Language Access Program – How to Get Certified

Welcome! To assist the Illinois circuit courts with providing qualified interpreters, the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts (AOIC) administers a statewide certification program for persons with native-like mastery of English and a second language. Certification requires attendance at an orientation and passing written and oral exams. For a detailed overview of the AOIC Language Access Program and the policies and procedures in place for the training and certification of interpreters, please review the Language Access Program Manual.

AOIC Language Access Program Manual

Step 1: Attend Orientation

To be placed on the AOIC Court Interpreter Registry, candidates must first attend a two-day orientation. The two-day orientation is open to any person at least 18 years of age with a native-like mastery of English and a second language. This orientation covers the interpreter’s role and professional ethics, the modes of interpreting used in court, legal terminology and court protocol. Candidates are expected to continue self-study before taking the written and oral exams. To view a sample orientation agenda, please click here.

Sign language and deaf interpreters are only required to attend orientation and will not be tested by the AOIC. Candidates must submit proof of Advanced or Master’s level licensure with the IDHHC to attend orientation.

Step 2: Pass Written Exam

After completing the orientation, candidates may register to take the NCSC written exam. The 2 hour and 15 minute test covers English proficiency, legal terms, court protocol and ethical situations. Candidates must pass with a score of 80% or higher to be eligible to take an oral exam or oral proficiency interview.


Step 3: Pass Oral Exam

Candidates who have passed the written test may take the NCSC oral exam testing their skills in sight translation, consecutive, and simultaneous interpreting. The exam is offered in 22 languages. Candidates must pass with 70% or higher to be listed on the AOIC Court Interpreter Registry as “Certified.” Candidates must pass with a 60% or higher to be listed as “Registered.” Full oral exams are currently available in Arabic, Cantonese, French, Haitian Creole, Hmong, Ilocano, Khmer, Korean, Lao, Mandarin, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Tagalog and Vietnamese. Abbreviated exams are available in Bosnian-Serbian-Croatian, Marshallese and Turkish.


The AOIC offers optional skill building courses for those that have passed the written exam and are preparing for the oral exam or would like to improve their score. The dates and locations are TBD.

To assess whether court interpreting is right for you, please review the NCSC Self-Assessment Tool.

Click here for resources study materials, legal glossaries, and information on local and online training programs!


Step 4: Enroll

After passing the relevant exams, candidates will receive an application packet to become certified, qualified or registered with the Supreme Court of Illinois. Certified, qualified and registered foreign language interpreters and eligible sign language interpreters will be included on a statewide registry that is made available to all circuit courts in Illinois. Interpreter assignments are arranged at the county level by the court administrator or other court personnel on an as-needed basis.


Foreign language interpreters that have completed portions of the foreign language certification process for other state courts, the federal courts, or have passed the NAJIT exam may be eligible for reciprocity. If you are eligible, please fill out the Application form for reciprocity. Please email the application and any supporting documentation as an email attachment to Lekisha Gunn, AOIC Senior Program Manager at We will continue to accept reciprocity applications on a rolling basis.