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Court Interpreters


2024 Testing and Training Schedules

Watch the webpage for updates regarding testing.


Interpreter Orientation Program 

The next orientation program is scheduled for November, 2024. The orientation program will be conducted virtually, via Microsoft Teams.


Written Exam 

The next Court Interpreter Written Examination is scheduled for November, 2024. The written exam will be held in the 4th floor library of the Judicial Branch Building, 1111 East Court Ave., Des Moines, IA 50319.


Oral Certification Exam 

The next Court Interpreter Oral Certification exam is scheduled for November, 2024. Exams will be held at the Iowa Judicial Branch Building, 1111 East Court Ave, Des Moines, Iowa. 

Click here for the current roster of interpreters.

Language Access Plan for Iowa's Courts

The State Court Administrator has approved a Language Access Plan for Iowa's Courts to guide the courts' efforts to fulfill their mission to administer justice under law equally to all persons, including those who are limited in their ability to speak or understand English. The plan describes a detailed strategy for how Iowa's courts provide and manage language assistance services.  It also provides references to key Iowa statutes, court rules, and information resources to assist court personnel and judicial officers in their efforts to achieve the plan's goals and objectives.

Why Be a Court Interpreter?

Imagine you are residing in a country where the common language is one that you do not natively speak. Now imagine that you have some legal matter which requires you to interact with court staff, lawyers, judges and a legal process that might be completely different than what you are used to. That is the position that most non-native speakers of English find themselves in matters before the judicial branch of the State of Iowa. Iowa courts need knowledgeable and skilled court interpreters to help the judicial system provide help and access to justice for persons with limited English proficiency. The person might be a witness, a party to a proceeding, or even a victim of a crime. Regardless of which it is, they need to be able to understand what is happening and what is being said. That is where a court interpreter comes in. A competent court interpreter should be able to completely and accurately interpret everything that is said in court, without adding or omitting anything.

To achieve this level of expertise, it is not enough that a person speak both languages. Being an approved court interpreter is not a simple job. To be an interpreter you need to have a: 

  1. Native-like mastery of both English and a second language
  2. Wide general knowledge--for example, that which is characteristic of a person with at least two years of college
  3. Extensive vocabularies, including legal terms and slang, in both languages
  4. Excellent memory skills, plus mental and verbal agility
  5. At least some training and experience 

At last count Iowa had around forty (40) court interpreters on its official roster, yet there is always room for more. If you think you have what it takes to be an interpreter then why not give it a try?  You can learn more how to be trained to be an interpreter and/or translator at Iowa Interpreters and Translators Association or Midwest Association of Translators and Interpreters.

If you need additional information or have a question about anything on this website, please feel free to contact us:  

State Court Administration
Language Access Services Office
[email protected]

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