Translator and Interpreter Descriptions
OSTI Client Brochure 2016 0329


For some languages, certification skills tests are not available. In those cases, Qualified interpreters (medical) or Registered interpreters (court) are appropriate. 
See “Interpreting: Getting it Right,” a publication of the American Translators Association.
See this document, written by OSTI in consultation with NAJIT in April of 2015:
Why use certified, qualified interpreters and other trained language professionals?


  • Final product: written
  • Edited, polished product, generally delivered by email.
  • Translation Certification offered by the American Translators Association in 26 language pairs.

Other qualifications for translators: Masters degree and/or Ph. D in translation and interpreting, or other college studies in Translation and interpreting when combined with further study in the language, translation test results, or samples of translation work reviewed by a qualified reviewer.
See “Translation: Getting it Right,“a publication of the American Translators Association.

Medical interpreting and translation
This guide was developed by the American Translators Association and the National Council for Interpreters in Healthcare.
What’s in a Word? A guide to understanding interpreting and translation in health care

A Certified Translation is a written translation that is accompanied by the translator’s notarized Certificate of Accuracy stating under oath that he or she made the translation. If the translator is certified, he or she also affixes his certification stamp to the Certificate of Accuracy. (Note: A translator does NOT have to be certified in order to issue a Certified Translation) If a certified translation is requested, the requirements of the organization where the translation will be submitted must be specified.

Transcription and translation of recorded materials:

The written transcription of recorded materials in another language and its written translation, into English. This requires the skills of an interpreter, who is accustomed to dealing with the spoken word, and the skills of a translator, who is accustomed to submitting a written final product. The National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators (NAJIT) has issued guidelines for this product.

Certificate or Certification?

A Certificate is an educational credential, whereas Certification is awarded by a third party standard setting organization, typically not for profit.  Note: Of the approximately 6,000 languages current spoken throughout the world, there are currently certification examinations in only a small proportion. See this comparison of Certificates and Certifications.
OSTI, in close consultation with NAJIT, wrote “Why use certified, qualified interpreters and other trained language professionals?” to highlight the importance of working with Certified interpreters and translators to meet Title VI requirements and ensure effective budget use.

Resources from national organizations:

  • The Federal Government has developed this checklist to determine whether a provider is qualified for an assignment.
  • The Federal Government has developed this collection of videos to explain the Title VI obligations of recipients of federal financial assistance and federal agencies.
  • The National Center for State Courts has developed this checklist for translating forms.
  • The American Translators Association gave this in depth analysis response and review of the Language Access Plans of the Department of Homeland Security on November 14, 2014. This 51-page document explains the demands of language interpretation and translation, gives a definition of translation quality, explains the different types of interpreter and translator credentials, and provides a guide for ordering interpreting or translation services.

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