FAQs

Practical Questions

How do I become a certified translator or interpreter?

Translation and Interpreting are unregulated professions in the U.S. There is no license or certification that is universally accepted. In general, the more credentials you have, the better. For Translators, the most widely recognized credential is Accreditation by the ATA, obtained by passing a rigorous translation exam. For Interpreters, the matter is more complicated, with different agencies having their own exam. The Federal Interpreter Certification is the most widely recognized, but less than 4% of candidates have ever passed this rigorous exam. Qualification by the Consortium for State Courts allows you to do court interpreting in any of the 20+ states that belong to the Consortium. In addition, local courts may have their own qualifying exam. Also, NAJIT is preparing a new national accreditation exam for judiciary interpreters. In order to work in Immigration Court, you must pass the Berlitz Immigration Interpreters Exam. Finally, major providers of interpretation services, such as Berlitz and LanguageLine, have their own qualification exam in consecutive interpreting, which they require of their staff and free-lance interpreters. You will learn more about this and other aspects of the profession in the Foundations courses, SPT-3800 and SPT-3812.

Will this program lead to job opportunities?

Yes. There is a lot of demand for translators and interpreters. There is also competition. Our program will afford you extensive training, but remember that you must supply the talent and the effort. We regularly receive announcements of job opportunities and recommendation requests. These are passed on to our students, together with professional advice. In addition, we regularly invite major providers of T&I services to give recruiting workshops and presentations to our students. We encourage our students to start doing some paid work in the field as they study, in order to acquire valuable experience. Finally, since many of our students are already professional translators and interpreters, you will have ample opportunity to network, learn, and acquire useful leads from each other. Keep in mind, however, that our program's mission is to advance the individual and the profession through education and research. We are not a job placement agency. We will give you the information, but it is up to you to get the job. Be resourceful. Many of our program graduates now hold top positions in the field.

How long does it take to finish the program?

Our program is designed for people who work, and who can comfortably take only two courses per semester on evenings and Saturdays. At this rate of two courses per semester, it will take two academic years and the intervening summer to finish. However, if you study full time, 4 courses per semester, you can finish in one year (two semesters and a summer). Completing the program varies per student.

Do I need to join the program in order to start taking T&I classes?

No. You can simply register as a "Non-Degree Seeking Student" (See "How do I register?" below). The university allows you to take up to five courses before declaring an affiliation to any particular program. So you can take any course, up to five, without any commitment. We recommend, however, that you begin with the "Foundations" courses, SPT-3800 and/or SPT-3812. Later in the semester, if you decide to join the program officially, just fill out a "Certificate Program Application" (available at the Registrar's Office or on our websites) and send it together with copies of your transcripts (official or unofficial) to the T&I Program Director.

When and where are the classes held?

We offer on average eight T&I courses per semester. Most are on evenings and Saturdays. SPT-3800 and SPT-3812 are offered every semester, typically on Saturday morning and afternoon, so you can do both the same day. An alternate session of SPT-3800 is usually offered during the week. Other program courses are rotated typically once every three semesters (i.e., every year and a half). All courses are generally offered at Modesto A. Maidique (south campus), and occasionally at Biscayne Bay (north campus).

Are there any courses offered in the summer?

At the present time, we offer classes in the summer even though summer semesters are shorter than the regular semesters. Courses offered vary per semester.

Are there any distance learning courses?

SPT-4809, Medical Translation, has been offered as a Web-based, distance learning course. SPT-3800, Foundations of Translation, will be the next Web-based addition. Eventually we hope to offer a Web-based version for all translation courses. Interpreting courses need synchronous audiovisual contact, beyond the text-based platforms of translation courses. We are studying the feasibility of distance learning interpreting courses via real-time video conferencing and virtual classroom platforms. Clearly, distance learning will be a central part of our program's future.

What is the cost per course?

For current costs follow the link below to "FIU Admissions, Registration & Financial Aid"; then click "Student Fees". Each T&I course is 3 undergraduate credits. Given that FIU is a state university, Florida residents pay a reduced tuition. To qualify as a Florida resident you must: a) be a U.S. citizen or resident alien, and b) show the Registrar's Office documentation of your Florida address going back at least one year. For further information visit the Registrar's Office Website at the link below.

Link to: FIU Admissions, Registration & Financial Aid

How do I register?

When you register for the first time, it is best to register as a "Non-Degree Seeking Student." Later in the semester you can apply for admission into the Certificate Program. Due to the large number of students registering at the university, Certificate Program Applications cannot be processed during Open Registration Period. Instead, you should wait until mid semester. If you live in South Florida and you are registering for the first time at FIU, you must come in person to the Registrar's Office at either campus. For further information and instructions, follow the links below.

I'm an international student with questions about visas.

Contact the FIU Office of International Student and Scholar Services. You should also contact your local consulate or embassy and visit the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service Website for official information.

Academic Questions

What is the difference between the Translation Studies Certificate and the Legal Translation and Court Interpreting Certificate Program?

The Legal Translation and Court Interpreting Certificate program is a professional certificate program that provides a theoretical basis and practical experience to prepare the student for the field of General Interpreting, with emphasis on Court Interpreting. All of our interpretation courses are language-neutral (English <>Any Language). Whereas the Translation Studies Certificate Program is designed to train students the techniques and skills needed for the translation (English<>Spanish) of texts, documents, and general correspondence.

What does language neutral mean?

Even though our main language combination is English<>Spanish, when it comes to the interpretation courses, we teach our classes as "Language Neutral,” meaning that we teach you the technique that can be applied to any language.

What if I already have a B.A. or an M.A. in another discipline?

You are not alone. Most of our students already have degrees and follow our program for continuing education or to diversify within their present occupation. This is an academic certificate program, not a degree program. As such, it is independent from any degrees you may hold. However, if you already have a B.A. or M.A., you may be eligible to receive credit for the "elective courses" in the program. If you wish to receive credit, send copies of your transcripts to the Program Director.

Do you offer a B.A. or an M.A. in T&I?

A Masters Degree is in our future plans. Currently, we only offer the Translation Studies and Court/General Interpretation Certificates. We also offer a minor in Translation Studies. Our program courses count toward the Spanish Major. Thus, if you do not have a Bachelors Degree, you could consider using our credits to complete a B.A. in Spanish.

Note that this is a professional level program. Even though, technically speaking, it offers undergraduate credits, the level of our courses is quite high.

Do I need to take the "Pre-requisites"?

The "Pre-requisites" are for students who need to strengthen one of their working languages. Normally, students register first for the "Foundations" courses, SPT-3800 and/or SPT-3812. Depending on your performance in these courses, the instructor or the program director may require you to take one or more "Pre-requisites." If you are in doubt as to what course to take, call the Program Director, who will be able to assess your individual need in a brief telephone interview.

Is there an entrance or exit exam?

No. The purpose of an entrance exam is to predict success in program courses. We believe that this aim is best served by simply taking the "Foundations" courses, SPT-3800 and/or SPT-3812, and seeing how well you do. This, in turn, will allow you to determine if T&I is for you, and if you want to pursue it further. We do not require an exit exam either. You have the right to receive a certificate so long as you complete each of the required courses with a grade of C or better. Instead of an exit exam, we recommend that the students take the various professional accreditation/certification exams, in order of difficulty, as soon as they feel prepared.

Can I receive credit for T&I coursework done elsewhere?

Yes. You can receive credit for the "electives" and for a maximum of three (3) program courses. Decisions are made on an individual basis in consultation with the Program Director. Credit is contingent upon satisfactory performance in other program courses. If you wish to be considered for transfer credit, please send copies of your transcripts to the Program Director. Note that academic credit cannot be given for previous work or professional experience, only for equivalent, upper-level university coursework.

If I finish one of the certificates, how many more courses do I need to complete the second one?

Four to six more courses can get you the second certificate. Notice that the "Core Courses" --SPT-3800, SPT-3812 are required for both the Translation and the Interpretation certificates. Also, SPT-4803, Legal Translation, is valid for both. Then it is a matter of finishing the remaining requirements for the second certificate. Note, however, that the same courses cannot be used as "electives" for both. That is, each certificate must have its own "electives".

Is an internship a requirement?

No, internship is not a requirement but it is optional. It can substitute one of your classes in either translation or interpretation program. However, internships are highly recommended because they give you a chance to learn about the profession in a practical way, to network with other translators and interpreters, and may lead to a job opportunity.

What if I already work as a translator or interpreter, can my experience count for an internship?

Yes, if you have already been working in the field, your work experience may count toward your internship. For more information contact the Program Director.