Legal and Court Interpreter: Job Overview
What are some perks of working as a legal interpreter?
Competitive salary: The freelance rate in federal courts for professionally qualified or certified legal interpreters, as of January 2016, was $376 per day, $204 per half-day (up to 4 hours), and $53 per hour or part thereof for overtime. The federal court rate for non-certified or language-skilled interpreters was $181 per day, $100 per half-day, and $31 per hour overtime.
For interpreters working in full-time positions for state or federal courts, starting salary may range from $30,000 to $80,000 a year. If only jury duty was compensated this much!
Positive job outlook: From 2012-2022, employment for translators and interpreters is projected to grow 46%--much faster than most fields-- due to globalization and the influx of immigrants in the US. If there’s anything one can depend on, it’s that the courts will never be lacking of cases—or interpreters to help with them.
Seeing the difference you make first-hand: The prestige and salary of a legal interpreter are all well and good, but the most fulfilling aspect of the job is helping people—often those who belong to the most disadvantaged groups in society. Clients have a hard time navigating legal mumbo jumbo in their native language, so by overcoming language barriers and the technicalities of the court system, the interpreting you provide truly impacts the lives of the people you serve.
A Day in the Life of a Legal Interpreter
The need for accurate and comprehensive legal interpreting is great, but court systems do not always recognize the importance of a certified interpreter. The case of Alejandro Ramirez illustrates how a lack of proper interpreting training can lead to severely unjust consequences for the client:
Alejandro Ramirez, a 20-year-old Mexican national who had arrived in the United States for the first time in January 1997, was arrested for the shooting and killing of a 35-year-old male intruder (Ramirez was innocent, but unwittingly took the fall). Police brought in a college professor who was untrained in legal interpreting and not fluent in Spanish to interpret for Ramirez during his interrogation.
The professor botched the interpreting in numerous ways: “The following… are just some of the problems with the interpretation: the interpreter omitted, mispronounced and misused words of the Miranda Warning as given, spoke in the third person and answered on Mr. Ramírez' behalf without asking him first.”Despite Ramirez’ defense coalition bringing both this matter, and the additional matter of a second incompetent interpreter hired by the prosecutor, to the judge’s attention, the judge disregarded the coalition’s concerns.Ramirez was convicted of murder and prison indefinitely for 15 years to life, as well as a second three-year sentence in regards to the firearm.
Why take our Legal Interpreting Certificate course?
Are you passionate about securing justice, protection, and comprehension of the law for everyone? Do you already work in a legal setting, but don’t have the training to interpret professionally for your clients? Our Legal Interpreter Training Program is the ideal preparatory course to take before beginning a successful interpreting career in the legal field.
1.Essential knowledge for interpreting in a professional capacity: Our course introduces you to legal/court interpreter roles and skills, interpreter ethics, and legal terminology in both English and your target language. Our students leave with a thorough understanding of the Massachusetts legal system and the Standards and Procedures for Court Interpreters, the document which regulates professional court interpreting in Massachusetts.
2. Hands-on practice: You’ll get the opportunity to receive language coaching and act out role-plays in smaller, interactive groups divided by target language.
3. Qualified, certified instructors: An experienced instructor with experience in the court system leads the lecture portion of the course. The interactive coaching sessions are offered by experienced interpreters who are native speakers of the target language.