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Language Access Certification Program

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Required Interpreter Skills and Education

Professional court interpreters should possess educated, native-like mastery of both English and a second language, display wide general knowledge characteristic of what a minimum of two years of general education at a college or university would provide, and perform the three major types of court interpreting: 1) sight translation, 2) consecutive interpreting, and 3) simultaneous interpreting.  See details >>.

Testing and Certification 

The State Court Administrative Office offers certification testing to persons interested in becoming a non-English-language court interpreter.  An overview of the written examination is available for candidatesSCAO does not hire interpreters, but does test and certify individuals to interpret for Michigan's trial courts. Persons who pass the certification exam, will be issued a certification card and have his or her name added to the official list of certified interpreters.  Currently, depending upon interest, tests can be offered in these languages:
​Haitian Creole
For information about reciprocity of federal court interpreter certification or certification from another state, contact the Language Access Certification Program.

Examination Schedule

Want to take the written exam?  Click here. Registration forms must be postmarked by June 20, 2015, and will not be accepted electronically.  Fax the completed form to 517-373-0974 or it to SCAO, ATTN:  Sheryl Doud, P.O. Box 30048, Lansing, MI 48909. 
The State Court Administrative Office reserves the right to cancel or reschedule tests.
​Exam ​Dates
​Written English
March 24, 2015
July 28, 2015
​Spanish Oral Proficiency
June 16 and 17, 2015
October 15 and 16, 2015
​Languages Other than Spanish (LOTS)
Oral Proficiency
​October 19 and 20, 2015

Description of Test

The test is designed and developed by a team of experts from several parts of the country who have extensive knowledge of court proceedings, the job requirements for court interpreters, and/or advanced training or high levels of fluency in English and other languages. These experts may include federally certified court interpreters, judges, lawyers, scholars, and/or legal professionals.

The test measures knowledge and fluency in both languages and the ability to successfully render meaning from source to target language in each of the three modes of interpreting that are required of a court interpreter:
    • Sight Translation of Documents
    • Consecutive Interpreting
    • Simultaneous Interpreting
During the sight translation portion, the examinee reads aloud a document in the second language for which the test is being taken (target language). When that reading is completed, the examinee is given the document in English and asked to read it in the target language.
During the consecutive interpreting mode, the examinee interprets English language questions into the second language for which the test is being taken (target language) and target language answers into English. A test proctor administers the consecutive interpreting portion by playing the recorded courtroom simulation on a CD player. The examinee listens to sentences, the CD is paused, and the interpreter then interprets from memory. 
During the simultaneous interpreting mode, the examinee, wearing headphones, listens to a prerecorded English passage and, while listening, interprets aloud into the nonEnglish language.
The entire court interpreter certification test takes approximately one hour. Test tapes are scored by a team of two certified interpreters who have been trained by the National Center for State Courts for rating the certification tests. Candidates must score at least 70 percent on each part of the test in order to pass. Efforts are made to report scores to the candidates within 60 days.

Annual Registration

MCR 8.127 requires annual registration of all interpreters and interpreter firms.  The initial registration fee is $60, paid prior to October 1 of the initiating year.  A fee paid October 1 through December 31 is considered late and is subject to a $100 late fee.  Any registration fee paid after December 31 requires the approval of the Foreign Language Board of Review and payment of the late fee.

Registration renewals are required annually after the first year at a cost of $30 per year.  The same deadlines, late fees, and Board approvals apply.  Click the links for the Interpreter Registration form, Consent for Release of Personal Information form, or the Firm Registration form.
Please make your check or money order payable to State of Michigan and mail it to SCAO, ATTN:  Sheryl Doud, P.O. Box 30048, Lansing, MI 48909.

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​Staff Contact

Email: languageaccess@

(517) 373-6670


SCAO Staff Directory

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Version: 46.0
Created at 6/26/2012 2:08 PM by COURT\MarksD
Last modified at 6/3/2015 9:26 AM by COURT\MarksD