Steps on Becoming an Interpreter


ImageSo you want to be a licensed court interpreter…here are the steps you must follow:


Step 1:
The first step to becoming an interpreter is to register for one of the Commission's 2-day orientation workshops, which are held four times a year in different areas in Georgia. In the two day orientation, participants will learn what it means to be a court interpreter and have the opportunity to ask questions. The current orientation training and workshop schedule can be found on our main page. Individuals can apply and pay online with a credit card or mail in an application with a check or money order.

 Step 2:

Once you decide you want to be a court interpreter, the next step is to take and pass the English written exam. The English written exam is included in the cost of the two day orientation and may be taken the day after orientation is completed. The written exam is comprised of 135 questions on general language proficiency, court related terms and issues, and ethics and professional conduct. Candidates are given two (2) hours and fifteen (15) minutes to complete the test. A score of 80% or higher is considered passing. Scores are mailed to participants within 4-6 weeks of taking the exam. An overview of the English written exam is posted under the 'Interpreter Resources' tab, located at the top of the main webpage.
Step 3:
Prospective interpreters must obtain a sufficient number of court observation hours. Three (3) hours of court observation is required if a certified interpreter is present during the proceeding and six hours (6) of observation is required if a certified interpreter is not present. The observation must be logged onto the Court Observation Form provided by the Commission, then mailed to the Commission office prior to registration for the oral certification exam (OCE) or oral proficiency interviews (OPI).
Step 4:
After the written test is passed, candidates should determine if the language has a certification test offered by the National Center for State Courts. As of 01-01-2009 the following languages have certification tests through NCSC: Arabic, Cantonese, French, Haitian Creole, Hmong, Korean, Laotian, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Serbian, Somali, and Vietnamese. If a candidate wishes to interpret in a language listed above they must apply to take the oral certification exam. This exam is offered in Atlanta a minimum of two times per year. The exam takes about an hour and is divided into three parts: Sight translation, Consecutive interpreting, and Simultaneous interpreting. Candidates must pass each portion of the test with a 70% or higher score in the same sitting. Participants will receive their scores, through the mailed, within 6-8 weeks of the exam date.

Candidates wishing to interpret in a language that is not listed above, must register to take two (2) oral proficiency interviews: One in English and one in the language for which you want to interpret. This test is conducted through a vendor, Language Testing Institute. The test is a telephone interview that will take place at the Administrative Office of the Courts in Atlanta, Georgia. Candidates must pass each exam by earning a language scale score of “Superior” in both English and the language for which one wants to interpret. For more information on the oral proficiency interview (OPI), please log on to Please contact the Commission office to determine if you are eligible for this test prior to scheduling and paying for the OPIs.
Step 5:
Upon receiving passing scores on the oral certification examination or oral proficiency interviews, candidates must apply for a license to become a certified, conditionally approved or registered interpreter. This requires submitting a license application, fee, and criminal history authorization form. Once our office receives this information, a background check will be conducted within 30 days, and applicants will be informed of their status.
Step 6:
Candidates must demonstrate good moral character by satisfying the Commission’s fitness requirement. To determine if a candidate is fit to become a licensed interpreter, background investigations are evaluated against the fitness guidelines below.
An applicant has good moral character if one has not committed or been convicted of:
a)      Felony or misdemeanor crimes involving false statements, fraud or dishonesty; or
b)      Crimes punishable by one year of more; unless it has been more than ten years from confinement or conviction; and
c)      Crimes involving moral turpitude; unless it has been more than ten years from confinement or conviction.
All candidates must pass a criminal background history check. If it is determined that good character does not exist the Commission shall have the authority to: deny a license or certification; suspend or revoke a license or certification; or to impose discipline. 
Step 7:

Candidates who successfully pass the certification and licensing requirements will be issued a certificate and license, and placed on our Court Interpreter Registry. Licenses must be renewed annually.

To view scheduled activities, including orientations and testing dates and times, please review the Calendar of Events posted on our homepage.

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Georgia Commission on Interpreters
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