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DPSI vs CIC: Introduction to Interpretation Qualifications

Jun 2019

Translation ,

DPSI vs CIC: what’s the difference? If you are already learning languages with the goal of working as an interpreter, then it is likely that you are wondering which of these qualifications best suits your needs.

There are a lot of differences between the two. In a nutshell, the DPSI (Diploma in Public Service Interpreting) is a significantly higher standard of qualification than the CIC (Community Interpreting Certificate). Each qualification also consists of numerous levels to work through in order to reach the top tier.

In this article, we’ll explain each of them in more detail and help you figure out which certificate is right for your language level, aspirations and budget.

DPSI Vs CIC: A Quick Guide

DPSI vs CIC qualification


What Level is Your Target Language?

Put simply, the DPSI is no walk in the park.

As it is preparing you to translate in high-pressure situations, the exams are also tough. It is not a qualification to skip into without some research, and be aware that it is not unusual to take a few attempts to pass.

The cost to take the exam in 2017, which is set by the Chartered Institute of Linguistics, was £680. Therefore, if you decide to take on the DPSI, ensure you are doing it with a reputable company providing tuition and support.

If the thought of simultaneous translation into your target language leaves you a little nervous, then a CIC translation course is a good place to start. It still costs money, but if you are not used to studying and working towards professional qualifications then it will set you up for the DPSI in the future.

However, the two qualifications will also afford different work opportunities, so bear that in mind before making your decision.

How Do You Want to Work?

Now, the DPSI is the main recognised qualification in ‘official’ interpretation positions. By that, we mean interpretation in most public sector organisations.

In the context of Scotland, that means anyone aspiring to work for:

  • Scottish Courts Service
  • Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service
  • Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration
  • NHS
  • Most Councils
  • Ministry of Justice
  • Police Scotland

… will need to work towards their DPSI.

The course is not going to help you with language or grammar. You are expected to have a sufficient level long before attempting this course. Rather, it covers the legal of health system (depending on what you are focussing on), good practice in interpretation and opportunity to practice for your exam.

If you want to work for a translation agency but not necessarily in those areas of work, then a CIC may help you land your dream job. You can generally expect, however, for interpreters in possession of a DPSI qualification to get paid more for their work.

DPSI-qualified interpreters receive a higher rate of pay with Global Language Services than those without.

What is Your Budget?

As we have covered already, the DPSI is more pricey than the CIC. However, it is also important to bear in mind that you can generally expect to earn more as an interpreter with DPSI that with CIC.

Budget is important, but try to consider it alongside your current language ability. If you spend more to take DPSI and don’t pass, you would have perhaps been better starting off with CIC.

How Much Time Do You Have?

You need to be able to commit time to any course that you take on. However, try and pick a course provider who can offer you plenty of support and one-to-one time.

If you choose to take your DPSI with Global Language Services, then you can expect weekend courses to consist of ten full-day sessions, or you can opt for a course of evening classes.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us if you would like to discuss your future in interpretation. We are more than happy to help!

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