Become an Interpreter
In Tennessee, there are three kinds of interpreters that help the judges and the people who come to court:
- Certified – This is an interpreter that has completed all classes and has passed all the tests.
- Registered – This is an interpreter that has not completed the last final test.
- Non-Credentialed – This is an interpreter that has not finished everything that needs to be done to become a registered interpreter or has not even started the process to become a credentialed interpreter.
If you think you are interested in becoming a court interpreter, the assessment found at this link can help you decide if you have the skills needed to be a court interpreter before you start the testing process: Self Assessment Questions
There are several steps that you must take to become an interpreter. We have developed a flow chart that outlines the process. The steps are also listed below and you must take the steps in the order listed:
- Go to a two-day class to teach you what interpreters can and should do.
- Pass a written test that is in English.
- Pass an oral proficiency interview. (This is called an “OPI” . You will call a phone number and talk with someone in English and in the foreign language to see if you can perfectly speak both languages)
- Pass a criminal background check. (You cannot have been found guilty of a crime that was a felony. You cannot have been found guilty of a crime that was a misdemeanor that involved lying or dishonesty. If the felony or misdemeanor was more than 10 years ago, you may be able to be an interpreter.)
- Must be able to work or remain in the U.S. and you have to show paperwork that shows this.
- Sign interpreter oath.
- The last thing is to pass an oral examination where you speak English and the foreign language like it was an actual case in the courtroom.
About the Court Interpreter Program
Court interpretation is a specialized and highly-demanding form of interpreting. It requires skills that few bilingual individuals, including language instructors, possess. To gain access to other professionals in the field, the Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts (“AOC”) became a member of the Consortium for State Court Interpreter Certification (“Consortium”), a group under the auspices of the National Center for State Courts. Tennessee Supreme Court Rules 41 and 42, which govern the credentialing, appointment, and ethics of Tennessee’s interpreters, were based on model policies provided through the Consortium, but were modified to meet Tennessee’s needs. The Tennessee Supreme Court adopted these rules on April 25, 2002, and amended them on April 27, 2005.
These tests are administered throughout the state at various times throughout the year. Please review the testing schedule below for more information about when the tests will be offered.