Many interpreters claim to be certified. Some are, some are not. So, how do you know?
STATE COURT CERTIFICATION
Passing an interpretation class and receiving a certificate does not mean one is certified. Getting a degree in interpreting does not mean one is certified. Different agencies certify interpreters. Many are respected, professional agencies with a rigorous process but they are not State agencies. The State Certification for court interpreting comes from the National Center of State Courts, Consortium for State Court Interpreter Certification. A list of Georgia's State licensed interpreters can be found on the Georgia Courts Commission on Interpreters website (http://coi.georgiacourts.gov/)
There you will see registries for three types of state licensed interpreters: Certified Court Interpreters, Conditionally Approved Interpreters, and Registered Interpreters (only for languages in which certification testing does not yet exist).
Certified Court Interpreters must pass an oral interpreting exam with a score of at least 70%.
To be Conditionally Approved one must pass the oral exam with a general score of no lower than 60% and score no lower than 50% on any one section. Some may call this license "provisionally certified". That title does not exist in Georgia and can be misleading.
Registered Interpreters (a title that no longer exists for Spanish interpreters) must score a Superior rating on an Oral Proficiency Interview.
The above mentioned interpreters are provided with a license which lists their certification number. So when in doubt, either ask to see their license or look up the registries with your State's Commission on Interpreters.
FEDERALLY CERTIFIED COURT INTERPRETERS
There are three categories of federal court interpreters: Certified, Professionally Qualified (does not exist for
Spanish), and Language Skilled.
Certified Interpreters must pass the Federal Court Interpreter Certification exam, both the written and oral phases.
Professionally Qualified Interpreter is a title for those who speak a language not covered by the certification exam. That is why a Spanish interpreter cannot be a Professionally Qualified Interpreter for federal court. Candidates for this license must pass either the the U.S. Department of State conference or seminar interpreter test or the interpreter test of the United Nations.
Federally licensed court interpreters can be found on the National Court Interpreter Database.
An interpreter who does not have the above qualifications may be considered as a Language Skilled/Ad Hoc Interpreter if they can demonstrate their ability to interpret in court proceedings (e.j. having a State Certification). Preference is always given to licensed interpreters, especially for trials.
MEDICAL/HEALTHCARE INTERPRETER CERTIFICATION
In the case of medical interpreters there are two recognized agencies that certify, the National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters and the Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters. In this case there are no government agencies doing certification. Furthermore, certification is not yet universally required.
As with court interpreting, merely passing a class and receiving a certificate of completion is not the same as being certified.