Interpreter Certification Pathway

Interpreter Certification Pathway

Achieving personal, professional, and financial success

Court interpreting is a fast growing, varied, and fulfilling field that has the potential to help individuals realize their personal, professional, and financial goals.  The Occupational Outlook Handbook projects that the need for court interpreters and translators will grow at a faster than average rate. As such, Nebraska Judicial Branch interpreters have the opportunity to work in a variety of settings including hearings, trials, and probation services and to get a front row seat to the American judicial system in action.  Interpreters improve their skills while working with the Nebraska Judicial Branch and receive increased compensation as they travel along the Interpreter Certification Pathway. 

Oral Exam
*2-hour minimum applies



Education &

work history


The Nebraska Judicial Branch believes that being bilingual is not enough and strives to uphold the highest standards of language proficiency and professionalism – and wants to partner with interpreters who believe the same.  Interpreters who become Certified or Provisionally Certified demonstrate that they too share in this belief through their:

  • Substantial language skills in both English and the target language,
  • Broad knowledge of court-related vocabulary, and
  • Verified ability to accurately interpret in a wide range of modes, registers, and subject matters. 

Ensuring that Nebraska Judicial Branch interpreters meet the highest standards of professionalism and skill upholds the principles of the U.S. Constitution, including the right to due process and a fair trial.  Furthermore, it reaffirms that justice should not be limited by one’s proficiency in the English language. 

Nebraska recognizes four interpreter classifications and encourages all interpreters it partners with to follow the pathway until they achieve either certification or provisional certification.  The Language Access Program has developed a comprehensive Interpreter Certification Pathway for current and aspiring interpreters that clearly outlines the steps needed to achieve each of the four interpreter classifications.  The pathway is a three-pronged process which includes:

  • Attending the Nebraska Judicial Branch Interpreter Orientation,
  • Successfully passing the written exam, and
  • Successfully passing a National Center for State Courts (NCSC) oral exam or by demonstrating proficiency through education and work history.    

Becoming a Certified or Provisionally Certified interpreter requires focus and dedication, but it can be done, and the Language Access Program is here to partner with interpreters along the way.  The pathway is difficult – and it should be - as court proceedings and probation services can have a lifelong impact on the parties involved.  However, it is the Nebraska Judicial Branch’s aim is to create a supportive environment where interpreters feel empowered to excel, knowing they have a strong team behind them cheering them on. 

Explore each of the tabs below to learn how to get started or continue on the pathway to certification or provisional certification.

Court Interpreter Orientation

The first step in becoming a certified or provisionally certified interpreter is to attend Interpreter Orientation.  Topics covered include an introduction to the court and probation, ethics, and skill building in sight translation, consecutive interpreting, and simultaneous interpreting.  Content is delivered in a dynamic, highly interactive, engaging, and fun environment.  In 2024, Interpreter Orientation will be offered in a 2-day live on-line format three times on Thursdays and Fridays.  To receive Interpreter Orientation attendance credit, participants must attend the full two days, actively participate, and keep their camera on. Register to attend Interpreter Orientation

The Nebraska Court System – Student Publication

The Nebraska Court System – Student Publication (Spanish)

Written Exam and Study Aides

Passing the written exam is the second step to becoming a certified or provisionally certified interpreter.  The written exam consists of 135 multiple choice questions and measures knowledge of the English language, court related terms and usage, and ethics and professional conduct.  A score of at least 80% (108 correct answers) on the written exam is needed to proceed to the next step of the Interpreter Certification Pathway. In 2024, the written exam will be offered in-person three times in Omaha, Lincoln, and a city in western Nebraska. Apply to take the written exam

General Language ProficiencyPointsCourt Related TermsPoints
Sentence completion9Sentence completion36
Synonyms in context8Court related questions10
Antonyms12Professional responsibility and ethics2

To set current and aspiring interpreters up for success to pass the written exam, a variety of study aides have been developed:

Oral Certification Exam and Study Aides

Passing the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) Oral Exam is the third and final step to becoming a certified interpreter. The oral exam measures language knowledge and fluency and the ability to successfully render meaning from target to source language in simultaneous and consecutive Interpretation and sight translation. In 2024, the oral exam will be offered in-person two times in Omaha and Lincoln. Apply to take the Oral Exam and Background Check.  The NCSC Oral Exam is currently available in 18 languages:

CantoneseFilipino (Tagalog)French
Haitian CreoleHmongKhmer

For languages that NCSC has not developed an oral exam for, please explore the Provisional Certification tab.

To set current and aspiring interpreters up for success to pass the oral exam, a variety of study aides have been developed: 

Provisional Certification

Depending on the source there are between 3,000 – 6,500 languages in the world.  Does that mean for languages that NCSC has not developed an oral exam for the interpreters are destined to languish as non-certified and not realize their full potential?  Absolutely not – it was for this very reason that the Nebraska Judicial Branch established an alternate pathway for interpreters to demonstrate their language proficiency.  Like their colleagues, candidates for provisional certification must attend Court Interpreter Orientation and pass the Written Exam.  Additional requirements are summarized below and further information can be found in § 6-708 Provisionally certified court interpreter requirements.

  • Completed questionnaire,
  • Documentation of applicant’s written English proficiency,
  • Documentation of applicant's oral English proficiency,
  • Documentation of applicant’s written target language proficiency,
  • Documentation of applicant's oral target language proficiency, and
  • 3 letters of reference.

Skill Building

Skill Building is a language neutral training with the goal of successfully preparing candidates to take and pass the Oral Exam. The training will build upon the simultaneous and consecutive Interpretation and sight translation skills learned in Interpreter Orientation. In class practice and immediate feedback are part of the training.  A strong correlation exists between attending a skill building training and passing the Oral Exam.  In 2024, Skill Building will be offered once in a 2-day live on-line format. Register to attend Skill Building training

Lending Library

Continuing Education Units

Continuing Education Units (CEUs) are a great way for interpreters to both satisfy § 6-709 Continuing education requirements and get more training while preparing for certification or provisional certification.  Interpreters must complete 10 approved CEUs during each 2-year reporting period. At least 4 of the CEUs must be earned at an ethics and skills building workshop. CEUs are required to ensure that registered, certified, and provisionally certified interpreters maintain and improve their interpreting skills. Use the Continuing Education Compliance Form to report earned CEUs for each 2-year reporting period. 

While the Nebraska Judicial Branch does not endorse any outside agency, below are some resources that current interpreters use to meet their CEU requirements: