How To Become An Interpreter In Washington State? An Overview

How to become an interpreter in Washington state? It’s a crucial question for you if you are planning to become an interpreter in Washington state. Hence, the interpreters who want to work as a professional interpreter in Washington state must pass bilingual fluency tests. Moreover, they must become certified before serving clients in a specific field.

Likewise, applicants must be at least 18 years old to qualify for the exam.  However, it is not mandatory to have any formal education or experience to become an interpreter in Washington. The certification is available in Mandarin, Spanish, Russian, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Korean, and Laotian. This post focuses on the worth mentionable points in the following sections.

How To Become An Interpreter In Washington State? An Overview:

If you are planning to become an interpreter in Washington state then this post is perfect for you. Moreover, you will learn different field-specific requirements, certifications, examinations, and other relevant guides. Here we’ve discussed the most essential points to become an interpreter in Washington state below.

1. Registration for Becoming An Interpreter In Washington State:

New DSHS employees must be approved for language testing by a supervisor to provide interpretation services to DSHS clients. Moreover, external applicants must register for the language exam and pass it before they apply for jobs.

Registration for Becoming An Interpreter In Washington State.

Similarly, this exam is also available to those seeking certification but didn’t use it for work with DSHS. Furthermore, these candidates must obtain, complete, and submit exam applications to their local exam center. Finally, the accepted applicants receive confirmation letters and pretest packages in their mail inbox.

2. Writing Component for Becoming An Interpreter:

All language exams start with a writing section that tests their written translation skills. Moreover, some exams include the social services test, and applicants must pass the writing test. They should give the said test before moving on to the oral exam. So, the writing test evaluates translation ability, reading comprehension, and vocabulary questions.

Writing Component for Becoming An Interpreter

However, the test content depends on the applicant’s specialty. For instance, medical interpreters need to answer on professional ethics, medical terminology, and clinical or medical procedures. Likewise, most tests also include an essay question, where answers evaluation based on structure, readability, and thoroughness.

3. Oral Assessments for Becoming An Interpreter:

In Washington state, the oral exam includes three consecutive interpretation sections, simultaneous interpretation and sight translation. Moreover, Interpretations usually based on the recorded conversations and sight translations require reading aloud. Thus, all oral exams evaluation focuses on grammar, fluency, vocabulary, and pronunciation.

Oral Assessments for Becoming An Interpreter

Similarly, Specific levels of certification also have other related requirements. For example, social workers who pass the consecutive interpretation and sight translation sections earn level 1 certification. Likewise, those who give all segments to make level 2 status. Finally, those who are certified at higher levels are eligible for a more significant number of assignments.

4. Certification Maintenance to become an Interpreter in Washington state:

Individually department determines the passing score on required examinations and any additional requirements based on the specialization. For instance, Court interpreters must score a minimum of 80 percent on the written test and at least 70 percent on the oral examination. Moreover, interpreters also must submit their background detail for verifications.

Certification Maintenance to become an Interpreter in Washington state

Similarly, Certified interpreters must complete and continuing education requirements to maintain their certification status. However, education activities requirements depend on their specific field of specialty. In Washington state, courts report that certified court interpreters must complete 16 hours of DSHS-approved continuing education activities every two years.

5. DSHS Social Service And Medical Certification:

In Washington state, certification exams are available for the following languages: Cambodian, Laotian, Korean, Spanish, Chinese Cantonese, Chinese-Mandarin, Russian and Vietnamese. Moreover, all other languages take a similar “screening test” to consider as authorized languages. In this process, you must take a written test first, and it takes approximately 1 hour.

DSHS Social Service And Medical Certification

Likewise, you need to wait for the written test results, and it should arrive within 2-4 weeks. After passing the written test, you must apply to take the oral examination. Furthermore, the oral exam is crucial, and it includes consecutive interpreting and sight translation. Likewise, the oral test results should publish within 4-6 weeks.

For more details and schedule an exam online, you can visit Moreover, you will also find study materials available on the DSHS/LTC website.

6. Language Assistance Plan In Washington State:

The court must follow the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 2.42 and 2.43 and the Language Assistance Plan (LAP). All these for the Municipal Courts of King County to ensure equal language assistance. Moreover, Washington State law secures the rights of deaf persons, and Hard of Hearing persons or speech are unable to understand readily.

Language Assistance Plan In Washington State

Similarly, this also covers those who communicate spoken English and need qualified interpreters to assist them in legal proceedings. Additionally, Washington State law secures the rights of non-English speaking cultural background persons who are unable to communicate in English. As a result, they cannot be fully protected in legal proceedings unless qualified interpreters are available to assist them.

7. Washington State Interpreter Commission:

The Washington State Interpreter Commission’s key responsibility is to serve as a policy-making and advisory body to Washington Courts. Likewise, it includes the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), concerning court interpreters and language assistance in general in the legal settings. Moreover, the Commission sets policy for the courts and the Court Interpreter Program.

Washington State Interpreter Commission

It is also responsible for interpreter registration, testing, certification, continuing education, discipline, and training. Additionally, The Commission also takes responsibility for strategic planning and working with educational institutions and other interpreter program stakeholder groups. So, the Commission aims to develop resources to support court interpreting in Washington state.

8. How do I become a Certified Interpreter?

You can become a certified interpreter in Washington state if you can pass the required DSHS written translation examination. Alternatively, you need to pass a DSHS recognized written translation examination offered by the listed recognized organization.

How do I become a Certified Interpreter

Similarly, the DSHS Language Testing and Certification Program offer both examinations for professional interpreters.

9. The Process To Become a Court Interpreter in Washington state?

If you want to become either a certified or a registered interpreter in Washington state, you must have followed the process required by the authority. Being a credentialed shows courts that the interpreters have demonstrated their competency and ability to interpret in a court setting. So, to become credentialed, the interpreter must go through the following steps:

i) You must pass a written examination

ii) You should Attend an orientation class

iii) You need to pass an oral exam in 3 modes of interpreting (to become Certified)

iv) You need to pass a language proficiency interview (to become Registered)

vi) You need to join a class on ethics and protocol

v) You must pass a criminal background check

vi) You must take the interpreter oath

If you need additional information on becoming a Certified or Registered Court interpreter, visit the Washington State Courts website.

The Process To Become a Court Interpreter in Washington state

Moreover, to become a legal or court interpreter, you must contact the Washington State Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC). You can take the court Written Exam once every two years. Similarly, you can also take the Oral Exam once every two years. It is mandatory to pass both parts of the certification exam to become a Court Interpreter in Washington.

Moreover, you should contact them for the dates of the next cycle in advance. Keep in mind only AOC registered interpreters can interpret in the courtroom settings. Be sure to visit The Language Doctors‘ official website to hire Interpreters to meet all your language services demand.

Moreover, you will find interpreter resources and career guides, and tips for finding new opportunities in our Blog sections. So, check out our recent blog posts.

10. Code of Professional Responsibility for Judiciary Interpreters:

According to General Rule (GR) 11, the use of qualified interpreters must be authorized in judicial proceedings. This authorization includes the Deaf or hard of hearing or non-English speaking individuals in the Washington State.

Code of Professional Responsibility for Judiciary Interpreters

The main goal of this Code is to establish and maintain high standards of conduct in the courtroom. So, the authority wants to preserve the integrity and independence of the adjudicative system.

11. You are advancing your career as a professional interpreter:

So, you’ve found your passion and want to become a professional interpreter. Moreover, you’ve taken one interpreter training program and discover that you love working as an interpreter. Or, you’ve just started your plan, and you’d like to know more about your career potentiality.

You are advancing your career as a professional interpreter

Either way, it is better to know about the certifications and the process of becoming a professional interpreter. Additionally, it will help you choose the area of interpreting matches with your qualification, experience, and interests.


To become an interpreter in Washington state, you should consider the above points carefully. Moreover, you may realize how important is it to know all the requirements, certifications, and essential information to make a proper game plan. We hope all the points above will guide you with all the essential information to develop your career as an interpreter in Washington state.

We will be happy to hear from you if you really find this post helpful. Please let us know if you have any further queries in the comment section below!

Call The Language Doctors team today to hire a Court Interpreter or Translator. Our expert and experienced team will be happy to help you as per your language services demands.

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