Frequently Asked Questions

Welcome to DSHS Financial Services Administration's Frequently Asked Questions for our Language Testing and Certification Program!

Per WAC 388-03-153, written test score is valid for two years from the date of your score report letter. If you lost your letter, please send us an email.

The Examination Manual provides detailed information on certification and testing.

No, you get the same certificate as those who have passed sight translation and consecutive interpreting (Level 1) but not simultaneous interpreting. However, your simultaneous test score will remain in our database. When simultaneous interpreting is needed for social service settings, users of simultaneous interpreting will contact LTC to obtain information on who is qualified for such assignment.

One DSHS-approved continuing education activities will count toward all your certificates/authorizations.

  • Example:  You have a social services interpreter certificate, medical interpreter certificate, and a translator certificate.  You only need to accumulate 20 credits in a 4 year period, not 60 credits.

In-Person Activities:

  • There is a sign-in/out sheet that is provided to the host of the approved DSHS CE activity for use the day of the activity. This sign-in/out sheet will be used to allot credits to your files. Make sure to write down ALL your alphanumeric certificate/authorization numbers so the activity is added to all your certificates/authorizations.

Online Activities:

  • Send an email to LTC with the certificate that you receive upon completion of the approved DSHS online CE activities. Include the approval number, found under the List of DSHS Approved CE Activities. Make sure to include ALL your alphanumeric certificate/authorization numbers in the body of the email so the activity is added to all your certificates/authorizations.

Why are these certificate numbers so important?

  • Each certification number represents a record in one of the six databases that we work out of. If you have multiple authorizations/certifications, we won't know, because these databases don't "talk" to each other. Without knowing your record number in each database, we don’t have any other way to verify that we are allotting the credits to the correct file. The six databases are:
    • Employee Certified (ex: EC1234. Employees do not need to report CE)
    • Social Service Authorized (ex: SA1234)
    • Social Service Certified (ex: SC1234)
    • Medical Authorized (ex: MA1234)
    • Medical Certified (ex: MC1234)
    • Translator Certified (ex: TC1234)

Certified languages are those in which interpreters go through conventional modalities of testing. The written and oral test instruments cover both English and a second language (target language). Those who meet the minimum proficiency requirements are issued a certificate.

Due to resource restrictions, it is not feasible to develop language-specific test instruments for each and every language in such a linguistically diverse state as Washington. Therefore, a screening test was developed for all non-certified or screened languages. Interpreters in screened languages go through a totally different modality of testing. Unlike the certified languages, the written screening test is not language specific. The oral screening test utilizes the target language spoken by the interpreter to test his or her linguistic and interpreting skills. This includes any language, even any dialects within a language. Since the scope of the screening test is not as comprehensive as a conventional certified test, those who meet the minimum proficiency requirements are issued an authorization letter in lieu of a certificate.

Currently, no translator test is available for screened languages.

Information about certified/authorized interpreters and translators can be found by clicking on the Find an Interpreter or Translator link found on the navigation bar.

A certified/authorized interpreter is a person who has passed the required DSHS interpreter examination, or has passed the interpreter examination offered by the Washington State Office of the Administrator for the Courts or the Federal Courts, AND has completed the DSHS required orientation and professional ethics training.

You should inform Language Testing and Certification of any changes via USPS mail or email. For a name change request, a court document (photo copy) such as a marriage or divorce certificate should be attached to your request. Please include your current mailing address and phone numbers.

A certified translator is a person who has passed the required DSHS written translation examination, or has passed the American Translators Association written translation examination, AND has completed the DSHS required orientation and professional ethics training.

You may send your request to us in writing or via e-mail  with the following information: your full name, last four of your social security number, language, current mailing address and phone number. Please indicate certificate (medical, social service, or translator) or authorization (medical, social) type.

For DSHS bilingual staff, please call 360-664-6038 to schedule your test. You should learn more about what kind of tests are available, what kind of questions are in the test, and other test-related information before you register for a test. Detailed test-related information and registration policies are included in the Examination Manual. Once you know what tests you need to register for, please follow the steps in the how to schedule a test online. For step-by-step guides, please refer to the following : Written Test Scheduling GuideOral Test Scheduling Guide / Translator Test Scheduling Guide.

All policies applying to testing and certification are included in the Examination Manual. The same policies can also be found in the Washington Administrative Code (WAC 388-03). You can find the answer to your specific question in either document.

Yes. To register for a test, please follow the steps in the how to schedule a test online. For step-by-step guides, use the following: Written Test Guide/ Translator Test Guide/ Oral Test Guide.

Once you are assigned a certificate number or authorization number in your score report letter, you are considered a certified or authorized interpreter or translator. DSHS does not employ interpreters and translators directly. Instead, we contract with external agencies to provide language services to our clients. If you are looking for work as an interpreter or translator, you need to contact the DSHS contracted agencies to start the process. Find a spoken language service provider.

No. Scheduling a test over the telephone is only for DSHS bilingual employees and licensed agency personnel.

Pretest study materials, also known as study guides, are available on our website under the 'Study Materials' tab. You can access the pretest booklets and oral practice recordings by clicking on the appropriate links. Pretest study materials for DSHS employees and licensed agency personnel are available at the DSHS Intranet or SharePoint (internal) website.

If you plan to set up your own language agency or company, please contact Business Licensing at the Department of Licensing . Contact information for Business License Information can also be found in the Government Pages in the phone book.

The pretest materials, both written and oral, are intended to familiarize you with the formats of the test and how test items are constructed. The study guides will help you know what to expect on the test, but will not be enough to help you improve your language ability, your interpreting skills, or your knowledge base in any particular field.

We only test people who are available to serve DSHS clients in Washington State.