Court Interpreters and Translators


Employment Prospects


Interpreters and translators are employed by federal, state, and local court systems; private attorneys; prosecutor offices; jails; juvenile facilities; law enforcement facilities; and other private firms and government agencies that are involved in the criminal justice and/or legal system. 

Starting Out

There are many ways to break into the field. Job leads can be obtained through contacts made during college internships, information interviews, or career fairs; through direct application to companies and government agencies that employ court interpreters and translators; and, once appropriate testing and certification have been completed, by being included on "available for hire" lists of interpreters or translators that are maintained by court systems and other employers. 

Professional associations are good resources for career support. Members of the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators receive a listing in the organization's online directory, access to its job board and networking opportunities, and other resources. Membership categories are available for college students and working professionals. 

Advancement Prospects

While there will be increased work opportunities for court interpreters and translators, advancement in this field is limited to an increased number or more complex assignments, with some full time or supervisory positions being established in larger court systems, mostly in urban areas. There are many opportunities for interpreters and translators outside the legal system. 

Tips for Entry

Contact your local or state court to familiarize yourself with state requirements for testing, certification, and assignments.

Join interpreter and translator organizations to take advantage of job-search resources and networking opportunities.

Get appropriate training or education. If necessary in your jurisdiction, become formally qualified or certified to be eligible to work as an interpreter or translator in the court system.

No matter what your experience is, continue to do mock interpreting scenarios with friends or colleagues. Videotape or otherwise record your efforts. Observe yourself, and ask others to critique your work to assure that your tone and content are consistent with the speaker's.

Travel abroad to refine and maintain your skills and competence in your foreign language by immersion and intensive usage.