Frequently Asked Questions

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

When you follow the steps in how to schedule a test online, you will see open test dates and time slots. Then you can pick your test date and time.

Certificates issued by entities other than Washington State DSHS will be considered on a case by case basis. Please consult WAC 388-03-114 for related information.

Since test dates and time slots are extremely limited, you would want to keep your test appointment if at all possible. To reschedule, you need to email (dshsct@dshs.wa.gov) or call (360-664-6111) our office within ten (10) calendar days from the date you created your test appointment. It is your responsibility to follow through with your request within the ten-day (10) time frame. Any oral or written request after the 10-day time frame will not be honored. If more than 10 days have passed since you created your test, then we will need documentation for the emergency situation that is preventing you from attending your test as scheduled. If more than 10 days have passed, and no documentation can be provided, then you will have to pay another test fee to reschedule your test.

Please contact the Office for the Deaf and Hard Hearing in the Department of Social and Health Services for information about becoming an ASL interpreter. Their contact information can also be found in the Government Pages in the phone book.

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 Chinese-Cantonese, Chinese-Mandarin, Korean, 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.


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.

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.

     

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)