The Pathway to Interpreting (Part 2)

In our last blog, we explained what you need to do if you are new to the industry and looking to become an interpreter. We went through the differences between community interpreting and public service interpreting, and we also provided insight on what the Level 3 Community Interpreting exam looks like.

In this instalment, we will be focusing on the next steps. In other words, what to do if you already have a Level 3 Community Interpreting qualification (or if you have plenty of experience, formal or informal) and you are hoping to take the next step into public service interpreting. So, let’s dive right in.

What is public service interpreting?

Public service interpreting refers to working within settings such as the police, court, prison, Home Office etc. The key distinction between community interpreting and public service interpreting is that for community interpreting, you need to have a Level 3 qualification, whereas for public service interpreting, you must have a Level 6 qualification.

What is a Level 6 interpreting qualification and how is it different from a Level 3?

There are two main differences between the Level 3 and the Level 6. First of all, the topic of the assessment. For Level 3, you will be assessed by way of role play in a medical, mental health, or social services setting. The Level 6, in contrast, is assessed within the legal setting. That means that every section of the assessment or exam will be focused on terminology from police, court, prison, probation, or immigration settings.

The second main difference is the modes of interpreting that are assessed. At Level 3, we assess your consecutive interpreting skills and your sight translation from English skills. At level 6, there are more skills you need to master, namely consecutive interpreting, simultaneous interpreting, sight translation to and from English, and written translation to and from English.

What types of Level 6 qualifications are there?

We offer two kinds of Level 6 qualifications – the coursework-based Level 6 Diploma in Community Interpreting (DCI) and the exam-based Level 6 Diploma in Public Service Interpreting (DPSI), both in the Law pathway. You can find out more about the differences between the two here.

In short, our Level 6 qualifications are fully recognised and accredited and are suitable for work in courts, prisons, Home Office and the police, as well as for all community interpreting settings. The DPSI is in its essence an exam with a pass or fail grading system. As such, we would not advise new linguists to go for this option without taking a preparation course before attempting the exam.

The DCI is more academic and involves self-study with tutor support. The course takes between 9 and 12 months to complete and within it, learners are required to provide written evidence in the form of essays, as well as practical assessments such as role plays and draft written translations.

What do I do once I have completed the Level 6?

When you complete the Level 6 qualification, you will be issued a Diploma. You should send this Diploma to all the agencies you are registered with and let them know that you are now qualified at Level 6. This will mean that you will be able to access more work, and in some cases, your rate will increase too.

You should also make sure to register with agencies that hold the police and Ministry of Justice contracts, so that you can put your newly-found skills to good use.

Finally, you can choose to register with a range of interpreter organisations, associations and other bodies that are only open to Level 6-qualified interpreters.

And that’s it! It’s this simple. You could be working in courts and police stations in as little as six months from enrolment! Keen to know more? Contact us today and find out which Level 6 qualification is the right one for you!