Certificate in Community Interpreting Frequently Asked Questions

The list below represents popular questions (in bold) that students ask about our accredited courses, and the answers;


  • I’m not currently undertaking any paid interpreting assignments, will this be an issue?

All interpreting experience, paid or unpaid, is valuable for this course and will help you to complete it. Your assessor will support you in finding and completing paid interpreting assignments as you work through your qualification.

  • How long does the course take to complete?

If you can dedicate an average of 3 hours per week to the course it should take you around 6 months to complete. If you can spend more time on it you can complete it more quickly.

  • If am unable to do sight translation after completing the course, would this hinder my employment prospects?

The Level 3 Certificate in Community Interpreting is the entry level accepted by public services for interpreting Assignments including;

  • NHS
  • Home Office
  • Education
  • Social services
  • DWP
  • Housing

In many of these public services there is a need to be able to translate documents by sight, so in these cases your prospects could be hindered; however, sight translation is something you can choose to study as part of our qualifications.

  • After completing the Level 3 Certificate in Community Interpreting course will I be able to work as an interpreter?

The Level 3 Certificate in Community Interpreting is widely regarded as the minimum requirement for interpreters and one which is accepted throughout the industry for the majority of paid interpreting assignments, so it is the ideal starting point for someone who wants to start a career in interpreting.

During the course, our qualified assessors will support you in starting out as an interpreter, helping you to find paid interpreting assignments and launching your career.

When undertaking the course you will be able to choose optional units which will provide you with knowledge and the skills you will need to work in that specialist area. Our qualification is available throughout the UK and course can be completed at your own pace alongside your existing commitments.

  • Are there any discounts available?

We offer payment by monthly, interest free instalments to help all students to pay for the qualification, meaning that you can earn as you learn.

There is a 10% discount available for students on means tested benefits, which include;

  • Income Support
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income based Job Seekers Allowance
  • Pension credit.

You will need to provide proof that you are receiving these benefits before we can apply any discount. For further information on this, contact info@islinguists.com

  • I want to start the course now and will be going on holidays in the next few months. Is there a time limit to finish the course?

No time limit is placed on your studies although we recommend trying to finish the course within 12 months. As long as your assessor is aware of your plans there should be no problems.  You could even study when you’re away if you have an internet connection.

  • Do I have to complete all of the units in the qualification?

You have to complete the mandatory units in the qualification. You will then need to pick a selection of optional units.

  • Within the level 3 you need to do the 4 mandatory units, and pick a minimum of 2 optional units.
  • Within the level 4 you need to do the 3 mandatory units, and pick a minimum of 2 optional units.


  • Do we have to choose the units we want to study ourselves? 

For each qualification there are a number of mandatory units which have to be covered. In addition, you will choose a minimum of 2 optional units you wish to study. You can discuss your choices with your assessor and they will help you decide on the optional units best suited to you.

  • Will all the units be covered in the cost of the course?

The course fee that you pay covers enough units to ensure you have enough credits to achieve the qualification. If you want to choose additional optional units we can support you with that for a small additional, per unit, fee.

  • Is it possible to do an interpreter course if I don’t have a GCSE in English?

It is not necessary to have an English GCSE or any formal English qualification to start the course, that is merely there as a guide to the level of English we would expect. Your language ability is assessed as part of the application process with a short proficiency test.

  • How could I get approval for Level 4 Community Interpreter Course?

After registering your interest for the course, you will need to complete;

  • Full application form including information about you and your experience
  • 20min English proficiency test
  • 20min Target language proficiency test (Level 4 only)
  • 10min telephone interview. The telephone interview is for us to assess your commitment to the course.


  • I do not currently work as an interpreter so I don’t have the minimum of hours required. What are the minimum hours required a week?

There are no minimum weekly hours required however by the time you have completed the qualification you will have worked towards around 80 hours of interpreting. If you are not already working as an interpreter, ISL will support you by helping you find interpreting assignments.

When considering your interpreting ‘experience’ we will take into account both paid and unpaid assignments, which can include providing interpreting services to friends, family and employers.

  • It appears from what I’ve read that in order to work as a community interpreter that I’d have to achieve the certificate available for Level 3. Would I be able to get some advice as to how I ought to go about achieving this qualification?

There are currently 4 levels of Community Interpreting at the moment (1-4). The lowest level accepted by the majority of clients for interpreting assignments is Level 3, which is why we do not offer levels 1 or 2 at the international School of Linguists. The qualifications we offer are vocational, which means you will learn the job alongside completing actual assignments and prove your ability through gathering evidence as opposed to a series of classroom lessons and then a test.

  • Would this qualification allow me to register with the National Register of Communications Professionals working with Deaf and Deafblind People (NRCDP)?

Currently, we do not offer any qualification on British Sign Language (BSL). Clients who ask for BSL often ask for a level 6 qualification level and we have not yet developed our courses to this level. This is something we are considering for the future.

  • I achieved an English qualification in the past but I think the certificate has expired. Do I need to take it again?

No. As part of the application there is a short English assessment allows us to ensure your English proficiency is suitable to start the course. Your language skills will be assessed throughout the course.

  • Do I have to have passed an English exam in the past to be accepted onto your course?

No. As part of the application there is a short English assessment allows us to ensure your English proficiency is suitable to start the course. Your language skills will be assessed throughout the course.

  • Can I start the course from outside the UK, and will I need to be in the UK to complete the assessment tasks?

You will need to be in the UK to complete interpreting assignments and the simulations but you can start the course from outside the UK via the internet, phone and Skype. You will need to be a UK resident by the end of the course in order to receive your certificate.

  • Are these courses online only?

No, the courses are known as ‘blended learning’.

  • Do I have to travel to London to attend any classroom sessions?

No, there are no classroom sessions that you need to attend. The course is blended, distance learning and you can study at a time and in a place convenient to you

  • What does ‘blended learning’ mean?

The blend is something that you will agree with your assessor, depending on how you learn best, but can include a combination of online reference materials, research and assignments, working with your assessor who will support and guide you through the course, written assignments, professional discussions, observations, role-plays, and gathering evidence (such as testimonials and proof of work completed) for the portfolio that you will complete throughout the course.

  • What will happen if I don’t succeed at the first time on the language competence?

If you do not pass the English literacy screening assessments then, unfortunately, we will not be able to accept you on the course. However we will do our upmost to help you and give you further advice on your next steps and how to better your English.

  • I speak three languages, can I combine the three languages together in this course?

Our accreditations are interpreting qualifications and are not language specific so once you have achieved it you will be able to provide interpreting services in multiple languages. During the course you will need to be observed providing an interpreting service and for that you will need to choose one of your languages to be assessed in.


If you have a question which does not appear in the list above, please contact info@islinguists.com and we will be happy to answer it.