Becoming a certified or qualified health care interpreter in Oregon is essential to providing accurate and effective interpretation.  On this page, we help you understand exactly what certification and qualification is and how to complete the process.  

If you still have questions, please contact us at 503-893-9660 or

Important Note:  We as the OHCIA are a non-profit that resources and supports health care interpreters.  We are not the entity that oversees certification or qualification, nor do we accept applications for this process.  This is the responsibility of the Oregon Health Authority’s Office of Equity and Inclusion. 


What is certification and qualification?

Certification and qualification are Oregon state standards for health care interpreters (HCIs) set by the Oregon Health Authority.  They exist to ensure quality interpretation services for limited English proficient (LEP) patients and to secure recognition of the HCI as an integral part of the medical team.  

What is the difference between certification and qualification?

Certification is only available for seven languages: Spanish, Vietnamese, Russian, Korean, Arabic, Mandarin, and Cantonese due to limited languages available for testing on a national exam. The requirements include three main components:

Qualification is available for all languages, and does not involve taking a national exam.  To get qualified, there are three major requirements:

  • Completion of an Oregon Health Authority approved 60 hour HCI training
  • 40 hours of direct health care interpreting experience
  • Proof of oral proficiency in English and the target language

For the full list of requirements, visit the Oregon Health Authority’s reference sheet.

Learn More About the Process and Costs of Certification

Learn More About the Process and Costs of Qualification

To complete your application, or for additional information, visit the Office of Equity and Inclusion’s website.

What is the Office of Equity and Inclusion? 

The Office of Equity and Inclusion is the part of the Oregon Health Authority that oversees and regulates the certification and qualification process for health care interpreters.  They offer a monthly health care interpreter application review session on the first Friday of every month.

To contact the Office of Equity and Inclusion, we recommended you first trying contacting them at:

For more urgent questions of that office, reach out to their staff directly:
Carol Cheney - Equity and Policy Manger
April Turner - Health Equity Workforce Assistant
Kweku Wilson - HCI Learning Collaborative Coordinator

Which national organization (NBCMI or CCHI) should I choose for taking my written and oral exams for certification?

Both the National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters (NBCMI) and the Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters (CCHI) offer comparable exam content and pricing, and each have their individuals benefits in terms of languages offered, testing locations, etc.  A good first step is to visit their websites:

National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters

Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters 

We also recommend you check out our helpful fact sheets on the exams:

NBCMI Exam Costs and Process

CCHI Exam Costs and Process

CCHI/NBCMI Comparison


I interpret for a certifiable language, but can I get qualified instead?

The answer is yes, if you interpret for a certifiable language (Spanish, Vietnamese, Russian, Korean,  Arabic, Mandarin, or Cantonese), you can choose to become qualified instead.  However, at the three year renewal mark, you will be required to transition to certification.  We recommend that you get certified if you are able to because it is the highest standard you can achieve.

Why should I get certified or qualified?

There are many great reasons for getting certified or qualified:

  • Getting properly training is key to providing accurate interpretation services
  • Many interpreter agencies will give a pay increase for certified or qualified interpreters
  • For those certified, you receive the status of a Certified Medical Interpreter (CMI) or Certified Healthcare Interpreter (CHI) , depending on which exam you take
  • You become an active part of bringing professionalism to the health care interpreter industry
  • Your high level of expertise benefits the limited English proficient (LEP) patients you interpret for

Contact us today for free support in completing your certification/qualification!  



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