credential, but it is strongly recommended. They are:
1. Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters (CCHI); the
credentail earned is called Certified Healthcare Interpreter (CHI) -
2. National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters (NBCMI);
the credentail earned is called Certified Medical Interpreter (CMI) -
iv. LEGAL INTERPRETING – Every state has their own test, and
there is also a Federal test. If the Federal test is passed, there may be
reciprocity in the state in which you choose to practice, however, you
must check with that state for their requirements.
1. For Texas, Texas Office of Court Administration Judicial Branch
Certification Commission (JBCC) -https://jbcctexas.txcourts.gov/DefaultTexas.aspx?BusinessUnit=LCI
a. Also in Texas, the credential to be earned is called Texas
Licensed Court Interpreter, but depending on your score
on the exam, you would earn one of two designations: the
TLCI-Basic or the TLCI-Master. The difference is described
credentail earned is called New Mexico Certified Court Interpreter
(NMCCI) - https://www.nmcenterforlanguageaccess.org/cms/en/training/court-interpreter-certification
3. The Federal test is administered by the Administrative Office of
the U.S. Courts on behalf of the Federal Judiciary. The test is
called the Federal Court Interpreter Certification Examination
(FCICE) and the credential earned is that of a United States Court
Certified Interpreter (USCCI) - http://www.uscourts.gov/services-forms/federal-court-interpreters/federal-court-interpreter-certification-examination
v. DIPLOMATIC INTERPRETING – The Interpreting Division of the Office of
Language Services with the U.S. Department of State tests their in-house
personnel and contractors. - https://www.state.gov/m/a/ols/c56573.htm
vi. CONFERENCE INTERPRETING – The Interpreting Division of the
Office of Language Services with the U.S. Department of State also tests
their in-house personnel and contractors for this level of interpreting. -
the Deaf (RID) - https://www.rid.org/advocacy-overview/state-information-and-advocacy/texas-state-information/
What can I do to prepare or practice?
a. Enroll in translation and/or interpreting courses in person or online. Local resources:
This FAQ list is being provided as a professional courtesy to interested parties for general information purposes only, without personal endorsement or affiliation. It is incumbent upon anyone taking action based on the information provided to use due caution.