Future Interpreters

The DE LA MORA online school focuses on the training and continued education of two types of interpreters: Court Interpreters and Medical Interpreters. 

If you are bilingual, this incredible career is already at your fingertips – no Bachelor’s or Master’s degree required! You only need to pass a court interpreter exam for your state, or a national medical interpreter exam, depending on your desired field. That being said, oral interpretation exams are not easy to pass, with an average of only 15% of test takers passing their first attempt without previous training.

Professional interpretation requires training, even for those who have interpreted before. There are higher stakes involved in the legal and medical environments, where life and liberty are on the line. Interpreters in these fields must be dedicated to accuracy and continue developing their skills throughout their career, continuously updating their knowledge of terminology, culture, colloquialisms, and interpretation techniques. A professional interpreter interprets meaning, rather than individual words, and uses context to decide whether a word like “tip” refers to money, an action, or giving information.

What does it take?

  • Extensive knowledge of field-specific terminology and systems
  • The ability to interpret in multiple registers, from street slang to legal/medical jargon
  • Good public speaking and communication skills
  • Mental fortitude to deal with traumatic or shocking subject matter in both legal and medical settings
  • The ability to keep a professional demeanor and make complex linguistic and ethical choices under pressure
  • A continuous desire to learn and improve throughout one’s career

There is a large and growing need for interpreters in the U.S. and around the world. The Bureau of Labor Statistics currently projects a 19% growth in employment through 2028 – much faster than the projected growth of most occupations. The median salary in 2019 was $51,830, and individuals with higher levels of certification frequently earn more than the average. Visit the Bureau’s website to learn more.

The requirements to become a certified Medical and Court Interpreter vary by state and certifying organization. Links to specific requirements for each field are below.

For court interpretation, most states divide their certification process into three stages:

  • Orientation
  • Written English proficiency exam
  • Oral interpretation exam (Only 15% success rate for first-time takers)

Our courses are designed to increase your chances of passing the oral exam on the first attempt. We help you develop your interpretation skills and become familiar with the terminology, systems, and ethics involved in each field. Students must be 18 years of age or older and have a high school diploma. Although not required, we recommend that students take any orientation classes for their state and pass the written English exam before registering. English exam prep can be found under “Self-Paced Courses” below.

Court interpreter requirements by state:

Medical interpreter requirements:


What does an interpreter do?

How do I become a legal interpreter?

How do I become a medical interpreter?

How much does an interpreter make?

  • Interpreter salaries vary based on the type and degree of certification. For instance, certified interpreters generally make more than non-certified interpreters. Within the legal field, interpreters with federal certification can generally earn more than those with only state certification. Location can affect these numbers as well.
  • According to indeed.com, interpreters and translators in general make an average of $20.95 per hour, or about $43,000 per year. However, the average for court interpreters is $58,827 per year. Certified federal interpreters working on a contract basis, according to Chron.com, can make $418 per day or $226 for half days, with an overtime rate of $59 per hour. Court interpreters can search for the rates offered by each state on the NCSC’s website. Reported pay for certified medical interpreters on Payscale.com ranges from a low of $12.80 to a high of $41.22 per hour, with a median of $20.99.

How difficult is the certification exam for legal and medical interpreters? How many people pass?

  • In its 2016 annual report, the National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters (NBCMI) reported oral exam passing rates at 41% for Spanish interpreters, 23% for Mandarin, 3% for Vietnamese, 22% for Korean, 46% for Cantonese, and 58% for Russian. Medical interpreters are required to have 40 hours of training prior to taking the exam.
  • The state court interpreter exam has a notoriously low passing rate for first-time test takers due to the lack of training prerequisites. Not all states publish their testing results, but the passing rate for first-time test takers without prior training is estimated to be only 15%.
  • Education makes all the difference!

What career opportunities exist for interpreters?

Interpreters are needed wherever there are language barriers! Whether you would like to be a freelancer or salaried employee, work on-site or from home, or interpret for a specialization of your choice, the field of interpretation has a place for you. You may find yourself interpreter in state or federal court, in doctor’s offices and hospitals, for private companies, or in schools. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projected an 18% increase in the demand for interpreters between 2016 and 2026 – much faster than average – and listed the median salary for 2018 at $49,930 per year.

What do I have to do to become a court interpreter in my state?

The requirements vary by state, but most require three steps:

  1. Attend an orientation. These are usually 2 to 3 days long, and give a basic overview of court interpretation, as well as the requirements for certification.
  2. Take a written English exam. This exam will test candidate’s English grammar and vocabulary, as well as knowledge of legal terminology and the court system.
  3. Take an oral interpretation exam. This exam is the most difficult part of the process, and will test the candidate’s skills in sight translation, consecutive interpretation, and simultaneous interpretation.

To find out what your specific state requires, check out the Court Interpreter Requirements by State.

Does DE LA MORA Institute of Interpretation certify me?

Our role is to educate and train highly skilled interpreters, but the actual certification does not come from us. State court interpreters are certified by their respective state governments; federal interpreters are certified by the federal government; and medical interpreters are certified either by the National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters (NBCMI) or the Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters (CCHI).

What can I expect from DE LA MORA Institute’s courses?

You can expect all of our courses to be taught by highly qualified professionals. All of our live online courses are offered in a webinar format that allows for real-time interaction between instructor and students to create a more personal experience. Live classes, with a few exceptions, begin at 8:00 pm EST to better fit around regular work and school schedules. Students are able to view all resources and review previous class recordings from an easy-to-use class dashboard.

What course should I take?

Not certified yet?

  • English Written Exam Prep (for all languages)
  • Signature Court Interpreter Program (for Spanish Only)
  • Language-Neutral Signature Court Interpreter Program (for all languages)
  • 40-Hour Signature Medical Interpreter Program (for all languages)

Need legal continuing education credits for your state?

  • Advanced Consecutive and Simultaneous
  • Ethics for Court Interpreters
  • Accent Reduction Class
  • …and more!

Already state court certified, but wanting to take the Federal exam?

  • FCICE Written Prep
  • FCICE Oral Prep

Need to hone a specific skill or get some personalized feedback?

  • Private tutoring may be the answer! Court interpreters can take a mock exam that has been modeled after the real thing, and will be given personalized feedback and suggestions from one of our instructors.

What is the DE LA MORA Membership?

Our membership program offers interpreters an affordable way to improve their skills and learn from experts in the field every month! The membership includes our podcast, newsletter, premium resources, and a new live webinar every month. Interpreters can gain continuing education credits on a regular basis while learning about a variety of topics within the field for only $35 a month.

Learn more