Need up to 30 seconds to load.
My name is Rosa. I'm an interpreter
and today I will share with you a step-by-step roadmap on how to
become a court-certified interpreter.
Most states are part of the National Center for State Courts also known as “The Consortium”
It’s an organization that, among other things, oversees the certification process but it
is a little different from state to state.
The first thing you should do is check out their Language Access Program by State map
then click on the state where you want to certify because that’s where the money is.
I will include this link in the description box.
Once you visit your state’s language access website, contact them to find out how to complete
the initial application.
In the application, they’ll ask for details about education, experience, and personal
information for them to run a background check.
Of course, candidates have to be eligible to work in the US.
After you apply, the next step is attending a workshop.
Make sure you don’t miss the deadline to register for that.
Workshops have limited seating and only take place on specific dates each year so don’t
waste any time and find out where and when your state will have theirs.
There is a cost for the workshop and for what I’ve seen they can run anywhere from $50
These are usually 2-day events that are mandatory to get certified, no matter your background.
In many states, it’s the first step but in others, this could be the second or third
Anyway, in these workshops they’ll give you an overview of your state’s court system,
where courts are located, they’ll teach you the basics about court proceedings, interpreting
techniques, and how to prepare for the next steps in the process.
Then you’ll have to take a written test.
Keep all deadlines in mind because, again, these usually take place during specific dates
of the year, and in some states only once a year.
The test costs about $200
Part I is to test your general language proficiency in English and there are 135 multiple-choice
The questions range from idioms, legal terms, finding the right synonym or antonym to finding
the correct meaning of high register words like those you’d find in a GRE exam.
Part II is to test your knowledge of courtroom ethics and protocol
The test I took was a paper test.
I found that to be very helpful because I could scribble all over the paper and I made
notes to myself that helped me choose the right answers.
Many candidates that tested with me passed, so I’m assuming the passing rate for this
exam tends to be high but don’t underestimate it.
The passing score is usually 80%
Once you pass the written test in some states they will add you to their public roster as
a qualified or registered interpreter but you cannot call yourself a certified interpreter
The next and usually final step would be to take the oral exam.
I had to pay $475 here in Hawaii.
Depending on your language, you may have to take a full examination or an abbreviated
Some states may require a language proficiency interview if there’s no test for your language.
If you have to take the full examination, here’s what you’ll have to do:
You’ll have to sight translate a short text of 225 words, from English to a foreign language
It could be something like a letter to a judge, a police report or a contract and you have
six minutes total to complete each part.
I asked my proctor to count two minutes to let me know when to start interpreting and
it worked out perfectly.
This part can be easily underestimated but please do not.
These sections are short but they have 25 scoring units each which means your chances to make
mistakes are minimum.
You have to pass with an average score of 70% and an individual score per section of
no less than 65%
After you’re done with sight, you move on to the consecutive part.
This is the longest part of the test and it takes 22 - 30 minutes.
There are between 75 - 90 scoring units and they seem to be spread around nicely.
In my case, the scenario was a witness interrogation *examination*
The utterances were manageable except for two or three.
You only get two repetitions, so use them wisely.
The last part is the simultaneous section.
It takes about 10 minutes and there are 75 scoring units.
It’s a scenario where an attorney is delivering either opening or closing arguments to a judge
or jury at a speed of 120 words per minute and it’s only about 850 words long
With proper practice, this speed is actually very manageable.
Most of it is just the attorney speaking, but one thing that threw me for a loop was
an exchange that took place at the end where there were other voices representing a judge and I think
another attorney and I was not expecting that at all.
The test is scored by two rates, so it takes time to get your grades.
The passing score is 70% per section.
Once you pass the oral test you can officially call yourself a court-certified interpreter.
It took exactly three months for me to get my scores.
In some states like Hawaii, they have a tier system based on your scores and they give
you priority the higher you score which means more money in your pocket and a great incentive
to do great in your test.
Just to give you an idea of the timeline: I completed my application and registered
for the workshop in December of 2018.
I took the workshop in February of 2019.
The written test was two months later and the oral test in December of that year.
I received my scores in March 2020.
Rest assured that you can do it, if you work smart and hard.
There are great tools out there that can help you prepare to ace it.
I will share videos in the future about the tools I used to prepare for these tests so
if you are interested in that, stay tuned, but for now,
Thank you so much for watching! ¡Adiós!