In order to pursue work as an interpreter, it is essential to obtain a relevant interpreting qualification. Without proper certification, it is not appropriate to claim that your skills are at a professional level. This could lead to providing subpar service and potentially putting individuals at risk.
There are numerous qualifications and courses available in the market for aspiring interpreters. When considering a qualification, the first aspect to look into is accreditation. This ensures that the course is regulated by the UK government through a department called Ofqual, which serves as the Government Regulator of Qualifications. All accredited qualifications are listed in the Ofqual Register of Regulated Qualifications, which can be accessed online. By searching for the qualification title, you can determine if it is accredited and find it in the list.
There are several accredited qualifications available today. In this section, we will discuss the five most popular qualifications recognized by the industry, language service providers, and interpreting clients.
These qualifications represent the lowest levels of certification. Level 1 is a brief qualification that allows for voluntary or charity work and neither the Level 1 Award in Interpreting or the Level 2 Certificate in Community Interpreting provides sufficient content for paid interpreting assignments because they typically do not assess interpreting skills comprehensively.
While some interpreters with Levels 1 or 2 may find limited paid work opportunities, the scope is restricted and becoming more limited, which is extremely encouraging due to the level of risk these qualifications present to service users.
The Level 3 Certificate in Community Interpreting is the true entry-level qualification for paid interpreting, and many professional interpreters begin their careers with this certification. Suitable for paid work, particularly in public service sectors such as health, mental health, social services, welfare benefits, immigration, education, housing, local government, and some low-level legal work.
Suitable for beginners or those with some experience. The Level 3 Certificate includes comprehensive content that covers various aspects of interpreting, from the role of an interpreter to assignment preparation.
While Level 4 exists, it is not recommended due to the increased study time and cost, and the fact that it doesn’t qualify you for any additional opportunities than accessible with a Level 3 Certificate.
Work opportunities and content are similar to Level 3, with a potential addition of a legal specialisation.
The highest-level qualification for interpreters is the Level 6 Diploma in Public Service Interpreting, also known as DPSI.
This qualification is extremely challenging and equivalent to a degree. It is recommended for individuals who already possess at least a Level 3 Certificate in Community Interpreting or have paid interpreting experience.
Work opportunities include all areas covered by Level 3,along with legal settings such as immigration, courts, police, and prisons.
The content includes Level 3 topics, as well as a focus on the legal specialisation and additional skills like simultaneous interpreting, sight translation into English, and written translation to and from English.
As demonstrated, there are varying levels of qualifications for interpreters depending on their career stage and existing skills. It is important to choose the appropriate qualification based on your proficiency, experience, and desired field of interpreting work. Obtaining a recognized interpreting qualification enhances your credibility, professionalism, and opportunities for paid work in the industry.
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