Communication in a court of law is sometimes more difficult because a defendant, witness, or other party is not able to speak or comprehend the language being used in the courtroom. At times like those, it is necessary to have a court translator. For example, in countries where English is the dominant language, court translators interpret what is being said so that people who do not speak English are able to understand. If you aspire to become a court translator, you generally will need a college degree and specific translation training.
In order to become a court translator, you will need to know the dominant language used in the court as well as a foreign language. If you are in an English-speaking country, that means you will need to know how to speak English and will need to know how to speak another language. Some people, due to being born into a country or family context where bilingualism is the norm, have an advantage, whereas others may have to go to college to learn a second language. It does not matter how you learn; however, you must learn how to speak the dominant language being used in the court and you must learn at least one foreign language if you hope to become a court translator.
Not all colleges offer a major in court translation. For that reason, it is often necessary to get a bachelor's degree not related to translation and then get a minor or certificate in translation. Or, by contrast, if your college does not offer a minor in translation, you may have to get a bachelor's degree in an unrelated subject and then take translation courses after college to get sufficient credentials to begin a career as a court translator.
In your training, you will be learning not only typical grammar but also slang terms for words so as to improve your translation ability. Also, you will learn to interpret simultaneously and consecutively. Simultaneous interpretation occurs when the court translator literally keeps pace with the person who is talking and translates at the same time as the speaker talks. On the other hand, consecutive translation is when the court translator allows the speaker to talk and then does translation after the speaker is finished talking.
When you complete the educational requirements, it can be helpful to get certification to become a court translator. Granted, the particular translation certification you get will depend on where you will be working. For instance, if you choose to work in the United States, there is a federal certification program for languages such as Haitian Creole, Navajo, and Spanish. Also, the American Translators Association (ATA) has its own certification process.
After you become a court translator, you will be able to work as a translator in every type of case at every level of the legal system. This means the case you work in may be a small case, large case, criminal case, or civil case. Or, your work as a court translator could involve doing translation in meetings between attorneys and clients, in interviews, or in any kind of law-related situation. It is a stressful job because you must keep pace with what is being said at all times; however it is an essential job in the legal system.