National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters

Statement Relating to Accreditation Status

Updated: 12/17/2019

To our valued interpreter community:

There are some questions and concerns regarding the National Board's voluntary accreditation status and credentialing programs. Perhaps many of these concerns come from the common misunderstanding of the terms "certification" and "accreditation." The Institute for Credentialing Excellence (ICE) offers the following definitions:

A certification program is designed to test the knowledge, skills, and abilities required to perform a particular job, and, upon successfully passing a certification exam, to represent a declaration of a particular individual's professional competence. In some professions, certification is a requirement for employment or practice.

Accreditation is the process by which a credentialing or educational program is evaluated against defined standards and is awarded recognition if it is in compliance with those standards.

Accreditation is an optional/voluntary process, and is not required for the validity of a certification program. All of the six National Board's certification exams – for Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin, Russian, Vietnamese and Korean - are validated by a third party.

The full reports on the development, piloting and validation of the exams are located here:

Accreditation Status of the National Board's Spanish Medical Interpreter Certification

In January 2018, the National Board elected to no longer pursue accreditation by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) for the National Board's Spanish language medical interpreter oral certification. The National Board remains a member of the NCCA's parent organization, the Institute for Credentialing Excellence (ICE), and the certification offered to all new and/or renewing National Board Members remains valid and acceptable as certification within the relevant medical communities.

Why was NCCA accreditation not renewed for the exam for Spanish?

After long and careful deliberation, the National Board determined that the best and most efficient stewardship and use of our resources was to invest the material and significant time and financial resources accreditation required to improving the certification program for all six languages and expanding to more. That determination was further supported by our organization's desire to bring each of the National Board's language programs under a single supported structure and protocol.

From 2012-2017 the Spanish language certification program was accredited. Accreditation is not awarded; it requires a substantial fee. When the other six languages were developed, piloted and launched, the NCCA required the same fee for each language even though the strict standards required by the certification industry were followed and maintained and all six languages were developed under the same standards.

To better streamline our continuing efforts to bring each of our language programs into testing, support and management parameters that meet or exceed national accreditation standards, a strategic decision was made to not renew what the National Board essentially deemed to be onerous costs and time associated with continuing accreditation for the Spanish program, let alone the exams in the other five languages.

At the same time, the NBCMI was planning to include On-line proctoring, an innovative, secure and flexible web-based tool, in order to facilitate for many medical interpreters to access the test from home, and this way avoid long-time traveling expenses and missing days of work for many candidates. The NCCA declared not being ready to accept this option for accreditation. Our decision then was crystal clear: to move out of the accreditation and forward, for the benefit of the interpreters' community, nationally and internationally.

Is my current CMI certification valid?

Yes. Currently certified interpreters remain fully certified and enjoy the full benefits of their credential. Going forward, all CMI interpreters applying for new and recertified credentials will continue to enjoy the fully-certified status our CMIs have come to expect, and which is widely accepted by the medical community at large.

For further information, please refer to the development and validation reports for all six languages here:

The National Board is committed to continuing to offer the valuable and market-proven certification services that have become the hallmark of the National Board. Thank you for your continuing partnership!

We welcome you to forward any further questions, comments or concerns to the National Board Chair, Xiomara Armas: [email protected]

In addition:

Some of our CMIs from California have reached out to ensure that this change won't affect them with Worker's Compensation. Here are some additional FAQ's addressing the state of California:

Is the NBCMI'S Testing and Certification still valid and accepted in the medical interpreting field in California?

Yes, absolutely. As related to the state of California, the CA Dept. of Industrial Relations will continue to list the National Board and CCHI as the two acceptable paths to formal certification and credentialing for interpreters and the DIR (Dept. of Industrial Relations) does not require or recognize accreditation as a factor in accepted credentialing. Further, the NBCMI Certification remains a legally valid and acceptable credential as defined by CA Government Code Section 11435-11435.65.

Will my hourly rates as a NB certified interpreter decrease or be affected due to the change in accreditation?

No. The DWC's (Div. of Workers Compensation) interpreter service regulations (originally effective Aug. 13, 2013 and extended by AB 1376's amend. of Labor Code section 4600(g)) makes no distinction between the fees provided to Certified interpreters, regardless of accreditation, and the NBCMI exam remains one of the two permitted methods to become Certified for medical appointments and medical legal exams. See

Will the change in accreditation permit me to remain listed as a medical interpreter?

Yes. NBCMI certification entitles our members to be listed on the National Board registry of Medical Interpreters, the State Personnel Board webpage and/or the California Courts webpage.

Does accredited Certification provide me with any additional benefits under California law and/or to existing or potential employers?

No. Under the State of California's laws and administrative rules, accreditation is not mandated, addressed or otherwise contemplated in any way. There are clear distinctions by and among certified interpreters (ideal), registered interpreters (for languages where no certification is available), and provisions for non-certified and non-registered interpreters to be used if and when necessary.

December 17, 2019