Certified vs. Qualified Interpreter

Faviola the CEO Hustler
The difference between a certified and qualified interpreter

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Certified vs Qualified Interpreter

Elite Services 4 You (IL Interpreters) understands that many businesses and corporations that require interpreting and translating services are not aware of specific qualification requirements or contracting laws.

Did you know that there are many interpreting agencies who don’t follow strict guidelines when it comes to providing professional and proficient services?
A report done by the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics for 2008-2009 found that 22 percent of interpreters and translators are self-employed.  
If that is true, are agencies requiring them to verify a business license, qualifications, and certifications?
I would like to explain a few things about this particular industry – in order to help potential clients make the right choice in choosing an interpreting services company.
Faviola the CEO Hustler

Certified and Qualified Interpreters

What is the difference between certified and a qualified Interpreter?

The difference between a certified and Qualified interpreters

Elite Services 4 You (IL Interpreters) has established a contract, with characterization for these terms that correlate directly with a definition given by the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics.

Certified interpreter is a person who has passed the California Court Interpreter Certification Examination and who has fulfilled the corresponding Judicial Council requirements and are referred to as certified interpreters.

“Qualified interpreter is a person who is not a certified interpreter and who speaks the language to be translated into English fluently and who speaks English fluently and that poses a minimum of 2 years of interpreting experience.

The state personnel board also provides a certification test for medical and administrative hearing interpreters in California.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics wrote: There is currently no universal form of certification required of interpreters and translators in the United States.
Although different states have implemented oral and written tests to verify capabilities, there are still many interpreters that base their experience and qualifications from translating for family members and having grown up in a bilingual household.

How to define Interpreter Rates?

Interpreter Rates vary by state, type of appointment, experience, qualifications, as well as so many other factors.

The Court system established different rates for in-house interpreters, just as freelancers have established rates for themselves.

Most of the rates should be based on their experience and the number of years that they have been in the industry, but unfortunately, that is NOT the case. Many interpreters have increased or will increase their rates based on fellow interpreters vs their skills, qualifications, or experience. 

Therefore when contracting an interpreter the rates should be based on certification, qualifications, and also whether or not you require a certified or qualified interpreter. 

Now keep in mind that in most cases a certified interpreter is not required.  Therefore you should NOT have to pay a certified rate if you don’t need a certified interpreter.

So it’s important to understand that rates are NOT only based on certification but also based on the interpreter’s experience, skills, qualifications, and locations as well as a variety of other factors that should be considered when establishing a rate with an agency or contractor.

Elite Services 4 You (IL Interpreters) would also like to point out that the term “certified” can be misused by the interpreters and many will claim they are certified to gain a higher rate of pay – when in reality ONLY have a Certificate.

When Elite Services 4 You searches for their information in databases to verify certification, we are unable to locate their name. 

There is a list available to the public with the names of persons who are deceased, retired, or de-certified –no longer certified to interpret in the court systems.

Unfortunately and often times interpreters will continue to claim they are certified, and maintain a high pay rate, and agencies are unaware that they are using an interpreter that is not capable of providing excellent service.


Independent Contractor Interpreters

As the industry continues to grow and with the diversity of our nation, we too have to grow and evolve with the industry.

That’s why Elite Services 4 You (IL Interpreters) has implemented a strict screening process for interpreters and translators that will push this industry to the level of professionalism it deserves.


A teacher within their first year of teaching does not have the same rate of pay as a tenured instructor; the same should be established for interpreters and translators, right?”

Unfortunately, since the inception of my business (2000), I continue to see that “freelance/independent contractor (I.C) interpreters” continue to fail when it comes to adhering to the business requirements.

For example, Independent Contractors/Freelancers don’t have the necessary licensing in place, nor do they have the insurance required, or for that matter terms or conditions.

If they are operating their own “freelance business” they are required to have certain items in place, but unfortunately, they don’t – and then they try to claim they are employees!

Therefore, keep in mind that NOT all counties, cities, or even states require you to have a business license, however as a business owner/freelancer, it is your responsibility to ensure you have these items in place.

Moreover, if those counties require a business license for independent contractors then it should be implemented and not overlooked by agencies, businesses, doctors, lawyers, etc…This is a requirement they should adhere to.


Because there are more and more “Independent Contract Interpreters” both Certified and Qualified”, claiming to be Employees of the agency or the contracting party, meaning that more and more Law Suit abuse is occurring within this industry.

Business Standards

That is why setting standards are very important to our agency, although management takes high measures in implementing these steps “employees” will not always adhere, causing problems for the agency. 

So as the agency owner, it is your responsibility to ensure that your in-house employees are implementing your strict processes.

We try our best to be an agency, that will NOT overlook requirements just to attain an interpreter for an assignment. We go the extra mile to ensure that our clients receive what they deserve, but more importantly what they are paying for.

I no longer operate as an agency

Although I no longer offer other languages or operate as an agency, I'm happy to assist you in verifying Interpreters' skills, qualifications, etc... Contact me for more information about verifying an interpreter's credentials, skills, and qualifications...

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