Information for Contract Interpreters

Interpreter Qualifications

Certified Interpreters

Certified Interpreters are interpreters who are certified by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts (AO) as having passed the Federal Court Interpreter Certification test. Only three languages are certified by the AO: Spanish, Haitian Creole and Navajo. The court may not hire a Spanish, Navajo or Haitian Creole interpreter who is not AO Certified.

Otherwise-Qualified Interpreters

Otherwise-Qualified Interpreters are interpreters in languages for which the AO has not developed a certification program. Under this category there are two classifications:

Professionally Qualified (PQ) Interpreters

PQ interpreters must submit sufficient documentation and meet one of the following requirements:

  • Have passed the State Department conference or seminar interpreter test in a language pair that includes English and the target language. (Note: the State Department’s escort interpreter test is not accepted as qualifying.)
  • Have passed the United Nations interpreter test in a language pair that includes English and the target language.
  • Be a current member in good standing of either:
    • Association Internationale des Interpretes de Conference (AIIC)  OR
    • American Association of Language Specialists (TAALS) (Note: the language pair of the membership qualification must be English and the target language).
  • Hold a Specialist Certificate: Legal (SC:L) of the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID).

Language-Skilled Interpreters

A language-skilled interpreter is an interpreter who does not possess PQ qualifications but can demonstrate to the court’s satisfaction the ability to interpret court proceedings from English to a designated language and from that language to English.

California State Registered Interpreters and California State Certified Interpreters technically fall under this category under the 2010 revision of the United States Courts Guide to Judiciary Policy but they are paid at a different rate than language-skilled interpreters.

Contract Interpreter Rates
Interpreter TypeFull DayHalf DayOvertime
AO Certified$566$320$80/hour
PQ & LS California State Certified$495$280$70/hour
LS & LS California Registered$350$190$44/hour


  1. The half-day rate is paid for services up to/including 4 hrs/day.
  2. The full-day rate is paid for services in excess of 4 hrs, up to/including 8.5 hrs/day (includes 1/2 hour for meal break).
  3. Overtime hourly rate applies after the first 8.5 hrs (includes 1/2 hour for meal break).

United States Courts Policies

The court’s employment of interpreters is subject to the Service Terms and Conditions and the Standards for Performance and Professional Responsibility of the United States Courts. This includes the policies on cancellation and early termination.

View United States Courts policy documents and other important information for interpreters, at the United States Courts federal court interpreters information page (

Fingerprint Requirements

Effective May 16, 2005, the Judicial Conference of the United States requires all new employees, externs and contractors to undergo fingerprint checks. A fingerprint check is a technical fingerprint search of the criminal history records in the FBI national fingerprint database to determine whether an arrest record exists for a particular individual.

Any contractor who has been hired for an assignment since May 16, 2005 and has not yet been fingerprinted must make immediate arrangements to be fingerprinted by the Human Resources Unit. All other contractors must be fingerprinted within 30 calendar days from the date of their next assignment with the court.

(For each courthouse, please contact in the order listed.)

Court Contacts for Interpreter-Related Questions

San Francisco

Melinda BaskerMelinda_Basker@cand.uscourts.gov415-522-2655
Clarissa BarnesClarissa_Barnes@cand.uscourts.gov415-522-2179
Liz NotewareLiz_Noteware@cand.uscourts.gov415-522-2057

San Jose

Kevin BlumbergKevin_Blumberg@cand.uscourts.gov408-535-5358
Adriana KratzmannAdriana_Kratzmann@cand.uscourts.gov408-535-5365


Odile HansenOdile_Hansen@cand.uscourts.gov510-637-3544


Melinda BaskerMelinda_Basker@cand.uscourts.gov415-522-2655