How to get an interpreter certification

Written by melanie fleury | 13/05/2017
How to get an interpreter certification
Being a courtroom interpreter is just one career option for a certified interpreter. (courthouse image by Randy McKown from

Becoming an interpreter is a productive way to put your knowledge of another language to use while earning a living. Interpreters are used in many settings, such as hospitals, courtrooms, and in federal positions. As the number of languages spoken in our country increases, interpreters are more in demand. Certification requires a time commitment and patience, but interpreting can be a rewarding job.

Decide which type of interpreter you would like to be. For instance, if you would like to be a court reporter, there are specific requirements for that type of position, and they vary by state. Contact the professional organisation for the job you'd like and inquire about testing and requirements. Court reporting information can be found at, which lists state-by-state requirements. The website will help with information on becoming a health-related interpreter.

Complete an accredited interpreter program that is licensed in your state. You may already be fluent in another language, but that will not be enough to become formally certified as an interpreter. Interpreters need to learn the terminologies of different fields, the interpreting protocol in the various areas, and other details specific to each type of interpreting. You may even need to learn multiple dialects and slang within your language.

Work as an interpreter through the program at your school. All accredited programs have a portion of their training that is practical in nature. That is, a part of your program will require that you get experience interpreting in a field setting. You should be knowledgeable about how to speak, read and write in the language that you are interpreting.

Pass a certification test. The interpreter certification test can last from three to four hours, and includes both a verbal and written portion. The different portions of the exam relate to the types of jobs you may encounter as an interpreter. The portion required to become court-appointed is especially demanding, but most schools will give extra help as needed.

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