3 Things You Should Know About Before Working As A State Court Interpreter

Posted on: 20 May 2016

If you are considering seeking employment as an interpreter or professional translator for the state courts, make sure you know the important details to help you be successful. Here are three things you should know about before taking a job as a state court interpreter.


It is a good idea to know what you can expect to receive in salary or hourly compensation when you work as an interpreter for your state courts. Your compensation will depend on if you are hired to work as a salary employee or as a freelance contractor, working jobs as you get them. While working for the state courts as a salary employee, you will always be guaranteed work and an income. But it can also be helpful to work as a freelance contractor so you are not tied to working only for the state courts. As a freelance contract employee you will be able to seek outside interpreting jobs elsewhere at the same time.

Every state offers a different compensation rate for a job as a state court interpreter. For example, in the state of California, a salaried court interpreter can expect an annual income of $69,685.80 to $78,506.82. But, if you work as a freelance contractor for the state court, you can expect to receive payment of $156 for a half day's work and $282 for a full day's work. Also, working as a court interpreter in the state of Arkansas, you can expect an annual salary of $50,000 to $75,000Then, as a freelance contract employee in Arkansas, you can expect to be paid from $50 to $75 per hour from the state courts.


Depending on which state you will be working as a court interpreter, you will need to have the required certification, qualification, and licensing. This usually consists of taking and passing a written test of your interpreting skills, attending a basic orientation workshop, and completing a records check. 

According to the National Center for State Courts (NCSC), you may also be expected to take an oral interpreting test and pass with a score of 70 percent or nigher, pass a consortium test, and pass a federal certification test, depending on the licensing requirements for the state you will be interpreting in. Often, the state you are certifying in will require you to complete a background check, complete a court observation period, or for you to take and pass an ethics test.

Interpreting Skills

As a court interpreter, you will be expected to have several skills to help you do your job as proficiently as possible. It is important for you to have an educated, or native-like, mastery of the English language. Additionally, you will need to have an equivalent mastery of a second language for which you will be interpreting for the state courts you are working for. You will also need to have a wide general knowledge, similar to an education you gain from two years or more of a general education at a college or university. 

You will need to be able to interpret in three different ways as a court interpreter. First, you need to be able to interpret or translate by sight. This means you should be able to read a document written in the source language, or second language, while you simultaneously interpret it into English. 

Next, you need to interpret consecutively, which is to interpret what a source language speaker is saying after they have finished speaking. During consecutive interpreting, you would usually sit or stand beside the person speaking the source language, as you listen to, take notes on, and interpret what the source language speaker is saying. 

Simultaneous interpreting is the last type of interpreting you will need to be able to do and can be the most difficult as it is a highly specialized type of translation. Simultaneous interpretation requires you to listen to the source language speaker and translate with a lag time of only a few seconds, following their same rate of speech.

Before choosing a job as a state interpreter for the courts, it is important to know about these three items. For more information, talk with a professional translation service company, such as Liaison Multilingual Services, Inc.