Supreme Court Seal
Supreme Court Seal
South Carolina
Judicial Branch

WHAT IS COURT INTERPRETING?

Anyone interested in becoming a court interpreter should first consult the Occupational Outlook Handbook website to get an understanding of what the occupation entails:  https://www.bls.gov/ooh/media-and-communication/interpreters-and-translators.htm

If you are interested in what opportunities exist and the need for certified interpreters in state courts, you should review the information provided by the National Center for State Courts:  https://www.ncsc.org/education-and-careers/state-interpreter-certification.aspx


HOW DO I BECOME A COURT INTERPRETER IN SOUTH CAROLINA?

South Carolina Court 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 requires successful completion of a three-phase process, which includes participation in a two-day Workshop,  successfully passing the written exam (80% or greater), and passing an oral certification exam (70% or greater on each of the components).  To be deemed otherwise qualified, the candidate must successfully complete the Written Exam and attend the Two-Day Workshop.  

Phase I:  Written Exam.  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 must be completed first in order to assess your English proficiency and ability to interpret in a court setting.

Phase II:   Two-Day Workshop.  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.

Phase III:   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.

South Carolina Court Interpreter Directory

South Carolina Court Administration is required to maintain a Directory of certified or otherwise qualified interpreters for use by the clerks of court when deaf or non-English speaking individuals are parties to legal proceedings, witnesses, or jurors. The names and contact information of the certified or otherwise qualified interpreters are compiled into a directory and provided to the courts.  Court personnel are then able to schedule interpreters as the need arises. The courts in South Carolina do not employ any staff interpreters at this time. Only interpreters who are in our Directory may be utilized in our courts. Therefore, if you would like to be in our Directory, please enroll in the .C. Court Interpreter Certification Program.  Provide your email address and contact information to our email address, and you will be notified as the Phases of the S.C. Interpreter Certification Program are scheduled. We will provide a link for you to register and attend. At each Phase we will provide a Directory Consent Form for listing eligible individuals in the Interpreter Directory.

If you still have questions regarding interpreting in South Carolina courts, send them to our email address, SCCICP@sccourts.org.