How to Get Certified Bilingual

You may be able to proficiently speak a language other than English, but for many employment opportunities, you'll have to prove it. That can be done by obtaining one of several bilingual certification documents from the state in which you live. There are different bilingual certifications for different jobs; teachers, for instance, often need to receive a bilingual certification specifically for teaching. The results, however, can be worth it. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, teachers with bilingual certifications have better job prospects, as there is a shortage of qualified candidates in this field.

Narrow down your bilingual interests. The options for bilingual certification vary by state, and an array of certificates are available for different disciplines. For instance, Illinois offers a Transitional Bilingual Certificate that confers certification on people who speak English and another language fluently and wish to teach in public schools. Different certifications may be required if you wish to become a translator. Decide what job you will use your bilingual talents for and pursue the appropriate certificate.

Research available graduate programs that offer bilingual certification. While states offer certificates for those already fluent in another language, many graduate programs offer a range of classes that will result in a bilingual background and the appropriate certificates. According to Education Portal, an education information website, applicants to these graduate programs must enter as non-degree-seeking students.

Determine which test is the appropriate one. If you completed your studies outside the U.S., you'll likely have to take an English proficiency test. Some states also offer a specific test for those applying to be bilingual in English and Spanish. In Illinois, there is a separate test for those who wish to be certified as bilingual in English and another language that is not Spanish.

Register for your language test. Whether you pursue a state certification or work through a graduate program, you'll have to schedule your testing date far in advance. For the Illinois Transitional Bilingual Certificate, test takers are required to register up to a month in advance. Often, this registration can be completed online.

Take the test and request your certificate. If you pass the appropriate language test, you will likely receive your certificate automatically some time later or apply to have it sent to you. In Illinois, those who pass their test must request a copy of their certification from the regional office of education. Some other documents may be required to successfully obtain your certificate.

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About the Author

Michael Batton Kaput began writing professionally in 2009. He is an editor at two magazines and a freelance writer. He has been published in "Egypt Today," Egypt's leading current affairs magazine, and "Business Today Egypt," Egypt's number one English-language business magazine. He attended Denison University where he earned a degree in political science and English literature.