Skip to the content
Professional Programs

Legal Interpretation and Translation Certificate Program (English/Spanish)

Legal StudiesSummary

This certificate program helps to train bilingual students for the profession of certified court interpreter, a profession much in demand given the linguistic diversity of the state of California. Cal State L.A.'s unique program can also prepare qualified students for a career as a certified translator or interpreter for any industry that needs to serve individuals with limited English skills, including government agencies, corporations, hospitals and telecoms.

Finally, bilingual persons already employed in another capacity can increase their skills and their remuneration with formal interpreting certification from an accredited university.

Work Prospects

There is currently a shortage of certified interpreters in California, particularly for Spanish. Nationally, Department of Labor projections anticipate increases in the need for both interpreters and translators at a rate 'much faster than average' ( The starting salary for Certified Court Interpreters employed directly by the Courts is about $70,000, plus benefits. A majority of interpreters and translators work as free-lancers and thus earn varying amounts. For more information specific to California Criminal Court Interpreters, see the Prospective students are encouraged to do independent research on the nature of translation and interpreting, employment prospects, and on the different schools that may offer instruction.

Gainful Employment Disclosure

About the Program

Court interpreters provide accurate interpretation and translation for witnesses and parties in courtrooms and other legal proceedings where legal terminology is used and knowledge of legal procedures and processes is essential. The program teaches students to interpret consecutively as well as simultaneously, and to 'sight translate' legal, business and medical documents. The instruction covers a variety of court and administrative procedures and practices. While this Extension certificate program can train students to take county, state, and even federal examinations that certify the competency of interpreters and translators for employment in non-legal contexts, the program focus is on the special knowledge and training needed to work as a court interpreter and meet the standards of the Judicial Council of California
The final course consists of intensive preparation and mock exams simulating the written and oral examinations given at the State and Federal levels for certification as an interpreter for the courts.

Who Can Enroll?

Prospective students must successfully pass a screening test of Spanish and English (monolingual and bi-lingual knowledge of vocabulary, grammar, word usage and reading comprehension. A formal college degree is not required. A pass in the screening test qualifies you to register for the first class, ML790A. During that first quarter - not before it - you complete a a formal admission process, by submitting an application form and either: official college transcripts indicating 54 quarter (36 semester) units of coursework; or else, two letters of recommendation indicating practical bilingual experience in the workplace.

Click here for Fall 2014 Schedule

Program Courses:

The program consists of seven, four-unit, quarterly courses (28 non-degree credit units in all). The specific content and sequence of the required courses are as follows:

NO. Course Title Units
ML 790A Contrastive Grammatical Analysis of English and Spanish 4 units
ML 790B Translation and Interpreting: Elements and Methods 4 units
ML 791A Translation and Interpreting for Criminal Law Proceedings 4 units
ML 791 B Translation and Interpreting for Criminal Law Proceedings (Advanced) 4 units
ML 792A Translation and Interpreting for Civil Matters 4 units
ML 792 B Translation and Interpreting for Civil Matters (Advanced) 4 units
ML 793 Lab Practicum for Legal Interpreting Exams 4 units


Program Cost:

The cost for each 11-week class is $600, making the total program cost $4,200 spread over time. A discount of $50 per class for 'early bird' enrollment can reduce the total cost to $3,850. Textbooks are extra and average about $40 per quarter. The fee for the bilingual screening test is $20.

NO. Course Title Units
ML 795 Advanced Interpreting Review 3 units

This is class is for program graduates who are preparing for the State exam. The aim is to keep interpreting skills fresh and sharp through scheduled practice and regular feedback from an instructor. This is a three-unit class. The class may be ' repeated for credit ' up to six times. The class is graded C/ NC (Pass/No Pass) The class is not part of the actual L.I.T Certificate Program, but rather an optional supplement; enrollment is restricted to students who have already completed the Certificate Program. The class runs on Saturday afternoons from 1:00-4:00. It is a three unit class. The current cost of the class is $450. It is not eligible for the Early Bird rate.

Course Schedule:

Courses are scheduled quarterly, including summer quarter, on dates corresponding to the regular Cal State L.A. term schedule. None of the courses can be taken concurrently except the last two. Courses meet on weekends to accommodate working students. Classes meet in regular university classrooms on the campus of Cal State L.A..


All courses are taught by adjunct faculty and special lecturers who are bilingual language professionals and represent a range of the interpreting and translation certifications of greatest interest to students, such as CCI (California Court Interpreter), FI (Federal Court Interpreter), CAHI (California Adminstrative Hearings Interpreter) and CT (Certified Translator, American Translators Association).

Come learn about Court Interpreter training in general and about the Cal State L.A. program at a free orientation session.

Upcoming date(s):

Aug 16, 2014, 11:15 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. (for students starting in Fall 2014)

Nov 15, 2014, 11:15 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. (for students starting in Winter 2015)

Location: Salazar Hall

To attend, you must reserve - see 'RSVP' below.

RSVP: To attend, please call (323) 343-4922 and leave your name, number and email address by 12:00 p.m. on the Friday before the date or email


View Larger Map

To locate Salazar Hall on the campus, see "15A" on the south side of campus in this Campus map.

Use Parking Structure "A" - (blue diamond on Campus map.) - buy a ticket ($1/hour) at the yellow machine.


You must take this test of your bilingual skills before you start classes

Test date ahead of Fall 2014 quarter:
 - September 6, 2014 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Test date ahead of Winter 2015 quarter:
 - December 6, 2014 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Registration: To take the LIT Screening Test, you must register by 11:00 a.m. on the Friday before the test date. You cannot register at the test itself. The fee is $20. Call (323) 343-4900 to pay by credit card, or, to pay by check or cash, come to campus on a weekday (8-6 Mon-Th., 8-5 Fri) and go to the PaGE Registration Office (USU 105, in the Student Union building).There is no online registration.

Directions: See map and links provided above for "ORIENTATION".

MEDICAL INTERPRETING                                                         

Contacts and links

Request information packet:

General Info:
Email the LIT Assistant or
call (323) 343-4922

Director Advisement:
Email Piers Armstrong or
call (323) 343-4917


Program application form

Call (323) 343-4900
Fax (323) 343-4954

  • The form is for registration by mail or fax; it is not required if registering by phone.

  • There is no online registration for these classes.

Class registration Form

For Credit refund policy