How Can I Earn a Spanish Interpreter Certification?

Earning a Spanish interpreter certification shows you've achieved certain standards for communicating across languages. Read on to learn about some of the certifications available. Schools offering Communications degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Spanish Interpreter Certification Options

As an interpreter, your job would be to facilitate verbal communication through the translation of the spoken word from one language to another in medical facilities, school systems, conference settings and the courts. No universal certification is required, but a number of voluntary options are available for Spanish interpreters who want to show a certain level of competency. Besides general certification, setting-specific certification is also available for court and medical Spanish interpreters. This is because federal law mandates that courts provide interpretation services if one party can't or won't communicate in English. Medical facilities use interpreters to improve patient care.

Spanish Interpreter Certification

You can earn certification in either translation from Spanish into English or from English into Spanish from the American Translators Association (ATA); Spanish is one of 17 foreign languages available. You must be a member of ATA and be able to show proof of an education and experience in the field in order to take the exam. You must also acknowledge an understanding of ATA's code and ethics. With passage of the exam, you become an ATA-Certified Translator (CT).

Court Interpreter

As a court interpreter proficient in Spanish, you must have knowledge of the American legal system. The National Center for State Courts (NCSC) offers the Federal Court Interpreter Certification Examination (FCICE) that evaluates both written and oral interpretation skills.

Most states also have certification programs; while some states, such as Virginia, allow certification to be voluntary, others, like California, require Spanish interpreters to be certified. Certification typically requires you to pass written and oral examinations as mandated and proctored by the state. Passing the exam attests to a minimum level of Spanish proficiency, knowledge of court terminology and awareness of ethical and professional conduct standards.

Medical Interpreter

As a medical interpreter, you must have a solid understanding of the medical field, as well as Spanish fluency. State certification is offered in states such as Washington, which offers the Language Testing and Certification (LTC) program.

National certification is available through the National Board of Medical Interpreters. If you have at least one year of experience as a medical interpreter, you may take the certification exam. If you do not have at least a year of work experience, but are at least 18 years of age and hold a high school diploma or GED, you can qualify for the exam by completing a 40-hour medical interpreter educational program, chosen from a list provided by the International Medical Interpreters Association (www.imiaweb.org).

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