Alphabet Soup: Who’s Who in the World of Linguist Membership Bodies

If you’ve spent any time looking into the interpreting industry in a bit of detail, you will have noticed that when it comes to organisations and associations, it’s literally ‘acronym city’. This can be particularly confusing for linguists who are new to the industry, although we do often face questions on this topic from experienced interpreters as well.

That’s why we put together a simple ‘who’s who’ of all the key bodies, organisations and associations that you might come across (and/or choose to join) during the course of your interpreting career. This alphabetical list is not exhaustive, but it covers the main organisations that out team get asked about.


The Association of Interpreters and Translators is a membership organisation whose aim is to achieve and maintain protection of title and the regulation of the profession by helping to raise the skill and passion of Interpreters and Translators. AIT links members with professional training courses, CPD training, networking opportunities and more.

Membership is paid and is linked to regulation (i.e., to be considered for Full membership, as a spoken language interpreter/translator, you must be registered with NRPSI, NRPST or PAIT). Free student membership is also available.  


The Association of Police & Court Interpreters is a professional association of qualified and experienced public service interpreters working within the Criminal Justice System. The objectives of the Association are to raise standards in the profession and foster good relations between its members and the users of their services.

APCI is also the only interpreters’ association to operate a call centre, known as APCI Response, which is used by work providers to contact interpreters.

Membership is paid and student membership could be available.


The Chartered Institute of Linguists is the UK’s Royal Charter body for language practitioners. They aim to enhance the recognition and promote the value of languages and language skills in the public interest. In terms of membership, CIOL offers linguists and language professionals a range of entry points depending on your stage of study, qualifications, career and work experience.

Membership is paid and there are numerous options available. In addition to three professional grades of membership – Associate, Member and Fellow, CIOL offer three Affiliate grades to support students and studying and newly qualified linguists as well as those who use languages as part of their work. Please note, for public service interpreters of common languages, membership is only available to Level 6 (and above) qualified linguists.


The International Association of Professional Translators and Interpreters was created in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 2009. With its international membership, its purpose and activities are intended to help every single translator and interpreter in the world. In a globalised world for a globalised profession, IAPTI stands out as a voice for individual translators and interpreters only, promoting ethical practices.

There is only one level of membership, provided the applicant meets qualification and/or experience criteria.


The Institute of Translators and Interpreters is the only UK-based independent professional membership association for practising translators, interpreters and all those involved in supplying language services. ITI seek to promote the highest standards in the profession, supporting members and representing the industry at the very top level.

ITI provides a range of products and services, both to members and to those requiring the professional services of members. ITI membership provides professional recognition, helps develop your translation and interpreting skills, and keeps you updated and informed. Membership is paid and there are numerous options available based on qualifications and experience.


The National Register of Public Service Interpreters is the UK’s independent voluntary regulator of professional interpreters specialising in public service. NRPSI maintains a public register of professional, qualified and accountable interpreters who adhere to the Code of Professional Conduct, which is searchable online by end users and private clients and is free to access.

There are various options for paid registration (Full Status, Interim A, Interim B or Rare language) depending on the language and experience you hold. Please note, to be a Full Status Registered Public Service Interpreter you will need a Level 6 vocational qualification such as DPSI or DCI and a minimum of 400 hours of evidenced, relevant experience.


The National Register of Public Service Translators will be the UK’s independent voluntary regulator of professional translators specialising in public service. NRPST will develop and maintain a public register of professional, qualified and accountable translators, which will be searchable online.

NRPST is not up and running yet at the time of writing, please look out for updates on our website.


The National Union of Professional Interpreters and Translators is a nationwide branch of Unite the Union, specifically for professional interpreters and translators. NUPIT are an autonomous group within Britain’s and Ireland’s biggest union and the largest union in the UK representing interpreters and translators.

Membership is paid with no restrictions on qualifications or experience.


The Police Approved Interpreters and Translators Scheme technically sits apart from the organisations above as you cannot register directly with it. In order to be added to the PAIT list, you need to be registered with a Language Service Provider (LSP/agency) as well as having the requisite qualifications, vetting and experience.

The LSP will submit your details to Leicestershire Police, you don’t have to do anything – although you may be required to confirm your qualifications, experience and vetting with your LSP before they submit your details. Once you are on the list, you will be given a unique reference number which stays with you regardless of how many LSPs you are registered with.

Being on the list is free, but in most cases, you do need to hold a Level 6 qualification (or above) in order for the LSP to be able to submit your details for approval by PAIT.

Some final comments

As you can see, there are lots of organisations and associations to choose from on this list, let alone beyond it. Before you commit to any (or all) of them, we advise that you:

  1. research the benefits and fees of each organisation;
  2. speak to other interpreters about their experiences and recommendations (for example on social networks such as ISL’s Facebook group or linguist sites like;
  3. remember that although none of these memberships is mandatory, if you wish to grow and develop as a freelancer, it is always advisable to demonstrate your commitment to professionalism and industry standards through the membership of acclaimed organisations.

Missing the key ingredient?

If you want to take the next step but haven’t got the right qualification, let ISL bridge that gap for you. Our Level 6 DPSI (Law), the Level 6 DCI (Law) and Level 7 Dip Trans qualifications are accepted by all these organisations. Contact us today for more information – simply call 0203 475 7771 or email