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Court Interpreter

What Does a Court Interpreter Do?

A court interpreter is a person who is fluent in at least one language other than English for which there is a need in the courts.

  • Translates in the courtroom for non-English speaking parties and witnesses in
    • arraignments,
    • pleas,
    • pre-trial hearings, and
    • trials
  • Interpreters can be assigned to courtrooms in
    • criminal courts,
    • juvenile courts,
    • mental health courts,
    • family law courts,
    • jail interviews,
    • psychological evaluations, and
    • some civil cases
  • Interpreters are also sometimes responsible for translating documents from English into another language or from another language into English.

How Does Someone Become A Court Interpreter?

Generally, interpreters for the courts are not employees of the court the way court clerks and court reporters are. They are independent contractors who are paid only when they are hired for a specific assignment and are paid on a daily, or per diem, basis. Requirements to be a court certified interpreter include:

  • Passing a state certification examination that is in two parts. One part of the exam is oral, the other is written.
  • The candidate must be able to accurately interpret for individuals with a high level of education and an expansive vocabulary as well as for persons with very limited language skills--without changing the language register of the speaker.

More information on becoming an interpreter is available at: