Careers in the Legal Profession – Court Appointed Translator

Court appointed translator is an enviable position. It requires education, superior people skills and a thorough knowledge of at least one foreign language. A court appointed translator is considered a crème de la crème translator, and must everyday remember that their translated words bear a heavy, important responsibility.

They work hand in hand with the judicial system. This person is heavily relied upon for accurate testimonies and provides an invaluable link in revealing the truth when handing down court decisions.

Depending on the city or country the translator works, they must also have suitable transportation, like a valid drivers’ license and reliable auto. Sometimes court testimonies are taken on the spot from invalids or others who are unable to travel to the courthouse. Besides translating, court appointed translators may be asked to be interpreters.

Interpreting is simultaneous translation. This requires high intelligence and a lot of concentration. The translator must mentally absorb the text in one language, then translate and repeat it in another while using the correct terminology and nuances so that the message isn’t lost “in the translation”.

Naturally, translating through the courts is well paid work, and is an expensive profession to prepare for. Interpreting is paid at least double the translating rate. There is also a high liability for errors. If a court appointed translator gives the wrong information or is confused, the entire course of the trial may take a bad turn of events.

Many times a court appointed translator must take out liability insurance in case of an inadvertent error due to carelessness or poorly written text, misunderstandings due to the speaker being hard to follow. A witness who speaks Spanish, for example, may speak with a regional dialect that the translator may not fully understand. These are all pertinent issues in the field of translation.

A superior level of education is often required. The court translator, depending upon where they are employed, must usually have at least a bachelor’s degree in either language or in any other field if they are a native speaker. They will be given a criminal background check before being sworn in. In order to better understand the laws of their region, they may enrol in a preparatory course to help them prepare for the examination, which tends to be held only sporadically. They must be familiar with the national constitution, court structure and be well versed in legal terminology.

The prospective court translator must sit before a panel of examiners. Many examinations are oral, since the court translator will be communicating verbally in many cases. Usually the examination is relatively short in length, but much study and preparation is required. A question, topic or theme is given for the examination and the person must be prepared for any of a wide variety of topics.

After passing the examination, at least several days training is required, the cost of which the trainee shall bear. This can be through a mentorship lasting 4-6 weeks or an intense 2-3 weekend program. At the end of the training, the new court appointed translator will be sworn in. They will use their personal, official stamp bearing their court appointed code on all translated documents. This tiny stamp distinguishes a court appointed translator from an ordinary, albeit qualified translator who is not registered through the court system.