The layperson may think that becoming an interpreter simply means that as long as you speak two languages fluently, you can become an interpreter.  There couldn’t be much more to it than that right? Actually there is quite a lot more involved.

The journey to become a trained interpreter with Interpreting New Zealand is seven step process that can take over six months to complete and comprises the following steps:

Application Timeline

Application Timeline


The first step in the process is to submit an application.  Some things to keep in mind when applying:

  • Must be a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident
  • Must be living in New Zealand for at least 18 months
  • Must be proficient in more than one language
  • When applying you will be asked to submit a copy of your CV and a copy of your passport

One last thing to keep in mind is that we will only move forward with your application if your language is one that we are in need of, or one where we have few interpreters.

Language Test

If we evaluate your application, and find that you meet our criteria, we will then schedule a date for you to take a language test. If you are not a native English speaker, the language test will evaluate how well you understand everyday English as used and spoken in New Zealand. The test includes questions about commonly-used phrasal verbs and how they are used; local expressions; common idioms; and subtle differences between frequently-used words and expressions. To proceed further, you will need a score of at least 70% on the test.

If you are a native English speaker, we will test your other language by asking you to record translations of some written statements commonly heard in the situations in which you could be asked to interpret. We will have your translations evaluated by a native speaker of that other language.


When you pass the test, we will invite you for an interview to be conducted with our Training Manager and our CEO.  While the first two steps are designed to evaluate your competency as a prospective interpreter, the interview will determine if you are a good fit for our organization.


If we find that you would be an asset to our organization, we will offer you a place in the current course of interpreter trainees.  There are two courses that you may attend, one in Christchurch, which is composed of five 9 hour weekend modules or the Wellington course which is composed of one 2.5 hour class per week spread over an 18 week period.  Included in both courses are venue visits (e.g. Courts) as well as sessions in language labs.


Following your successful completion of the training course, we will then schedule a written and oral assessment with you.  The assessment will test your ability to put into practice everything that you have learned in the course.  For the assessment we will set up a typical role playing scenario with you, an assessor who speaks the language being assessed, the Training Manager and a native English speaker.

Offer of Employment

If you pass the assessment, we will offer you a contract as an Interpreter!  Yay!  It is over!  …Oh wait, actually it isn’t.  Part of your responsibility when becoming an interpreter with us is to undertake ongoing professional development throughout your employment with us.

Professional Development

Throughout the year, Interpreting New Zealand offers, free of charge, various language workshops, medical and health workshops, court interpreting workshops, NAATI preparatory courses, and more.

So that’s it!  It isn’t for everyone, but if you believe you have what it takes to be part of our team, we would LOVE to hear from you.  You can contact us via email here, or if you wish to apply as an interpreter, you can apply online.