Chartered Institute
of Linguists

Find your grade

Wherever you are in your career, and however you use (or intend to use) your professional language skills, there is a CIOL membership grade for you. As your career develops our membership pathway will support you and will enable you to advance your career goals.

Membership will enable you to develop your knowledge and understanding, maintain vital professional standards and help you to stay up-to-date through our professional networks, sector-specific information, professional qualifications and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) opportunities.

CIOL membership is a mark of quality: a respected third-party endorsement. It confirms to clients, employers and peers that you meet the highest professional standards for good practice in the use of your language skills.

Use our two-step Grade Finder to quickly find the grade for which you're eligible.

You can also read about the grades in more detail below:

Affiliate grades

Our affiliate grades are for linguists studying either an academic, vocational or professional language qualification who are just starting their career; or for more expereinced linguists who use their languages as part of the their work but not its sole or primary focus.

Student Affiliate

Typically you will be an undergraduate studying a single honours degree in a language or a joint honours degree where a language is combined with another subject. Or you may be studying a post-graduate qualification such as a Master in Translation. CIOL membership is free whilst you are studying and applications are welcomed from students based in the UK and overseas. On successful completion of your qualification you will be eligible to upgrade to Affiliate, your first step to professional membership. 

Study Affiliate

This grade of membership is aimed at candidates working towards a CIOLQ professional qualification, for example the Diploma in Translation, the Diploma in Public Service Interpreting or the Diploma in Police Interpreting. This grade of membership offers a range of benefits including access to exam preparation material, access to the CIOL webinar library and mentoring scheme. For more see the FAQs about this grade.


This grade of membership is for linguists who either do not yet have the qualifications or specific work experience to be admitted as an Associate member or for linguists who use their language skills as part of their role but not its sole focus or are bilingual but may not have full formal qualification in their languages.  

Professional grades

Achieving professional membership demonstrates that you have met the rigorous requirements and standards for good practice in the professional use of your language skills. Membership is open to anyone who uses their foreign language skills in the course of their work. There are three grades of professional membership: Associate (ACIL), full Member (MCIL) and Fellow (FCIL), plus chartership:

Associate (ACIL)

Designed for the practising linguist who is just starting their career. You will have a minimum of one year's work experience in your chosen field using your language skills professionally, plus a UK degree or equivalent qualification in your non-native language. 

Member (MCIL)

Aimed at the more experienced linguist, you will hold a degree level (or higher) qualification, in your non-native language and have a minimum of three years' experience (two if you hold a Masters qualification or equivalent). Linguists with at least five years relevant experience as a language practitioner will also be eligible to apply to become a Chartered Linguist (CL). 

Fellow (FCIL)

Fellowship is the highest level of professional membership and is for linguists working at a senior level, with recognised professional standing.  Typically a fellow is a role model and ambassador for the language professions, demonstrating a commitment to promoting and sharing the highest standards. Fellowship recognises advanced professional standing, distinction as a linguist and/or a distinguished service to languages. A high level of linguistic competence in more than one language is an essential requirement. The award of Fellowship is not intended to confer status, but to confirm it. 

For fuller information on all the grades see the link to Admissions criteria on the right-hand column under Quick links.