Legal Language Services ranks Pennsylvania as a state with heavily regulated legal interpreting requirements.

Requirements for Certified Interpreters in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania state authorities periodically offer exams, both written and oral, for certification based on the guidelines of the Consortium for State Court Interpreter Certification.

The state of Pennsylvania also offers federal court certification and accepts certification from NAJIT (National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators) and Court Interpreter Certification Certificates from any state which is a member of the National Center for State Court’s Consortium for Language Access in the Court.

However, interpreters certified outside of Pennsylvania’s Interpreter Certification Program (ICP) must attend an ICP orientation session and comply with continued education requirements.

Pennsylvania offers certification in 23 languages:

  • Arabic
  • Bosnian
  • Cantonese
  • Croatian
  • German
  • Haitian Creole
  • Hmong
  • Ilocano
  • Khmer
  • Korean
  • Laotian
  • Mandarin
  • Marshallese
  • Polish
  • Portuguese
  • Russian
  • Serbian
  • Somali
  • Spanish
  • Tagalog
  • Turkish
  • Vietnamese

Classification of Interpreters in Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Judicial Department defines legal interpreters in the following eight ways:

Certified interpreters are considered:

  • Master: An interpreter who has achieved an 85% or higher on both the written and oral proficiency examinations.
  • Certified: An interpreter who has achieved an 80% or higher on the written examination and 70% or higher on the oral examination.

“Otherwise Qualified” interpreters are considered:

  • Qualified: An interpreter who has achieved an 80% or higher on the written examination and a 60% or higher on the oral examination.
  • Conditional: An interpreter who has achieved an 80% or higher on the written examination and a 50% or higher on the oral examination.

Where there is no oral proficiency test available, the following classifications apply:

  • Registered: An interpreter working in a foreign language for which there is no oral proficiency test who has achieved an 80% or higher on the written exam and a “Superior Level” designation on the oral proficiency interview.
  • Conditional: An interpreter working in a foreign language for which there is no oral proficiency test or interview, who has achieved an 80% or higher on the written exam.

For both of these classifications, interpreters must pass the oral proficiency test when one is made available in their language.

All venues in Pennsylvania require certified interpreters for languages in which Pennsylvania provides certification. Please consult with Legal Language Services for the rules pertaining to your specific venue and language.

Common Languages Spoken in Pennsylvania

According to a recent American Community Survey, approximately 9.85% of the Pennsylvania population speaks a language other than English.

What’s more, almost 73% of the non-English speaking population of Pennsylvania speaks one of the following 10 languages:

  • Spanish
  • German
  • Italian
  • Chinese*
  • Pennsylvania Dutch
  • French
  • Russian
  • Vietnamese
  • Korean
  • Polish

Other languages spoken in Pennsylvania include Arabic, Hindi, Gujarathi, French Creole, Greek, Tagalog, Portuguese, Mon-Khmer/Cambodian, Ukrainian, Malayalam, Dutch, Urdu, Mandarin, Albanian, Japense, Kru/Ibo/Yoruba, Telugu, Bengali and Tamil.

*This table was created based on respondents’ written answers, the majority of whom wrote “Chinese” while others specified “Cantonese” or “Mandarin.”

Judicial Districts in Pennsylvania

There are 60 judicial districts in Pennsylvania that encompass 67 counties.  However, requirements are statewide.

Call Legal Language Services at 1-800-788-0450 to find Pennsylvania interpreters who meet state interpreting rules for courtroom trials, hearings, depositions, arbitrations and other legal proceedings.

Please Note

The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The information about legal interpreting guidelines in Pennsylvania is believed to be accurate at the time of posting; however, Legal Language Services is not responsible for any errors or omissions.