Legal Credentials for Interpreters: Which Ones Do You need?

The demand for interpreters in the United States is projected to rise by 19% through 2028. That means now is the perfect time to either start your career or sharpen your skills. And one of the best ways to skill up is to specialize in one or more fields. However, fields such a medical and legal interpreting have a range of requirements you may need to meet.


Let’s take deeper dive into legal interpreting to cover the education, training, and credentials you’ll need to succeed in the field.


Education and Training for Legal Interpreters


Courts and other employers often require legal interpreters to hold a bachelor’s degree. Some legal interpreters have a degree in foreign languages, translation studies, or legal studies, but you can enter the field even if you studied another subject.


Many colleges and universities throughout the United States offer interpreting certificates, which require a set number of training hours to complete. (These programs are different from state certifications).


You can also enroll in training programs and workshops offered by state courts, local and national interpreting organizations.


If you want to become a court interpreter, you’ll need to train to perform the three mayor types of court interpreting: sight translation, consecutive interpreting, and simultaneous interpreting.


Court Interpreter Credentialing


There are two types of court interpreting certifications: state and federal. Here’s a quick overview of the requirements for each.


State Court Interpreter Certification


Although the requirements vary from state-to-state, you’ll need to pass a written and oral exam in English and a foreign language. State courts offer these exams. Many states also recognize certification through the Consortium for Language Access in Courts as well as the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators.


However, certification exams aren’t available for every language. If your state doesn’t offer a certification for your language, you may qualify to become a registered court interpreter.


Federal Court Interpreter Certification


Becoming a federal court interpreter is a challenging, yet rewarding process that can open the door to new opportunities. But here’s the catch—certification is only available for Spanish, Haitian Creole, and Navajo. If you speak one of these languages, you’ll need to take a written exam and an oral exam separately.


If you don’t speak one of these languages, you can become a professionally qualified interpreter. To do so, you’ll need to:



Preparing for the Future


Once you’re ready to take the state or federal interpreting certification exam, there are plenty of resources to help you prepare. The National Center for State Courts’ self-assessment and study tools are a great starting point.


And if you’re already a working legal interpreter, check out Boostlingo’s interpretation platform. You can manage your onsite schedule, take on-demand phone requests, and more.