Texas certifies interpreting skill through a 2-part examination which is designed by the National Center of State Courts and managed by the Judicial Branch Certification Commission. The written exam measures command of the English language, and the second part mastery of the target language. The oral exam is notoriously difficult to pass and tests skill in the 3 interpreting modes: sight translation, simultaneous, and consecutive. Interpreters accumulate points for accuracy. Accuracy is achieved through speed and broad understanding of vocabulary and culture.
Interpreters may pass at the Basic or Master levels for the state exam. Basic license qualifiers have passed at between 60% – 70% for the three combined modes. Master at 70% or higher. Master license interpreters are mandated by the Texas Code of Civil Procedure (HB 4445) to interpret in courts of record. These are court proceedings in all courts in this state, including justice courts and municipal courts. This includes criminal and civil courts, including family matters, excluding administrative and juvenile courts, for which Basic license interpreters are qualified.
If your court is located in a remote area where licensed interpreters are unavailable, courts may use video conferencing for licensed interpreters. In special cases courts may swear in a language skilled or professionally qualified interpreter as an expert witness for purposes of the proceeding as outlined in Texas Rules of Evidence 604. If you have doubts, contact your court coordinator for more information.