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Supreme Court Seal
South Carolina
Judicial Branch

South Carolina Interpreter Certification Program

The court interpreter is a specially trained professional who possesses a variety of skills that distinguish him or her from bilingual persons who simply speak two languages. The interpreter plays a vital role in facilitating communication within the judicial system for the non-English speaker and ensures due process by putting the non-English speaker on the same footing as the person who understands English. It is much more than being bilingual. Court interpreters must be able to do sight translation, simultaneous and consecutive interpreting. Summarizing, paraphrasing, changing or omitting is not acceptable.

Certification is a three-phase process and includes participation in a two-day Orientation, successfully passing the written exam (80% or greater), and passing an oral certification exam (70% or greater on each of the components).

Written Test:  This three-hour test includes general English proficiency, legal terminology and professional ethics. Candidates must receive 80 percent or greater on this written test to achieve a passing grade. This phase of the program should be taken first in order to assess your English proficiency and ability to interpret in a court setting.

Two-Day Orientation.  Topics include Rules of Professional Conduct for Court Interpreters, court interpreting modes and skills, justice system structure and procedure, legal terminology, and self-study aids and techniques to improve one's skills. This is a mandatory workshop that must be attended in addition to the Written and Oral Tests.

Oral Proficiency Test.  This test simulates what a court interpreter will be expected to do in court. It has three parts: sight translation of documents from English to the target language and to English from the source language; consecutive interpretation of testimony in both the target and source languages; and simultaneous interpreting of English into the target language. A candidate must score at least 70 percent on each portion of the test to receive certification.