Interpreting Credentials: Career Pathway Opportunity for Multilingual Learners

Interpreting Credentials: Career Pathway Opportunity for Multilingual Learners

The Community Interpreter 40-hour training and certificate is designed to impart essential knowledge of ethical principles and professional practices, with a focus on healthcare, educational, and social service settings. It also introduces participants to the nuances between legal and community contexts. Typically, this credential serves as an initial step toward employment or national certification.

Many adult learners possess fluency in multiple languages and are eager to enhance their interpreting skills. Multilingual community members are frequently requested to act as interpreters; professionalizing this skill set can lead to income opportunities. One type of flexible employment is working as an independent contractor for an interpreting agency. This is particularly appealing to those with caregiving responsibilities because it offers flexibility in scheduling and types of encounters.

Hosting this credential program within an Adult Basic Education (ABE) setting offers distinct advantages, including making the training financially accessible; the cost of the training alone can exceed $600, posing a financial barrier for many. Additionally, “train-the-trainer” options exist within certain interpreter training credentials, enabling qualified educators to become licensed trainers.

These three educational services offered at Adult Education programs complement the 40 hour short-term interpreting credential.

1) Language proficiency development

A critical aspect of being an interpreter is continuously enhancing all working languages to facilitate effective communication. Interpreter training participants can greatly benefit from dedicating additional time beyond the 40-hour training to learn how to set language improvement goals, select strategies to achieve them, and reflect on progress. Units on specialized vocabulary, such as medical or legal terminology, could also be offered.

Another valuable tool in this regard is the oral proficiency interview, which yields an proficiency rating that can also be listed on a resume. Some programs may utilize the interview rating as a criterion for admission into a 40-hour program, ensuring that interpreters possess the necessary language proficiency to be equipped for interpreting assignments.

2) Skills Practice

Language proficiency is just the start. Effective interpreters need to use many other skills, such as memory, conversation management, and cultural awareness. While the 40-hour training introduces these concepts, aspiring interpreters need opportunities for practice and feedback to develop these skills. Programs that offer guided practice opportunities, paid work experience, or mentorship can assist learners in developing the confidence in their abilities and readiness to pursue career opportunities.

3) Career Navigation

ABE sites can play a role in supporting learners to effectively leverage their 40-hour credential for employment opportunities that are a best fit for their needs. While independent contractor work offers certain benefits, learners must be aware of potential drawbacks such as irregular income and hidden costs. For instance, time spent driving between appointments is typically unpaid, and benefits are often not provided despite the seemingly higher hourly rate compared to other entry-level positions.

In addition to the 40-hour training, learners can continue on this career pathway by exploring national certification options in medical and legal interpreting. Century College hosts a Translation & Interpreting Program with a diploma or certificate for individuals seeking post secondary options.

Learn more!

Learn more about the Community Interpreter credential and other credentials at the upcoming Adult Career Pathways Institute on April 19.

Lisa Gibson, Program Manager Karen Organization of Minnesota