How to get certified

The certification process for candidates who would like to interpret in Wisconsin courts includes a series of steps that must be completed in order. For detailed information on each requirement follow the links below.

  • 1
    Two-day orientation
  • 2
    Written examination
  • 3
    Oral examination
  • 4
    Other requirements

Proposed interpreter certification sequences

The orientations, written tests, and oral tests are scheduled in cycles that allow candidates to complete each step in the certification process in the required order. Each sequence consists of orientation, written exam, and oral exam with sufficient time between each event for candidates to prepare, in particular, for the tests. Candidates are not bound by the sequences and may attend any of the events when and where it's most convenient. Spanish language candidates are required to obtain certification within 2 years from the date they attend orientation while non-Spanish language candidates are required to obtain certification within 5 years from the date they attend orientation otherwise they must retake orientation.

Due to the public health emergency for the State of Wisconsin in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic, the orientation that was scheduled for Madison on September 26-27 will now be offered online. Click here for more information on how to register.

Sequence 1

Date Event Location
Apr 4 - 5 (canceled) Orientation Pewaukee
May 1 (canceled) Written exam Waukesha
Jun 23 & 24 (canceled) Oral exam Madison

Sequence 2

Date Event Location
Jun 6 - 7 (canceled) Orientation Wisconsin Rapids
Jul 10 (canceled) Written exam Wisconsin Rapids
Nov 18 & 19
(limited to 4 1-hour testing slots each day)
Oral exam Madison

Sequence 3

Date Event Location
Sep 19 - 20; 26 - 27 Orientation (Now online) Virtual
Oct 28
(limited to 9 people)
Written exam Madison
Oct 29
(limited to 9 people)
Written exam Madison
Feb/Mar 2021 (tentative) Oral exam Madison

Wisconsin also recognizes interpreter certification conferred upon an individual by other entities such as (The following are external links.):

Please contact the program manager if you think you may qualify for reciprocity.

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:
    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.

For general information on the court interpreting profession in Wisconsin, see "Wisconsin Court Interpreters: Ensuring Justice for All" Adobe PDF.