National certification is essential to maintaining a qualified field of interpreters. Without national certification, the level of skill various ASL interpreters possess across the U.S. would not be standardized, and Deaf clients would be unsure of which level of certification to require for various jobs as they traveled from state to state. Interpreters themselves would have to get re-certified in each new state they moved to. While some states still employ the use of their own evaluations, it is generally understood that the primary goal of a new interpreter is to obtain their National Interpreter Certification, or NIC.

A NIC can only be obtained through the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, or RID. The process of certification has changed dramatically through the years. In 1972, RID began evaluating interpreters for the first time. The test contained three parts: an interview with five interpreters and Deaf individuals, two interpreting segments and two transliterating segments. In 1989, RID’s examination process was significantly changed. A two-part exam was administered, consisting of a written portion and a skills demonstration. An applicant must pass the written portion to become eligible to take the signed portion. If an individual successfully passed the skills exam, they were given a Certificate of Interpreting (CI) and/or a Certificate of Transliterating (CT). If a person received both these certificates, they were considered fully certified. Today, three types of certification are offered: The NIC, the NIC-Advanced, and the NIC-Masters, based on the individual’s level of skills in both ethics and decision-making. Beginning in 2008, candidates were required to possess an AA degree in order to take the performance exam, and beginning in 2012, applicants are now required to have a BA degree.

The performance segment of the NIC is now offered in San Diego, provided by CLIP Interpreting. To take your NIC test, email CLIP at

Source: So You Want to be an Interpreter?  Janice H. Humphrey and Bob J. Alcorn. 2007.

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