The Language Services Section (LSS) plays a vital role in ensuring equal justice for people with limited English proficiency (LEP) or who are deaf or hard of hearing. Program Manager Brenda Carrasquillo and staff can be reached at Langsvcs.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you need interpreting services? See our requesting an interpreter help page.
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Becoming a NJ Court Interpreter
Discover how to become a spoken or Sign Language New Jersey court interpreter.
Becoming a court-approved spoken language interpreter is a 3-step process. You need to demonstrate proficiency in your chosen language(s). You also need to follow the interpreter Code of Conduct.
Step 1 – Prepare
See all interpreting policies and guidelines.
Study the available resources below. Gain an understanding of what is required to succeed.
- Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities. This breaks down the key skills that are required.
- The National Center for State Courts (NCSC) provides a self-assessment and study tools to prepare for required exams.
- Review the Policies and Procedures for court interpreting.
- Keys to Success provides an overview of important things to know for the oral exam.
- Review the Interpreter Professional Development resources.
- Directory of Contacts
- The Role of the Court Interpreter brochure
Step 2 – Qualify
The approval program consists of a written exam, an orientation seminar, and oral exam. If you were certified in another state, review the Reciprocity Policy. If you passed the Federal exam, you would qualify at the Master level.
- Pass the written exam. The overview of the written exam covers exam dates, FAQs, and includes the application to take the exam. It also includes sample questions to give you an idea of what is on the test.
- Attend the Orientation Seminar. Review overview of the orientation seminar for available dates and what to expect.
- Pass the Oral Exam. Start with reading the oral exam overview in its entirety, which includes the exam application. You can review the current list of NCSC oral exams currently offered at NCSC's website.
- For Arabic interpreters, please review the Arabic interpreting guide.
- Review the common oral exam deficiencies to help you prepare.
- If there is no oral exam available for your language, or if your language consists of an abbreviated oral exam, you need to take the English and/or Target Language Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI). You might also need:
Step 3 – Register
After approval, you can register with Judiciary. To be added to the Registry of Interpreting Resources, you need to:
- Register as an independent contractor with the N.J. Division of Revenue either on-line or by mailing in the Independent Contractor form.
- Register with NJSTART. This allows you to work as a vendor with State of New Jersey. You also need to submit a completed Registration Form.
- After LSS verifies your registration, you will receive a Professional Service Statement of Work Proposal (Freelancer PSSW). The PSSW is a contractual agreement, that also addresses compensation and cancellation.
Potential sign language interpreters need to:
- Get certified by the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID).
- Get added to list of interpreters on N.J Division of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, or the New Jersey Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (NJRID).
- Attend the orientation seminar (unless approved for a waiver.)
- Register with the Judiciary (Step 3 above).
Video remote interpreting (VRI) resources
Some court cases are conducted online in video remote court. The Covid-19 pandemic rapidly expanded remote court events. Likewise, the Judiciary produced more video remote interpreting (VRI) resources.
All spoken and sign language interpreters can find additional VRI support at the National Center for State Courts.
Spoken Language VRI
Use the Registry of VRI Agencies for Spoken Languages when looking for those services.
Review the tips for court interpreters resource. This document contains information to help you get started or improve with VRI.
The spoken language webinar breaks down VRI resources, tools, and what’s necessary to succeed. The video is a recording of a live training session. It includes relevant Q&A from the audience.
There are two brief training videos available:
Please review the sign language VRI webinar. Presently entirely in ASL, the video address VRI technology, best practices and more.
All VRI sign language interpreters should save a copy of the checklist. This tool helps you ensure you are ready for VRI.
Many VRI cases are conducted in Zoom. Use the procedure for sign language VRI in Zoom if you need help.
Registry of Interpreting Resources
LSS maintains registries of all court interpreter freelancers and agencies. LSS regularly updates and publishes the registries. This helps ensure courts always have access to accurate vendor lists.
Court managers should use the following registries:
- Overview of the Registry. Provides detailed information on how to navigate the following documents.
- Registry of Interpreting Resources. Listing of freelance interpreters and interpreting agencies available by language. Each contact card includes the name of the interpreter/agency along with contact info.
- Registry of Telephone Interpreting Agencies. Listing of agencies available to provide telephone interpreting.
- Registry of Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) Agencies for Spoken Languages. Listing of agencies available to provide VRI for Spoken Languages.
- Registry of Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) Agencies for Sign Languages. Listing of agencies available to provide VRI for Sign Languages.
Registering as an Agency
Agencies may be included in the Registry of Interpreting Resources to provide contract-interpreting services to the Judiciary. The Judiciary's policy is that interpreting services may be obtained from registered agencies only when the needed services are not available from staff court interpreters or contract interpreters listed in the Registry of Interpreting Resources. For an agency to become registered, it much complete the following steps:
1. Register with the Judiciary.
An official representative of the agency must study carefully the Agency Professional Service Statement of Work (Agency PSSW) proposal and complete and email the following to the LangSvcs.Mailbox@njcourts.gov:
- The Agency Registration form.
- Six language options under which the agency will be listed in the Registry, using the nomenclature found in the Language Identification Guide. Agencies that provide interpreters in more than six languages may choose “Any Language” as one of their six language options. Agencies that select this option are listed at the back of the Registry, as well as being listed under the other five chosen language options. * Should an agency choose ASL as one of their six language options, please note that both legislation and Judiciary policy require sign language interpreters to be certified by the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) and listed with the New Jersey Division of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. See N.J.S.A. 34:1-69.
- Agree in writing to abide by the Agency PSSW by signing and emailing the completed first page of the Agency PSSW proposal. Electronic signatures will be accepted.
Note: If the owner of an agency is, or hopes to become, a registered freelance interpreter; the agency tax identification number (TIN) must be different from the TIN number used to registered as a freelancer.
3. Attend the Orientation Seminar.
At least one official representative who is the highest-level employee must complete this seminar. That representative is ordinarily one of the following: the owner, chief executive officer, or a high-level manager. See the Overview for the Orientation Seminar for seminar dates.
4. Submit Additional Information for Remote Interpreting Services.
The official representative of the agency must also submit additional information requested in the appropriate link below to be included in the Registry of Telephone Interpreting Agencies, the Registry of VRI Agencies for Sign Languages, and/or the Registry of VRI Agencies for Spoken Languages:
- Registering as a Telephone Agency
- Registering as a Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) Agency for Spoken Languages
- Registering as a Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) Agency for Sign Languages
Changing Agency Info
Approved agencies can email for the following changes:
- Telephone numbers.
- Cell numbers.
- Email address(es).
Changes to the agency name, tax ID, or mailing address must first go to NJ Division of Revenue and NJSTART. Agencies must also email LSS to notify them of the changes. Once LSS confirms them with Division of Revenue, the changes will take effect in the registry.
Resources for Interpreters
The National Center for State Courts (NCSC) has a Language Access Services Section (LASS) and website that includes a Resource Guide for Court Interpreters. NCSC resources and additional resources below help interpreters:
- Improve proficiency and level of interpreting ability.
- Gain more interpreting opportunities.
- Increase compensation level.
NCSC Resource Guides
The Resource Guide for Court Interpreters is geared towards all court interpreters, regardless of language. It contains:
- An overview of interpreting.
- Test taking strategies.
- Practice exam kits and sample tests.
- Practice sites for idioms.
- Professional organizations.
NCSC Resource Guides
Spanish court interpreters can find additional resources in the Spanish Resource guide.
Interpreters for all other languages can find additional resources in the Non-Spanish Resource Guide.
Wisconsin Courts provides A Handbook for Court Interpreters Working in Teams.
Glossaries and Translation Guides
While interpreters are fluent in their given language(s), legal terms and phrases could present a challenge. The following glossaries help translate specific legal terms you will need to know in court.
The Superior Court of California provides detailed glossaries in various language. It is also good to know American idioms sometimes used in court. There might not be a direct translation for certain expressions. Knowing the definition of the expression will help translate the message accurately.
- English-Spanish Legal Term Glossary (NJ Courts)
- Glossary of Legal Terminology – English to Spanish (Connecticut Superior Court)
- Glosario de Términos y de Conceptos Jurídicos o Relativos al Poder Judicia
- English-Haitian Creole Legal Terms (NJ Courts)
- English-Korean (NJ Courts)
- English-Polish (NJ Courts)
- English-Portuguese (NJ Courts)
- Multi-Lingual Glossary (Vancouver Community College)
Interpreter Training Courses
The New Mexico judiciary provides a Language Access Learning Management System. It contains courses such as Intro to Court Interpreting, Ethics and Best Practices, and Justice System Interpreting. The program is in partnership with the NCSC.
Florida International University offers a certificate program in Legal Translation and Court Interpreting. There is also a certificate program for Translation Studies. Courses comprising the programs are listed on the website.
Practices Exercises and Exams
The Federal Court Interpreter Certification Exam could also be a resource for development.
For practice at simultaneous interpreting:
Professional associations offer opportunities to network with others in your field. They are also good resources for latest developments. Some associations to consider:
- National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators (NAJIT). This association provides resources and information for interpreters and translators in the courts.
- The American Association of Language Specialists (TAAL). An international association for freelance interpreters.
- American Translators Association. The association represents interpreters and translators. There are several membership options.
- Conference of Interpreter Trainers. They produced quarterly industry newsletters and conferences on interpreting services.
- Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID). Sign language court interpreters in NJ need to be certified with RID.
- Ethnologue – Languages of the World. This organization provides information on any language.
- The federal Limited English Proficiency (LEP) Department seeks to protect people who are not proficient in English. As a government website, it is focused on LEP rights and language access in government services.
- National Association of the Deaf. The association advances rights and access for deaf and hard of hearing people.
The following statistical reports help inform and improve the Judiciary’s Language Access Plan.
Demographic Statistics for Persons with Limited English Proficiency
- 2017-2021 Census, Alphabetical Language List for NJ
- 2016-2019 Census, Alphabetical Language List for NJ
- 2010 Census, Alphabetical Language List for NJ
- 2000 Census, Alphabetical Language List for NJ
- 2016-2019 Census, Ranked Language List for NJ
- 2010 Census, Ranked Language List for NJ
- 2000 Census, Ranked Language List for NJ
- Estimates of Current Hispanic/Latino Population in New Jersey (state total plus each county)
- 2012 English-Speaking Ability of the Foreign-Born Population in the United States
- 2011 Language Use in the United States
- 2000 Census, Language Use and English-Speaking Ability
- The Modern Language Association Language Map
All data was collected from the 2000 and 2010 Census, the American Census Survey 2009-2013, and the American Community Survey 2016-2019.
- 2017 to Present – Court Interpreter Written Exam Statistics
- 2005 to 2016 – Court Interpreter Written Exam Statistics
Current Stats (2017 to Present)
Historical Stats (1987 to 2016)
- Oral Exam outcomes for all languages tested
- Comparative Scores on Oral Exam Sections for all languages tested
- Additional Data on Test Parts for most languages tested
- Scores on the Consecutive Section of the Spanish Exam by length of utterances interpreted
- Comparative Scores on the Three Major Test Sections for Spanish candidates