This is the second post of the “Unpacking Medical Interpreter Certifications” series, check out the first post (NBCMI edition) here.

If you are thinking of becoming a medical interpreter, having a national certification is key to paving the way for a successful career in the field.

In this post series, we will give you valuable information on the certifications provided by the two major medical/healthcare interpreter accreditation bodies in the country, NBCMI and CCHI.

It’s time we take a look at the Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters, the CCHI.


What is the CCHI?


The Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters (CCHI) is a national nonprofit organization founded in July 2009. The organization develops a national interpreter certification program in order to assess medical interpreters’ competence and help ensure the quality of interpreting in any healthcare setting and modality of interpreting.


Benefits of getting certified as a medical interpreter with the CCHI:


Interpreters are essential healthcare workers and an integral part of the patient care team. 

National certification places medical interpretation on par with other professions, including other allied healthcare professions.

The CCHI is the first and only organization certifying healthcare interpreters in the U.S. to receive NCCA accreditation for its certification programs. Also, candidates and certified CCHI interpreters are added to their public registry.

The organization offers three types of certification credentials: the knowledge-based CoreCHI certification, the performance-based CoreCHI-P certification, and the performance-based CHI certification in Spanish, Arabic, and Mandarin.


Basic CCHI Requirements for becoming a medical interpreter:

Before diving into the certification process, make sure you meet these basic requirements:

Let’s take a closer look at the Interpreter Training prerequisite, and how you can meet the criteria according to CCHI standards.


Interpreter Training: a vital step for the certification process


The CCHI requires applicants to have completed 40 hours of interpreter training specifically related to health care. Adequate training means learning in an instructor-led environment, including online self-paced modules.

Any “training” combination of the following is accepted:

  • Completing academic courses in medical interpreting;
  • Completing non-academic training courses in medical interpreting;
  • Adding up hours from multiple courses or conference sessions related to healthcare interpreting;
  • Completing continuing education courses;
  • Developing or teaching interpreter training courses; or
  • On-the-job training (including formal training classes and shadowing or being shadowed by experienced interpreters).

Interpreting experience is not accepted as a substitute for training. So much so, that applicants are not required to have work experience prior to taking the examinations, but having adequate training is key for the certification process.

Once you’ve fulfilled all prerequisites, you’re ready to pursue your medical interpreter certification. Now it’s time to discover what certification is right for you: the CoreCHI, the CoreCHI-P or the CHI.


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CCHI Certifications: CoreCHI (knowledge-based)


The Core Certification Healthcare Interpreter (CoreCHI) is available for healthcare interpreters of any language. It is a valid national professional standard that assesses core professional knowledge as well as critical thinking, ethical decision-making, and cultural responsiveness skills and abilities needed for a healthcare interpreter. 

The exam consists of 100 multiple-choice questions in English about the main aspects of the medical interpreter profession. Most questions represent job-based scenarios that a certified interpreter would encounter on the job.

This certification is also a prerequisite for the CoreCHI-P and CHI certifications.


CCHI Certifications: CoreCHI-P (performance-based)


Like the CoreCHI certification, the performance-based CoreCHI-P certification is intended for interpreters of all languages. This certification offers a valid national professional standard that assesses core professional knowledge and cognitive interpreting skills needed for a healthcare interpreter.

Interpreters seeking the CoreCHI-P certification must pass two exams – the CoreCHI professional knowledge exam and the monolingual performance ETOE (English-to-English) exam.

CCHI strongly encourages all CoreCHI certificants to take the ETOE exam as soon as possible, in order to become eligible for the CoreChi-P certification. 


CCHI Certifications: CHI (performance-based)


The purpose of this certification is to offer healthcare interpreters of the most common U.S. languages a valid national professional standard that assesses their core professional knowledge and bilingual interpreting skills needed to perform the duties of the healthcare interpreter. Currently, the Certified Healthcare Interpreter (CHI) certification is available for interpreters of Spanish, Mandarin and Arabic. 

Interpreters seeking this certification must pass two exams – the CoreCHI core professional exam and the respective language-specific performance CHI exam. The candidates must take and pass their bilingual performance exam within 12 months of passing the CoreCHI exam. If they do not pass a CHI exam within 12 months, their CoreCHI score expires, and they must retake the CoreCHI exam before taking a CHI exam again.


The performance exam consists of:

  1. four consecutive interpreting items (bidirectional, English to/from the non-English language)
  2. two simultaneous interpreting items (unidirectional, one in non-English language and one in English) at an average conversation-level speed.
  3. three brief sight translation passages in English from different types of the U.S. healthcare documents to sight translate into the non-English language
  4. one multiple-choice question testing translation skills from English to the non-English language.


Looking for something tailored specifically to your needs? Check out our individualized training options to polish up on a specific interpretation mode, prepare for an exam and get personalized feedback.


Continuing Education (CEs): keeping your certification updated


All CoreCHI or CHI certificants must complete continuing education to maintain their certification. The continuing education requirement is 32 hours (classroom or contact) during the four-year period for which the individual’s certification is valid. 


The following conditions must be met regarding these 32 CE hours:

  • 28 CE hours can be in any topic relevant to healthcare interpreting.
  • A minimum of four (4) CE hours must be in performance based training which is defined as training aimed to improve the healthcare interpreter’s skills in the three interpreting modes – consecutive, simultaneous and sight translation, and translation.
  • A maximum of eight (8) CE hours may be in qualified topics related to written translation. Keep in mind, translation training may be performance based or not.
  • Out of the 32 CE hours of the four-year cycle, a maximum of 8 CE hours may be earned as non-instructional CE activities. (These hours are optional, not required.) Non-instructional CE activities are defined as “activities that support the healthcare interpreting profession through volunteerism, leadership and research.”
  • The minimum duration of a CE activity is 30 minutes for general topics and 60 minutes for performance-based topics. Courses of lesser duration are not accepted by CCHI.




To wrap up, the CCHI is a reputable nonprofit, raising the bar for medical interpreting through nationally recognized certifications. Getting a national certification in medical interpretation with the CCHI is a terrific step for a thriving career. 

And, once again, we see that continuing education is vital for maintaining your certification, so invest in your growth with approved workshops and courses.

Stay ahead in this dynamic field with De La Mora Institute’s medical courses. Whether you’re a novice or want to excel in a specific mode, we’ve got you covered.




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