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Interpreting Certifications in the United States: A Comparison – Updated Nov. 18, 2016

Check out the updated version of the chart we posted last month, created by Helen Eby, of existing interpreter certifications.

You will note that two California interpreter certifications have been added: the Administrative Hearing and Medical. These are the oldest certification exams in the nation, given between the late ‘70’s and 2008, (just before the great economic downturn) and among the most rigorous ever. Passing rates were in the single to low double digits, the majority of those who sat successfully for these exams possessing a high level of education.  

In California, state certified Administrative Hearing Interpreters are qualified for interpreting during medical examinations conducted for the purpose of determining compensation or monetary award. Administrative Hearings are settings in which beneficiaries are seeking such things as EDD, DMV, Social Security and Workers’ Compensation benefits.

Lorena Ortiz Schneider, Blog Editor

 

By Helen Eby and Lorena Ortiz Schneider

[classroom chairs]

Competency-based assessments are the foundation of credentialing in many professions, one of which is interpreting. According to the National Commission for Certifying Agencies, an assessment instrument is any one of several standardized methods for determining if candidates possess the necessary knowledge and skills related to the purpose of the certification. Professional certification is therefore a voluntary process and is bestowed by an organization granting recognition to an individual who has met certain eligibility requirements and successfully completed a rigorous assessment based on a job task analysis. In addition, in California, there are two interpreter certifications: Administrative Hearing and Medical. These are the oldest certification exams in the nation, but are no longer on offer. These exams, which were given between the late ‘70’s and 2008, (just before the great economic downturn) were among the most rigorous ever. Passing rates were in the single to low double digits, the majority of those who sat successfully for these exams possessing a high level of education. California law deems state certified Court and Administrative Hearing Interpreters qualified as Medical Interpreters for interpreting during medical examinations conducted for the purpose of determining compensation or monetary award.

Interpreter certification is akin to licensure in many other professions such as psychology, occupational therapy, social work, professional counseling, architecture, or nursing. In the United States, there are three certifying bodies for medical interpreters: NBCMI, CCHI and DSHS/LTC (see chart below). In this chart we are also including the Oregon Court Interpreting certification for comparison purposes because interpreters move from one field to another in their scope of work on a regular basis. The California State Court Interpreting certification is not included even though court interpreters are also deemed qualified as medical interpreters for interpreting in settings as mentioned above. Interpreters will have to choose which certification to pursue based on their working languages, the availability of testing sites, the delivery modality (on-site v. remote interpreting) and the applicable federal and state laws and regulations. In the State of Oregon, the Oregon Health Authority is the government agency responsible for regulating medical interpreters. In the State of California, the medical and administrative hearing certification exams may be offered again in the near future. For now, pursuing a court interpreting certification or a medical interpreting certification from NBCMI or CCHI will allow interpreters to work in various California settings.

Terminology used in the chart below
LOTE Languages other than English
>  into
from
approved Approved activities/training means trainings or activities that meet the requirements of the certification bodies for continuing education purposes. Please refer to the website of each certification body for full details, which are beyond the scope of this document.

 

Please note that the following chart is a summary, since a complete listing of all details would be beyond the scope of this article. For further details, please go to the website of each certifying body, listed below.

 

Interpreting Certifications in the United States: A Comparison - Updated Nov. 18, 2016

Open and download the PDF file here

 

Sources

Interpreter certification and skills maintenance as key elements of quality assurance, Natalya Mytareva, Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters, June 17, 2015: http://www.cchicertification.org/images/webinars/2015-06-17-cchi_certification-quality_assurance.pdf

Candidate’s Examination Handbook, Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters, July 2014: http://www.cchicertification.org/images/pdfs/candidatehandbook.pdf

Certification page, National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters Certification page: http://www.certifiedmedicalinterpreters.org/getcertified

Certified Medical Interpreter Candidate Handbook, The National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters, 2014: http://www.certifiedmedicalinterpreters.org//sites/default/files/national-board-candidate-handbook.pdf

Oregon Judicial Department Interpreter Certification Process: http://courts.oregon.gov/OJD/docs/OSCA/cpsd/InterpreterServices/certificationflowchart.pdf

State Court Administrator Policies for the Oregon Judicial Department’s Oregon Certified Court Interpreter Program http://courts.oregon.gov/OJD/docs/osca/cpsd/interpreterservices/interpretercertificationpolicy.pdf

Court interpreter Oral Examination Overview (by National Center for State Courts / Language Access Services Section) http://bit.ly/ncsc-2gxNWXs

Court interpreter Written Examination Overview (by National Center for State Courts / Language Access Services Section) http://bit.ly/ncsc-w-2fBjbgh

Oregon Court Interpreting Fees: http://courts.oregon.gov/OJD/OSCA/cpsd/InterpreterServices/pages/fees.aspx

NCSC oral examinations ready for administration: http://bit.ly/ready-2fNQD6h

California Administrative and Medical Hearing Interpreter Listing: http://jobs.spb.ca.gov/InterpreterListing/

Study Materials, Washington State Department of Social and Health Services Study materials: https://www.dshs.wa.gov/fsa/language-testing-and-certification-program/study-materials

Law regulating occupations and professions in Oregon: http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/volume/15

Law that governs healthcare interpreting in Oregon: http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/413.550

NCCA accreditation is renewable every 5 years. Registration listed on this site: http://www.credentialingexcellence.org/p/cm/ld/fid=121 Link verified Sept 26, 2016.

Standards for Registry Enrollment, Qualification, and Certification of Health Care Interpreters: http://arcweb.sos.state.or.us/pages/rules/oars_300/oar_333/333_002.html

Health Care Interpreter Program, Office of Equity and Inclusion: http://www.oregon.gov/oha/oei/Pages/HCI-Program.aspx

*Oregon requires 60 hours of healthcare interpreter training and has a list of preapproved training programs.

Affordable Care Act Non-discrimination in Healthcare Programs and Activities http://ostiweb.org/about/federal-regulations-for-translation-and-interpreting-in-medical-settings/

Enhanced CLAS Standards Blueprint, April 2013, http://blog.gauchatranslations.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/EnhancedCLASStandardsBlueprint.pdf. The Joint Commission follows the CLAS Standards closely, though they are not a regulation.

Sources for overall passing rate

National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters Examination Summary Statistics: 2009, 2010, and 2011

CCHI 2014 Annual Report: Setting the Standard for Quality in Healthcare Interpreting

Fu, Hungling. State of Washington DSHS Medical Interpreter Certification, presented at UMTIA. June 2007

Oregon pass rate data provided by Oregon courts on September 29, 2016, by Michaelle Gearheart, Certification and Training Coordinator, Court Language Access Services (CLAS):

Written Exam 2006-2016
Number of Examinees: 674
Pass Rate: 48.5%

Oral Exam 2006 – 2016
Number of Examinees: 521
Pass Rate: 18.4%

Ethics Exam 2006 – 2016
Pass Rate 100%

California pass rate data provided by CalHR (California Department of Human Resources) on November 17, 2016 by John Hering, Interpreter Program Director Office of Civil Rights:

Fiscal Year 2006 – 2007
Written Medical Exam: 35% passage
Oral Medical Exam: 18% passage

Written Administrative Hearing Exam: 38% passage
Oral Administrative Hearing Exam: 7% passage


 

[Helen Eby]

Helen Eby was the founding President of the Oregon Society of Translators and Interpreters, is the trainer of one of the programs approved by the Oregon Health Authority to meet the training prerequisites for Qualification and Certification, and a member of the Oregon Council on Health Care Interpreters—which advises the Oregon Health Authority on administrative rules and policy standards for the Health Care Interpreter Program. Helen Eby is also a medical and court interpreter certified by CCHI, NBCMI, the Oregon State Courts, and the Oregon Health Authority. Additionally, she is an ATA certified translator.

 

[Lorena Ortiz Schneider]

Lorena Ortiz Schneider is an American Translators Association (ATA) Certified Translator and California State Certified Administrative Hearing Interpreter, has worked for the US Department of State as Escort and Seminar Interpreter, as Conference Interpreter for private industry and community based programs, for Workers’ Compensation, Social Security Administration, EDD and the Courts.  She is a medical interpreter trainer delivering The Community Interpreter International© program to local clinics and aspiring interpreters. Lorena is on CWCIA’s IPO Committee dedicated to improving working conditions and pay for medical interpreters in the state of California.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image by Taken via pixabay.com

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ata-divisions.org/ID/interpreting-certification-in-the-united-states-a-comparison-updated/

2 comments

  1. Holly Marie Mikkelson

    Nice work, ladies! I just have one quibble about what you say in connection with the administrative hearing and medical exams being the oldest in the U.S. The medical exam was first given in 1993 or 1994. The admin hearing certification does date back to 1979, but the court interpreting exam was given at the same time, and has been given continuously ever since. The federal certification exam was first given in 1980 (I think the written may actually have been given in 1979).

  2. LORENA

    Dear Holly,

    Thank you for the kudos! And more importantly, for the correction. We should have qualified the assertion that these exams were the oldest in the nation with a “of their kind.”
    Thank you.

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