What is a certified interpreter?
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In this article, I will explain what an Interpreter Certification is using the State of Florida as an example. Please note your state certification requirements will surely differ.
In Florida, we have different levels of interpreter certification. On this website, you can find all the requirements for the different levels and a list of interpreters for each level as well. You have contact information and can find an interpreter In the registry by downloading the PDF files. You can go one by one until you find an interpreter that is available. I am not recommending you do that just yet, it may not be the wisest choice to hire an interpreter directly. I will explain briefly why, later in this article, and will dedicate an entire article to that as well. Let’s continue explaining how the Florida registry of interpreters works. In the first section, you have all the certified interpreters in downloadable PDF files. They represent court-certified interpreters, then you have language skilled interpreters. I will explain what a language skilled interpreter is in a second. But first, “Certified” interpreters are interpreters that have passed an oral and written exam. Provisionally approved interpreters are next on the website they have passed the written exam which is a very simple and basic exam. It is an exam that only measures basic English and some concepts. They also need to pass a two-day orientation. So, the provisionally approved interpreters are interpreters that have taken the exam but didn’t get enough points to be considered certified, the highest level. They were close and got a certain high score but their score was not high enough to be considered a certified interpreter. And then, at the end of the web page, we have the registered interpreters.
Registered interpreters are simply individuals that have signed up to eventually become certified interpreters but that have yet to pass the oral exam or interpreters that did not achieve a passing score to become provisionally approved interpreters or certified interpreters. They may be in the process of taking the exam. It is a good first step. On the website, you have lists of Spanish, Haitian, French, Russian, Portuguese, Mandarin, and Bosnian, and Serbo-Croatian. These are the only languages for which the state of Florida has certifications available. For any other language, you need to get a non-certified interpreter. In the provisionally approved category, the same thing applies. The provisionally approved interpreters used to be called “qualified” interpreters so if you ever hear me mention in another article the word qualified interpreter, I am referring to these “provisionally approved” interpreters. Notice that we do have some Turkish provisionally approved court interpreters. This is interesting, I am now finding out we have an exam for Turkish. So the rest of the time, meaning, for any other language, you have to go with a non-certified interpreter. That’s where the agencies come into the picture. A language agency will be able to put you in contact with a non-certified interpreter. We will be able to look into our database and find an interpreter for you. It’s always good to go through an agency, even when attempting to hire interpreters on the “certified” list. I’ll tell you why in a future video. But for now, suffice it to say that there is a service redundancy built into hiring an agency, that is well worth the extra expense. And we know that even amongst those in the certified lists there are different levels of interpreting ability and a large percentage of inactive or retired interpreters make the list hard to search.
Now you know the difference between a certified interpreter, a provisionally approved interpreter and a registered interpreter oh and I was forgetting about the language skilled interpreters.
A language skilled interpreter is an individual that has the highest qualification for a language for which there is no examination. So, specifically, in the state of Florida, we can see that there is no examination for Romanian or for German. Yet these individuals have passed the written exam and have obtained the level of or the designation of “language skilled”. Meaning they are in the list. They are approved. They can go to court, they can do depositions, they can do everything that all other interpreters can do even those with a higher certification level. Because this is the highest level offered by the state and the highest level they can reach for this particular language.
Well, there you have it. Before I conclude I wanted to let you know one more important thing you need to know about these different levels of certification.
In order for these individuals to maintain their certifications, there are continuing education requirements. You need to get these continuing education credits every two years and there’s a certain number of interpreting hours required. In other words, you have a certain number of hours to complete of actual legal interpreting every two years in order to maintain your certification. This applies to language skilled interpreters, provisionally approved interpreters, and certified interpreters as well. There are some requirements necessary prior to becoming certified and after you become certified or provisionally approved. To maintain your approval or your certification you must complete the minimum number of court proceeding hours and the continuing education requirements.
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