If you are new to the field of court interpreting, please take time to read the articles on court interpreting found on the NCSC and NAJIT websites (external links). These materials will give you an overview of the job of a court interpreter.
Court interpreting is a profession that demands a high level of knowledge, skills, and abilities. Many people do not realize that being bilingual alone is insufficient to be competent in the field. If you want to perform at the level of a professional court interpreter, you must:
- Possess an educated mastery of both English and a second language
- Possess a wide range of general knowledge
- Possess knowledge of court terminology in both languages
- Be able to perform the three modes of interpreting:
- Simultaneous—rendering an interpretation continuously at the same time someone is speaking from the source language (usually from English) into the language of one of the parties or target language.
- Consecutive—rendering statements made in a source language into statements in the target language intermittently after a pause between each completed statement in the source language.
- Sight translation—reading a document written in one language while converting it orally into another language, such as presentence reports, letters to judges, court forms, etc.
- Deliver interpreting services in a manner faithful to the code of ethics for court interpreters
- Understand and adhere to the rules and protocol of the court
Many interpreter candidates who are just starting out do not have all of these qualifications when they first embark on the profession of court interpreting. You can improve your skills over time through observation, study and practice.