Professional Certificate in Interpretation and Translation (English/Spanish)

Professional Certificate in Interpretation and Translation (English/Spanish)

Classroom Program


10 months


20 Units

UCR Extension

Courtrooms, emergency rooms, schools, professional conferences - these are just a few of the settings where professional interpreters and translators apply their skills. More than just knowing the correct words to use, these experts must understand the fields in which they work, and have a firm grasp of the cultures involved. As language specialists, interpreters/translators serve as a crucial link between those who cannot understand English and those who serve them, accurately conveying information, concepts and ideas between languages.

Whether your interest in law, medicine, business, education, or immigration, UCR Extension's comprehensive certificate program prepares you to enter the professional field of interpreting and formal translation.

Designed For

For individuals who are:

  • Professional interpreters and translators.
  • Considering a career in professional interpretation and translation.
  • Interested in becoming certified court interpreters and have a high level of bilingual fluency developed through formal education or from interpretation-related work experience.

What You'll Learn

  • All modes of interpretation
  • Spanish-to-English and English-to-Spanish vocabulary
  • Acquisition of specialized terminology
  • Translation skills used in criminal and civil court matters
  • Training in the development of listening and memory skills
  • Note-taking techniques
  • Public speaking

The program also provides preparation for examinations required for federal and state court interpretation and county agencies, as well as professional organizations.

What You Can Do With This Certificate

Positions are available in law, medicine, education, business and other professional areas, and can be found in private firms, government, or nonprofit organizations. They might include:

  • Bilingual Interpreter
  • Professional Interpreter

Program Overview


20 Units

“If you are bilingual, there is great potential in the translation field, but without the necessary tools and guidance, you'll have a very rough path to walk. By earning my professional certificate, and with special thanks to the amazing instructors, I learned the techniques needed to achieve my goals. I highly recommend this program.”

Perla Marquez

Professional Interpreter, Translator and Owner
Perla Mar Enterprises
Menifee, CA

Earning the Certificate

Prior to enrolling, please ensure that you meet the following minimum requirements:

  • Have completed two years of college-level work, or have prior approval from the department.
  • Take and pass a written and oral admissions exam.

Oral Admissions Exam Information:

On the day of the admissions exam, students need to submit the following (via flash drive or audio recorder):

  • Recording of a 2-3 minute reading selection in English from a newspaper or magazine article of your choice
  • Recording of an oral interpretation into Spanish of the same article
  • Recording of an autobiographical statement in your non-native language, no longer than 3 minutes

Admissions Exam

  • Students must successfully pass the qualifying admissions written exam to determine mastery in both languages
  • Bring a bilingual dictionary
  • Bring pencils or pens

Program Timeline

  • Summer Quarter: Enroll in the Information Session and complete the Admissions Exam
  • Fall Quarter: Start the program

Also of Interest

This program is approved by the American Translators Association (ATA) and the International Medical Interpreters Association (IMIA). This program is listed on the CA Judicial Council Court Interpreters Program website.

For more information see How to Earn a Certificate

Certificate Courses

Our certificate programs are designed to be flexible, allowing you the option to take just a few courses or to earn the complete certificate. If choosing to complete the certificate, we recommend you get the most out of your experience by following the suggested completion path below.

Quarter 1

Professional Certificate in Interpretation and Translation - English/Spanish: Information Session

SPN 851.01

An overview of the Professional Interpretation and Translation Certificate Program offered through UCR Extension. Learn about the field of professional interpretation and translation including career paths and specializations, education levels, job requirements, skill sets, and responsibilities. If you are looking to break into the field of interpretation and translation, this program is for you. Program offers approximately 200 hours of professional level instruction.

Qualifying Admission Exam for the Interpretation and Document Translation Programs

SPN 852.32

Applicants for the Professional Interpretation and Translation English↔Spanish Certificate and the Specialized Program in English↔Spanish Document Translation must successfully pass the Qualifying Admissions Exam prior to enrolling in either certificate program. Admission to the program will be based on an assessment of your language skills in English and Spanish. The exam will test your knowledge of vocabulary, reading, comprehension, spelling and grammar, as well as the ability to complete college-level coursework.

Applicants for the Professional Interpretation and Translation English↔Spanish Certificate Exam, please bring a recording of good quality (any size) on which you have recorded the following:

  • a 2-3 minute reading selection in English from a newspaper or magazine article of your choice
  • an oral interpretation into Spanish of the same article
  • an autobiographical statement in your non-native language (no longer than 3 minutes)

Applicants should also bring a bilingual dictionary, pens, and pencils.

Applicants for the Specialized Certificate in English↔Spanish Document Translation Exam, please bring:

  •  a bilingual dictionary and pens and pencils

Note: Graduates of the Professional Interpretation and Translation English↔Spanish Certificate Program, and/or experienced professionals working in the Interpretation and Translation field for more than two years may be given special permission from the department to be exempt from taking the admissions exam. 

Quarter 2

The U.S. Court System: An Overview for Legal Interpreters

LAW X443

3 units

A general survey of criminal and civil courts and the various jurisdictions in which they operate. Explores basic legal concepts such as constitutional rights and search and seizure. Includes statutes and codes that court interpreters often encounter and discussion of related systems like probation departments and law enforcement agencies.

Introduction to Legal Interpretation

SPN X407

3 units

Acquire the necessary skills and begin the journey into the rewarding and in-demand profession of Legal Interpretation. Learn essential study techniques, as well as the three basic skills of court interpreting: sight translation, consecutive, and simultaneous interpretation. Class discussions cover important legal concepts surrounding the U.S. court system, including:

  • The role of the interpreter
  • Ethics
  • Professional profile
  • Job market
  • Pay scales
  • Professional organizations
  • The private sector

Quarter 3

Sight Translation: English to Spanish

SPN X404

4 units

Learn appropriate Spanish to English vocabulary and translation skills used in criminal and civil court matters. Sight translation is stressed. Students are required to learn glossaries. Materials are drawn from:

  • Constitutional rights
  • Jury instructions
  • Penal and vehicle codes
  • Arraignments
  • Pleas and waivers
  • Workers' compensation
  • Depositions and other civil proceedings

Students are required to learn glossaries.

Consecutive Interpretation

SPN X405

4 units

Emphasizes interpretation as practiced in courts and legal hearings. Tapes, court transcripts, and other legal documents will be used to teach technique. Note-taking skills will be developed, employing an adaptation of the Rozan Method. Materials include specialized glossaries.

Quarter 4

Simultaneous Interpretation

SPN X404.5

4 units

Learn to use simultaneous interpretation. Shadowing, decalage and other memory retention techniques will be covered to help acquire the flow, register, language grammar, and vocabulary necessary for a professional level of interpreting. Lab work will be stressed.

Professional Interpreting: Protocol and Ethics

SPN X404.3

2 units

Focus on ethical principles and standards in the interpreting profession. Explore and discuss:

  • Complete and accurate interpretation
  • Impartiality
  • Confidentiality
  • Dress code
  • Preparedness
  • Conflicts of interest
  • The interpreters' code of professional ethics

Methods of instruction include discussion, role playing, text readings, and courtroom observations.

“I have been translating for more than 10 years, and I am motivated to help people understand the main concept of what's being discussed in a language other than their own. Clients often feel intimidated, but with a well-trained interpreter by their side, they are able to understand exactly what is happening. It's rewarding for me to help the interpreters in my classes become more effective at translating.”

Pedro Fuentes

Adjunct Faculty of Spanish Languages
Norco College
Norco, CA

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