Frequently Asked Questions

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

When you schedule your own test online, confirmation is instantaneous. An appointment confirmation letter and appointment reminder letter will be sent to your email address. If you do not receive a confirmation letter within a few minutes of registering for a test, check your junk mail. If you cannot find the email there, please email our office.

Please contact the Office of the Administrator for the Courts for information about becoming a court certified interpreter. Their contact information can also be found in the Government Pages in the phone book.

Please save or print the email confirmation letter for your reference. If you did not receive your confirmation email within a few minutes of registering for you test, check your junk mail. If you cannot find it there, please email our office.

As a DSHS applicant or client, you qualify based simply on your need to communicate effectively regarding DSHS services.

Your written test score will be mailed to you in approximately four (4) weeks. Your oral test score and translator test score will be mailed to you in approximately six (6) weeks.

Usually, services will be provided to help you without any significant delay in service delivery. Please ask your local DSHS office or your medical provider for more information.

DSHS currently certifies social service interpreters, medical interpreters, translators, DSHS active/potential bilingual employees, and licensed agency personnel in Cambodian, Chinese-Cantonese, Chinese-Mandarin, Korean, Laotian, Russian, Spanish, and Vietnamese. For all other languages, The Department authorizes social service interpreters and medical interpreters (screening test).

Test scores will not be released over the telephone to anyone, including the test candidate. A score report letter will be mailed to you once your scores are available. However, if you have not received your test score two (2) months after your test date, you should contact our office to check the status of your test score.

You may talk directly with the local office worker or supervisor. Alternately, you may submit your problem or complaint in writing to that office. Other options include contacting Interpreter Services and Customer Service at 1-800-562-3022. For issues regarding translated documents, contact the office/program/administration as indicated on the document.

Instead of a certificate, interpreter who pass the screening test and complete the required orientation and ethics training will be issued an authorization letter.

If your score report letter states that you have met all test requirements and are now considered provisionally certified or authorized as an interpreter, a certificate/authorization letter will be mailed to you within a month after you have completed:

  • Two hours of new interpreter/translator orientation, and
  • Two hours of interpreter/translator professional ethics training.

     


Yes, and these two terms are not interchangeable. An interpreter is a person who orally transfers a message from one spoken language to another (or manually for Sign Language). A translator is a person who transfers a message in writing from one language to another.

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.

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.

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.

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)

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.