Certificate vs Certification: What’s the difference?

The two are often confused but this is an easy way to distinguish them:

Certificate : Program certificates are often confused with certification. Certificates for training can be given to interpreters who attend courses or orientations as short as one hour and as long as one week or more. A certificate is the credential obtained at the end of a training or a program. It is not recognized as certification by the profession of community interpreting. In some countries, to state that you are “certified” because you hold a program certificate could be considered misrepresentation of your credentials.

Certification: In the interpreting field, a certification is an exam that involves a rigorous evaluation of interpreter skills resulting in a meaningful credential. Certification may be awarded for general interpreting, or for a specialization, such as medical or court interpreting. Certification should be performed by professional organizations or government entities using a validated examination that adheres to national or international standards for professional certification. Hence, the certification exam can be provided either by an organization accredited to administer a certification test, or by a professional association (that should ideally also be accredited by a body specialized in certification).

It is unfortunate that some organizations (such as school systems, hospitals and language companies, among others) claim to “certify” interpreters, typically after a brief orientation. Such “certification” is meaningless. It also leads to widespread confusion. This dilution of credentials devalues the profession and supports a sadly wide perception that community interpreting is not a “real” profession.

By successfully completing The Community Interpreter™ training, shall I be a certified interpreter?

No, you will obtain a certificate of successful completion. During the course of this 40 hour training, you will NOT take any exams involving skills evaluation, which is what a certification exam does instead.


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