New to the profession?

I am bilingual, how do I know if I have the necessary skills to become an interpreter?

Interpreters need to have a high familiarity with specialized terminology. If you are a legal interpreter, this can range from things like street slang to the boilerplate language of the court. If you are a healthcare interpreter, you might encounter culturally specific terms as well as the complex terms for medical procedures and conditions. If you are a conference interpreter, the topics will often change from one event to the next. If you have not taken advanced level courses in either of your language pair, it is recommendable that you test your proficiency using an oral proficiency assessment that is rated on a standard scale. The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) is a great resource for proficiency testing in English and many other languages.

What is the difference between translation and interpretation?

Interpretation is the verbal conveyance of a message from one person to another person who does not speak the same language. Essentially, interpreters act as a conduit for verbal communication.

Translation is when written information, such as a book, is converted into another language.

While these may seem interchangeable, both translation and interpretation are complex tasks that require specialized training. NCI offers workshops in both translation and interpretation.

I want to work as an interpreter. How do I get started?

Most states require courtroom interpreters to be certified. The certification process generally includes a written examination as well as an oral performance exam. Certification for healthcare interpreters is required by some organizations, but there is not yet a national requirement. Even if certification is not expressly required, obtaining a professional credential can increase your chances of getting the job you want. For more information about state and federal court interpreter certification, please visit: The National Center for State Courts. For more information about federal court interpreter certification, please visit: The United States Courts.

Information about medical/healthcare interpreter certification is available at: and

For more resources for aspiring court interpreters, please click here.

For more resources for aspiring medical interpreters, please click here.

Is a college degree required?

There is no requirement to have a college degree to sit for most certification exams. Many professional interpreters do not possess a degree, or have a degree in an unrelated field. However, academic programs (associate’s, bachelor’s and graduate programs) in translation and interpretation are becoming more widely available across the country.