How To Get An Interpreter Certification

In a place as multicultural and diverse as Canada, it’s likely that you will be exposed to people of all different backgrounds and languages. While English and French may be the official languages of Canada, they are by no means the only ones. In fact, the most recent Canadian census collected statistics on 215 languages used within the country. Therefore, having the proper resources and measures in place to ensure everyone is afforded the same degree of respect and accessibility is essential.

For those who have a passion for languages, the world of certified interpreters may be calling your name. Not only will you have the opportunity to put your skills to the test and make money while doing it, but you’ll also have the ability to help those around you feel more connected and understood. Translation and interpreting companies like Languages in Motion have made it their mission to improve the quality of people’s lives by providing superior interpretation services. Therefore, if you are a certified interpreter, you will be exposed to many career opportunities.

But how exactly does one become a certified interpreter? Let’s explore the steps it takes to get your interpreter certification.


What is an interpreter?

First, let’s understand what an interpreter is. Simply put, an interpreter is someone who converts spoken words from one language to another. Their role is to bridge the communication gap between two or more parties who are unable to understand each other, as they do not speak the same language.

It’s important to note that interpreters are not the same as translators. Interpreters are present for conversations and discussions, whereas translators are responsible for tackling written text. While each role does involve converting one language into another, the mediums differ.

How do you get your interpreter certification?

In Alberta, the Association of Translators and Interpreters of Alberta (ATIA) set the standards and guidelines for what it takes to become an interpreter. When you apply to the ATIA, you will first be applying to become an Associate Interpreter. The requirements to be considered as a member are as follows:

  • Pass the Code of Ethics exam with a minimum grade of 70%
  • Pass the Reading Comprehension for Interpreter’s exam with a minimum grade of 70%
  • Pass the CILISAT evaluation with a minimum grade of 70%
  • Meet the requirements for one of the following options
    • Have a university degree in interpreting/translation
    • Have a diploma in translation and interpretation
    • Pass the Immigration Refugee Board Exam (IRB)
    • Be certified in the Calgary Immigrant Women Association’s Interpretation and Translation Program (CIWA)
    • Be certified in the Cultural Interpretation Services for Our Communities course (CISOC)
    • Completed the MCIS Interpreter Program


With each sub-requirement, 20 hours of practical experience are needed for quite common languages, 15 hours for common languages, and 12 hours for languages of lesser diffusion.

While there is no set order in which these requirements need to be finished, it’s important to note that the results of both exams are only valid for two years.

Once you are accepted as a member of the ATIA, you will need to pay membership dues. It’s important to stay up-to-date on these payments, as you will need to be in good standing in order to become a certified interpreter.

The final step is to become a Certified Interpreter. In order to do as such, you will need to be an Associate Interpreter in good standing, provide proof of hours spent interpreting, sign ATIA’s Code of Ethics Agreement, and pay the examination fees and membership dues. Alternatively, if you are applying from another province, you simply need to already be your province’s equivalent of an Associate Interpreter; you do not need to start from scratch.

There are several different types of interpreters, such as community, court, and medical interpreters. Each area of specialty may come with its own set of requirements, as it will be essential that you are familiar with the particular words and jargon that come with a given field.


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