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Language Interpreter - Getting Certified | State of Illinois Office of the Illinois Courts

How to Get Certified

STEP ONE: PREPARE

To assist the Illinois circuit courts with providing qualified interpreters, the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts (AOIC) administers a statewide certification program for persons with native-like mastery of English and a second language. Certification requires attendance at an orientation and passing written and oral exams. For a detailed overview of the AOIC Language Access Program and the policies and procedures in place for the training and certification of interpreters, please review the Language Access Program Manual.

AOIC Language Access Program Manual

2021 Certification program dates:

2021 REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN

To register, visit  http://illinoiscourts.gov/courtapps and select “Language Interpreter Registration.” Please click here for step by step instructions on how to register online. The AOIC only accepts online payment for certification events.

View the 2021 orientation and testing dates

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Court Interpreter Orientation and Testing Announcement - 2021

ORIENTATION

To be placed on the AOIC Court Interpreter Registry, candidates must first attend a two-day orientation. The two-day orientation is open to any person at least 18 years of age with a native-like mastery of English and a second language. This orientation covers the interpreter’s role and professional ethics, the modes of interpreting used in court, legal terminology and court protocol. Candidates are expected to continue self-study before taking the written and oral exams.  View a sample orientation agenda.

Sign language and deaf interpreters are only required to attend orientation and will not be tested by the AOIC. Candidates must submit proof of Advanced or Master's level licensure with the IDHHC to attend orientation.

OPTIONAL SKILL BUILDING

The AOIC offers optional skill building courses for those that have passed the written exam and are preparing for the oral exam or would like to improve their score. The dates and locations are TBD.

To assess whether court interpreting is right for you, review the  NCSC Self-Assessment Tool.

For resources, study materials, legal glossaries, and information on local and online training programs, visit our  Resources section.

STEP TWO: PASS

After completing the orientation, candidates may register to take the NCSC written exam. The 3-hour test covers English proficiency, legal terms, court protocol and ethical situations. Candidates must pass with a score of 80% or higher to be eligible to take an oral exam or oral proficiency interview.

Candidates who have passed the written test may take the NCSC oral exam testing their skills in sight translation, consecutive, and simultaneous interpreting. The exam is offered in 22 languages. Candidates must pass with 70% or higher to be listed on the AOIC Court Interpreter Registry as "Certified." Candidates must pass with a 60% or higher to be listed as "Registered." Full oral exams are currently available in Cantonese, French, Haitian Creole, Hmong, Ilocano, Khmer, Korean, Lao, Mandarin, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Tagalog and Vietnamese. Abbreviated exams are available in Arabic (Modern Standard) and Bosnian-Serbian-Croatian, Marshallese and Turkish.

If you speak a language that is not offered by the NCSC oral exam, you may be able to take an oral proficiency interview (OPI), if available in your language. You must receive the highest score to be listed as "Qualified." The company that administers the OPIs is called ALTA. To see the list of languages available for an OPI, please click here.

To register, visit  http://illinoiscourts.gov/courtapps and select “Language Interpreter Registration.” Please click here for step by step instructions on how to register online. The AOIC only accepts online payment for certification events.

Due to recent demand we have not scheduled events in Springfield this year, but the AOIC can make arrangements in Springfield for an orientation or for written and oral exams if there is sufficient demand.

Please note that there are no more orientations scheduled for 2019 in Illinois. Our next scheduled orientation will be next March 2020, date TBD. You are welcome to attend an orientation at another state and receive credit for your attendance with our program. Please contact the program administrator in the state of your choice to find out additional details.

WRITTEN EXAM DATES

FEE: $50
Chicago, IL
March 26, 2021 9 a.m. or 12 p.m.
Location AOIC Chicago Office
Registration deadline: March 22, 2021

Chicago, IL
June 7, 2021 9 a.m. or 12 p.m.
Location AOIC Chicago Office
Registration deadline: May, 31, 2021

Registration for 2021 is now open, please click here to view the dates, fees and registration deadlines, and go to courtapps.illinoiscourts.gov to register.

If you would like to test in Springfield, please contact the Noor Alawawda at  nalawawda@illinoiscourts.gov. Additional dates may be scheduled as needed.

More information about the NCSC written exam.

ORAL EXAM DATES

FEE: $225 for all languages
LOCATION: All exams will take place at the AOIC Chicago Office, 222 N. LaSalle St., 13th floor, Chicago, IL. Exams can be scheduled in Springfield upon request.

DATE:
June 18, 2021
September 17, 2021

REGISTRATION DEADLINE:
June 1, 2021
September 1, 2021

Please email Noor Alawawda at  nalawawda@illinoiscourts.gov to be added to the waiting list.

Registration for 2021 is now open, please  click here to view the dates, fees and registration deadlines, and go to courtapps.illinoiscourts.gov to register.

Additional dates may be scheduled as needed.

More information about the NCSC written exam

Information about the standards used to rate and score the oral exams

Oral exam test agreement

ORAL PROFICIENCY INTERVIEW (OPI) DATES

FEE: $120 for all languages

LOCATION: All exams take place over the phone. You will call a number provided by ALTA at a prescheduled date and time. You can use your personal cell phone or land line telephone for taking the exam.

DATE: OPI exams are scheduled individually. Please contact  nalawawada@illinoiscourts.gov to schedule the exam at your convenience. You must contact the AOIC two weeks in advance of your desired date and time.

More information about the OPI exam

 

STEP THREE: ENROLL

After passing the relevant exams, candidates will receive an application packet to become certified, qualified or registered with the Supreme Court of Illinois. Certified, qualified and registered foreign language interpreters and eligible sign language interpreters will be included on a statewide registry that is made available to all circuit courts in Illinois. Interpreter assignments are arranged at the county level by the court administrator or other court personnel on an as-needed basis.

Reciprocity requirements:

Foreign language interpreters that have completed portions of the foreign language certification process for other state courts, the federal courts, or have passed the NAJIT exam may be eligible for reciprocity. If you are eligible, please fill out the  Application form for reciprocity. Please email, fax or mail the application and any supporting documentation as an email attachment to Noor Alawawda, AOIC Program Coordinator, Language Access, at nalawawda@illinoiscourts.gov or 312-793-0740 (fax). We will continue to accept reciprocity applications on a rolling basis.