Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

I'm already working as an interpreter. How do these courses benefit me?
You will earn a valued credential from a world-class university, which will help to distinguish you from the competition. Employers are increasingly looking to hire professionally trained candidates.

Many of our students are working interpreters. They tell us that the opportunity to develop knowledge and skills in a classroom environment is invaluable because it complements their on-the-job experience. Many topics covered in the certificate, such as ethical decision making and cognitive interpreting skills, are hard to master through experience alone.

In addition, our instructors are subject-matter specialists and experienced interpreters in the medical, legal, and educational fields.

How long will it take for me to complete the program?
You have four years to complete a certificate. The process of gaining interpreting skills is a gradual one; therefore, we ask students to first take three 'core' courses (Introduction to Translation, Introduction to Interpreting, and then Consecutive Interpreting). After this, students can complete the certificate by taking an elective course and either legal or health care specialization courses (or both). These specialization courses are not necessarily offered every year, but with a little planning it is possible to complete the certificate in one and a half years (depending on your specialization and the year you start). If you take breaks between courses, it may take you three years or more to complete the certificate.

What happens if I do not receive the required score on the oral proficiency interview in Consecutive Interpreting?
If you do not receive at least an "Advanced-Low" in the oral proficiency interview, you will have to wait at least six months to retake the assessment (and pay for the assessment again).

Do you offer certification?
No. We offer a Certificate in Interpreting with specialization in Legal or Health Care Interpreting. The certificate attests to successful completion of a course of study. 'Certification' is an assessment of proficiency done by a professional organization or government agency. At present, certification procedures exist for legal and health care interpreters of select languages.

The Minnesota State Courts offer a certification examination in certain languages. They also have set minimal requirements for having one's name added to a roster of eligible interpreters -- this is NOT certification. For information about interpreting in the Minnesota State Courts, please see the MN Court Interpreter Program.

Two organizations currently offer certification testing for health care interpreting: Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters and the National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters. At present, full certification is available to qualified Spanish-English interpreters and a lower-level certification is available to interpreters with other language pairs. Check frequently with the two organizations for further details about testing, certification in languages other than Spanish, scheduling, fees, etc.

Where can I learn more about employment opportunities as an interpreter?
Unfortunately, we do not have the staffing available to match our students to interpreting positions. However, we do:   

  • Circulate announcements about open positions to students   
  • Seek out internship/mentored interpreting experiences for students who take core courses in the Certificate program. These experiences help prepare them for work as a professional interpreter.   
  • Encourage informal interviews with instructors, program staff and classmates, which are effective ways to find out more about the field.

A recent survey of former students suggested that employers are eager to hire candidates who have taken some or all of the courses in the program rather than employing interpreters with no formal training.

If you are interested in interpreting in a health care setting, you should explore interpreting opportunities in the language services departments of local hospitals and clinics. You also can contact local interpreting agencies. In January 2009 a roster of spoken language interpreters in Minnesota was established. This is a good place to list your contact details, training, and experience, both for potential employers and networking opportunities. For more information, please see Minnesota Spoken Language Interpreter Roster.

The College of Continuing Education Career and Lifework Planning Services offers consultations, workshops, and career-related assessments to help you explore career options.

What are the advantages of applying for official admission to the certificate program and taking courses as an officially admitted student?
You may take courses required for the certificate before applying for official admission. However, it is advantageous to apply for official admission in the program as soon as possible because you receive the following benefits:   

  • Access to academic advising   
  • Opportunity to register earlier than students who are not admitted   
  • Assurance that all of your course work will count toward the certificate, as requirements sometimes change   
  • You will not be assessed the University of Minnesota Student Services fee if you are admitted to a certificate program and not admitted to a degree program.

Currently, we can only officially admit you into the certificate if there are 8-10 other students with your language pair who also wish to be admitted. We always have enough Spanish/English speakers to admit students with that language pair. This is because bilingual courses depend on student demand, which greatly fluctuates for speakers of other languages such as Hmong, Oromo, Russian, or Somali. If you can not be admitted, you can still certainly take the three certificate courses, which are taught in English, as well as the bilingual courses when there are 6-8 other students with your language pair who wish to register.

Can previous credits earned elsewhere be used towards the certificate requirements?
With approval, transfer course work completed at an accredited institution can make up 40 percent of the certificate requirements. Such arrangements are at the discretion of the program director.

Can I include the Certificate of Interpreting in a degree program?
Credits earned through this certificate may be transferable to a degree program. Check with the appropriate degree program adviser to determine if the credits will transfer. See Inter-College Program and Multidisciplinary Studies for individualized degree programs within the College of Continuing Education.