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In a landscape where every qualification (and any certificate) is accepted by agencies and service providers, and the general individual knows little about the type of training an interpreter must follow, it is very easy to be mislead by so many courses and webinars that pretend to do the same – turn would-be interpreters into qualified interpreters.

Here it is important to understand that not all certificates are equal.

The foremost step is recognising the distinction between attendance certificates and substantive, nationally recognised qualifications. A certificate for participating in CPD, a webinar or an internal course from an agency, though commendable, does not equate to the rigorous training in a national qualification. 

To be working as a professional interpreter with the general public, requires comprehensive training and preparation. A requirement that becomes even more critical when working with vulnerable individuals.

So, where does one start?

The curiosity to bridge languages and cultures is noble, yet embarking on this profession requires far more than linguistic fluency. It demands a deep understanding of the ethical, cultural, and technical nuances of interpreting. For those at the crossroads, the allure of numerous certificates can be misleading. 

Making an Informed Choice

Choosing a path is not merely about meeting prerequisites for agency work or validating your existing interpreting experience. It’s about laying a solid foundation for a career marked by professionalism, integrity, and excellence.

Some interpreters need the certificate to start working with an agency or because they have already done interpreting work and want the certificate that proves they can do it.

When choosing a professional or vocational qualification for interpreters, here are 3 key things to look out for:

  • The qualification is regulated by Ofqual

Information about courses should be clear and transparent at the moment of enrolment with a course provider, before payment, so that you can make an informed decision about what you are actually receiving. [check here the level and name of qualification of the course you wish to follow]

  • The qualification is assigned a reference number – Level 3 or Level 6

Examples: 603/7762/8 – iCQ Level 3 Certificate in Interpreting in the Community; or 501/1250/8 – CIOLQ Level 6 Diploma in Public Service Interpreting (DPSI).

These are just 2 examples. You should search for the qualification you aim to achieve.


  • The qualification is awarded by a national Awarding Body

This can easily be verified online and if you cannot find the information on their website, or on the internet, send an email to the course provider with your questions before parting with your money. [Examples of Awarding Bodies: CIoL, iCQ, OCN, Ascentis, etc]

In addition, you will find several other ways to get a qualification, by doing a Masters in Interpreting and Translation at a University [check your local college/university] or by sitting an exam to be a full member of the ITI – Institute of Translation and Interpreting.

If you find yourself at this stage of researching training to become a qualified interpreter, I trust this article will serve you. 

Begin your journey towards becoming a professional interpreter with confidence. Explore our courses designed to equip you with the expertise and qualifications recognised across the industry.

Link to Interpreting Courses

Link to Translation Courses

In our next article, we’ll be talking about why comprehensive training matters and how to make an informed choice on the training that sets the foundation for a career marked by professionalism and integrity. Stay tuned…