You may be wondering, What is a Court Interpreter?  A Court Interpreter is an expert in foreign language interpreting for proceedings. Court interpreting is a specialized interpreting field, and people also called them a certified court interpreter. However, not all but most states require certification for all services performed in Court or any legal proceeding outside the courtroom.


The certification procedure consists of a written exam. Besides, the candidate can take the oral exam after passing the written exam. However, the courts do not certify all languages for interpreting services in the courtroom. This blog post focuses on more details about a Court Interpreter, Steps to be a Court Interpreter, Job opportunities, qualifications, Tips, and so forth.


Check out the following blog post to find more about What is a Court Interpreter? Steps to be a Court Interpreter, Employment Outlook, Income, Tips for using an Interpreter, and so forth.

What is a Court Interpreter?

A Court Interpreter’s responsibility is to help a foreign language speaking individual communicate in a judicial environment. Likewise, he/she interprets in a civil or criminal court proceeding for a witness or defendant who speaks a different language. Besides, Court interpreting also includes arraignment, motion, pretrial conference, preliminary hearing, deposition, trial, etc.

In a nutshell, a court interpreter interprets the speeches used in a court proceeding for a witness or party who speaks a foreign language. You must be fluent in both languages and be well conversant in both the U.S.A. and international legal systems.

What is a Court Interpreter

Moreover, a legal interpreter might be responsible for interpreting in depositions, trials, arraignments, legal meetings, or preliminary hearings. A court interpreter does not require any specific degree. However, most of them have at least a bachelor’s degree. Court interpreters must accurately interpret foreign language into the native language regardless of their educational background or vocabulary level.

Similarly, they do so without changing the speaker’s language register or status of language knowledge. They are also sometimes responsible for translating written legal documents from a foreign language or foreign language to a native language.

What Does a Court Interpreter Do?

In special judicial cases may require translating oral information into another language, the participant requests court interpreters. Moreover, Interpretation is a reliable way of expressing themselves if any witness is needed to stand in the courtroom who don’t speak the official language. Similarly, a court interpreter must read aloud documents written in a foreign language.

What Does a Court Interpreter Do

Likewise, you have earned a bachelor’s degree in translation studies and demonstrate an exceptional understanding of native and foreign languages, then you can start as a court interpreter. So, you must also have a strong background in legal terminology and the legal process. Besides, it would be best if you started on the job training after your graduation.

What if I Need an Interpreter?

In case someone doesn’t speak, read, or understand the native language well, the Court provides free language access services to participants. Moreover, it is the Court’s goal to ensure free access to information for all participants in the courtroom. However, the Court always conducts proceedings in the native official language of the state.

What if I Need an Interpreter

If you can’t speak the official language well, you need an interpreter to talk to the judge and understand others’ speech. For more information on applying for a free interpreter, you can visit the Court’s online webpage for the interpreter request form.

Some Tips for Using an Interpreter

It is crucial to use a court interpreter because you must go through another person to get your message or information to the judge. You can follow these tips to use an interpreter better in a courtroom:

=> Listen attentively and carefully to the interpreter.

=> Before you answer, please wait for the interpreter to finish his/her talking.

Some Tips for Using an Interpreter

=> Speak slowly and clearly so that the interpreter can everything you say.

=> Keep patience and don’t interrupt, even if someone in the courtroom says something negative about you because you will get an opportunity to speak in the proceedings.

How to Become a Court Interpreter in 7 Steps

In this blog post, we have discussed the steps you should take to become a court interpreter. Moreover, check out the following section to learn about degree requirements, salary, and job outlook to see if this career fits you.

1. Earning a High School Diploma

As you plan to be a court interpreter, you can take several different educational paths to achieve your goal. However, you will require at least a high school diploma, as most employers will require that.  So, High school courses can prepare you for this career, including English, communication, and reading comprehension skills. Moreover, aspiring legal interpreters should also focus on English classes in high school.

Earning a High School Diploma

Because their career success also depends on accuracy in this language. Additionally, you should also take foreign language courses at this level if you didn’t raise in a multilingual environment. Likewise, it’s ideal for prospective legal interpreters to develop the necessary language skills.

So, they can start by learning at least one foreign language in high school, for example, Chinese or Spanish. It might be most in demand to consider learning a language at that level.

2. Obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree

You can enroll in a bachelor’s degree in translation studies as an undergraduate program. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most court interpreters hold a bachelor’s degree. Likewise, you will be able to concentrate on one foreign language like Spanish, German, or French in this type of program. You can also take additional courses to cover phonetics, diction, composition, and translation processes.

Obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree

Because many courts and other employers require that legal interpreters hold a bachelor’s degree, a Major in a foreign language can help students, but it is not mandatory. Moreover, students will benefit from choosing legal studies as a major or minor to learn the profession’s legal jargon or terminology.

3. Completing a Certificate Program

Great! If you have already earned your bachelor’s degree in translation studies and already fluent in a foreign language. Now, what next? Here comes the certification, and you should consider enrolling in a professional court interpreter certificate program.

Thus, you will study and understand the U.S law and the judicial system by doing such programs. To pursue these programs, you can enroll in 4-year universities, community colleges, and professional organizations. Besides, these courses include simultaneous translating skills, court interpreting, court procedures, and the penal code.

4. Working as a Translator or Interpreter

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that many employers only hire those interpreters or translators who have a required degree with 3 to 5 years of work experience. You can fulfill this prerequisite by working for an interpretation or translation company.

Working as a Translator or Interpreter

Moreover, you may also work as an intern or volunteer interpreter for a community organization to gain hands-on experience in this field.

5. Receiving Formal Training

Prospective legal interpreters can develop their skills through training programs and workshops offered by state courts and local or national interpreter associations. Also, some colleges also offer training programs that teach legal interpreting skills.

Receiving Formal Training

Many programs are associate degree or certificate programs, offering courses like language and legal procedure, linguistics, interpersonal communication, and so forth. Likewise, you can take some of these classes as part or in conjunction with a bachelor’s degree program if you want.

6. Fulfilling Court Requirements and Find Employment

Most state courts mandate that legal interpreters pass a certification examination taken by the Court, a professional organization, or another agency. The Association for Language Access in the Courts administrates many states recognize certification. Moreover, the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators also offers the certification.

Fulfilling Court Requirements and Find Employment

An aspiring legal interpreter may find work as either a professionally qualified interpreters, certified interpreters, or skilled language interpreters. Likewise, they find their desired position within the federal court system depending on their professional credentials.

7. Becoming a Court interpreter

You can become a certified translator or interpreter through the Translators and Interpreters Guild or the American Translators Association (ATA). However, this is not mandatory to start a profession as a court interpreter or translator. Likewise, if you want to be a general interpreter then you can become an interpreter without a degree.   Moreover, Translators and interpreters held approximately 76,100 jobs in 2018, according to the BLS.

Thus, the average wage was about 49,903 USD in this job sector during the mentioned year. Besides, experienced interpreters may consider starting supervisory positions or even pursuing their firms for interpretation service.

What is the Employment Outlook for Court Interpreters?

In 2019, there were 77,400 interpreters and translators employed in various industries, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). A report shows that the number of interpreters and translators’ employment growth will be 20 % throughout 2019-2029. Moreover, this growth is much faster as forecasted in this sector compared to the national average growth rate.

What is the Employment Outlook for Court Interpreters

As per the BLS report, the annual average salary for all interpreters and translators in May of 2019 was approximately $57,000. Likewise, several criteria, including certification, experience, and language, determine the wages. California and Texas have the highest levels of employment for interpreters and translators. However, BLS in 2019 reports that interpreters and translators who work in Washington D.C. earn higher pay.


Court interpretation service is a specialized language interpreting requiring educational qualification, recognized certification, professional training, and several years of job experience. However, their hard work finally pays off, and the court interpreter has promising prospects in the job market and earns a decent amount of money. You can follow the steps mentioned above to become a court interpreter and take the opportunity of the growing career path.

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 requirements.

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