There are two recognized organizations in the United States that provide a certification for healthcare interpreters.
- CCHI certification is offered by the Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters http://cchicertification.org/; find CCHI interpreters here: https://cchi.learningbuilder.com/Public/MemberSearch/Search
- CMI certification is offered by the National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters https://www.certifiedmedicalinterpreters.org/; find CMI interpreters here: https://www.certifiedmedicalinterpreters.org/search-the-cmi-registry
Although I personally am a CHI™ certified healthcare interpreter, I think that both organizations are great! CCHI has the distinction of earning NCCA accreditation (http://cchicertification.org/ncca-accreditation/). In my humble opinion, CCHI has a slightly more balanced approach in evaluating terminology along with ethics. CMI certification has a deeper focus on terminology.
CMI has a larger variety of languages certified than CCHI. For some languages, if you wish to locate a certified interpreter, you need to search in the CMI database.
Why choose a certified interpreter?
When I began the process, I was required to take some interpreting courses and pass a written test. Once I passed the test, I then had to take an oral proficiency examination in consecutive interpreting, simultaneous interpreting, and sight translation. After passing that exam, I was certified. Since that time, in order to maintain my status as a CHI, I regularly taking continuing education courses.
When you hire certified healthcare interpreters, you know they meet a minimum standard of proficiency by passing the oral proficiency exam. You are also assured that they understand ethics as well. Also, they must take continuing education to keep skills polished. The interpreter invests in himself and his profession. Without a certification, you have no such guarantee.
I urge you to utilize the registry links that I shared above for both organizations When choosing an interpreter, your first attempt should be to locate a certified interpreter. When that is not possible, the appointment should be postponed until one can be secured. For those languages where certification is not available, the registries should still list interpreter members who are striving for certification.