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The difference between “qualified,” “certified” and having a certificate… and more FAQs

Some interpreters say they are “certified.” Is there a difference between qualified and certified interpreters?
A certified interpreter is an interpreter who is certified as competent by a professional organization or government entity through rigorous testing based on appropriate and consistent criteria. Interpreters who have had limited training or have taken a screening test administered by an employing health, interpreter or referral agency are not considered certified. Some programs offer a certificate of completion, but this does not equal certification.

A qualified interpreter is an individual who has been assessed for professional skills, demonstrates a high level of proficiency in at least two languages and has the appropriate training and experience to interpret with skill and accuracy while adhering to the National Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice published by the National Council on Interpreting in Health Care.
— Read on www.ncihc.org/faq-for-translators-and-interpreters

FAQ: Medical Interpreter Training/CMIT

1. What does KITA provide for medical interpreter training?

KITA provides a 64-hour class called Core Medical Interpreter Training (CMIT). For more info, click here.

2. How is this class set up?

You can expect to spend 4 days in class (on the weekends) and to spend 32 hours on an online component.  You will have access to the online component for approximately 2-3 weeks. You must commit to this schedule in order to earn the certificate. Should unforeseen circumstances occur you can complete the requirements during our next class.

3. Where is this training offered?

This training is regularly offered in Lexington, KY.  Trainers are also located in Louisville, KY and Cincinnati, OH.

4. When is this training offered?

KITA offers this class 2-3 times in Lexington, KY. Please check our website to learn of future training.

The next Lexington class will be the first 4 Sundays of November.

5. What is the cost of this program?

CMIT requires a third-party language assessment in English and in one target language in order to be accepted into the program.  This test will cost $135 for an online or $145 for a proctored exam. The online version is currently available in 17 languages. It is only necessary to take and pass one language assessment test in order to be admitted to the CMIT. The cost of the class is $450 and includes the textbook, workbook and a certificate upon completion.

6. What is the passing score of the language assessment?

The assessment you will take is called Bilingual Fluency Assessment. You will receive a grade in English and a grade in the target language.  You must receive a minimum of 80% in both languages for a passing score. You will be tested in medical vocabulary in both languages. This is done to assess your baseline medical vocabulary knowledge.

7. How will the language assessment be set up?

KITA will send you a link to set up the BFA. You will create an account, pay for the test and schedule yourself to take it. 

8. What happens after I pass the language assessment?

You will receive the results via email. Please send KITA your results so that we can formally admit you to the class. Once it has been determined that you are a qualified candidate for the CMIT, we will send you a payment link for the class.

9. Can I take the language assessment in more than one target language?

Yes. If you are willing and able to pay for additional assessments.

10. How can I pay for the CMIT?

Preference is via credit or debit card, but contact us if you need to make other arrangements. We do not offer payment plans at this time. Full payment must be made prior to attending the class.

11. Does KITA offer any financial assistance for this training?

KITA wishes to support the aspiring interpreter whenever possible.  We are sometimes able to offer scholarships, mostly in the amount of $200. Please contact us for more information.

12. Will I be a certified interpreter after taking this course?

No.  Through the CMIT (and all other such courses 40 hours or more) you will earn a CERTIFICATE OF ATTENDANCE. This, along with the language assessment, will make you a minimally qualified medical interpreter in the language(s) in which you were assessed.  During this training you will learn the process of becoming a nationally certified medical interpreter.

13. Will I be able to interpret in other venues after receiving this training?

This training will prepare you to interpret in medical settings. You will also be able to use this training in social services and educational settings.  You will NOT be qualified to interpreter in legal/court settings. If you are interested in becoming a court interpreter for the state of Kentucky, click here.

14. Can I be put on a waiting list for future CMITs?

Yes. Send us an email with your name, email and phone number and we will contact you.

15 . Why get medical interpreter training?

For the safety of patients and to comply with federal law requiring that medical interpreters be qualified, it is for the benefit of all that, if you provide interpreter services, that you are a trained and qualified professional. Also, in many cases, you can get paid more for your services.

16. What kind of work can I expect to do as a qualified interpreter?

Full time interpreter jobs with benefits are still rare, but should one become available you will have the minimum training required to apply for the position. In the meantime, you can most likely work for various agencies as well as for the public schools as a contractor. In order to be successful you will need reliable transportation and good availability. You might also be able to find contract work in the evenings and weekends.

How to Become a Professional Interpreter or Translator

If you are bilingual and wish to become a professional interpreter or translator, there are several steps you must take. The following includes information from the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics. (Click here for the full report.)

Education

A bachelor’s degree is typically needed to become an interpreter or translator along with proficiency in at least two languages, one of which is usually English.

High school students interested in becoming an interpreter or translator should take a broad range of courses that focus on foreign languages and English writing and comprehension.

Beyond high school, people interested in becoming interpreters or translators have numerous educational options. Those in college typically choose a specific language as their major, such as Spanish or French. Although many jobs require a bachelor’s degree, majoring in a language is not always necessary.

Through community organizations, students interested in sign language interpreting may take introductory classes in American Sign Language (ASL) and seek out volunteer opportunities to work with people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Training

Spoken-language interpreters and translators working in the community as court or medical interpreters or translators need to complete job-specific training programs or certificates. Medical interpreters, for example, typically must complete an accredited 40-hour medical interpreter training program (such as the Core Medical Interpreter Training, or CMIT).

Continuing education is a requirement for most state court and medical interpreting certification programs. It is offered by professional interpreter and translator associations such as the International Medical Interpreters AssociationAmerican Translators Association and the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters on a regular basis.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

There is currently no universal certification required of interpreters and translators beyond passing the required court interpreting exams offered by most states. However, workers can take a variety of tests that show proficiency. For example, the American Translators Association provides certification for translators in many language combinations. The federal courts offer court interpreter certification for Spanish language interpreters.

For more information on how to become a certified medical interpreter, state certified court interpreter or a licensed sign language interpreter in the state of Kentucky, please go to our Resources page.