Interpreter Job Description
Interpreters facilitate communication between parties who speak two different languages. They do this by interpreting, translating and re-communicating both verbal and written messages from one language into another. This includes both spoken languages and sign languages.
The majority of Interpreters work for professional and educational services companies in conference and event settings, courtrooms, schools and hospitals. A handful work within healthcare and government. Many of them work from home submitting their work electronically. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the field will grow roughly 29 percent over the next ten years, much faster than average.
Interpreter Duties and Responsibilities
In order to interpret communications, an Interpreter performs many different tasks. We analyzed job listings for Interpreter in order to identify these core duties and responsibilities.
Translate Verbal Communications
The bulk of an Interpreters job is to translate verbal communications, usually in real time. This can include speeches at conferences and events, meetings, classes and training sessions, or individual communications between two people or small groups of people. It is crucial that they interpret accurately and quickly in real time without leaving out or changing any information that is being communicated.
Translate Written Communications
Interpreters also translate written communications. These can include anything from documents and forms to meeting notes to emails to presentations. It’s important that they effectively communicate the meaning of the text and maintain its core message.
Acting as a liaison between two parties, the interpreters facilitate communications by assisting clients on behalf of their company. This can include helping them understand documents and information given out by the company, assisting them in filling out forms and paperwork and answering questions or addressing concerns on behalf of the client. They must also maintain a knowledge of the clients’ culture and be aware of any culturally sensitive issues that may arise.
The Interpreter is often required to document and record interactions and translations. They record their interactions by entering data into a system, and that information is then used for various statistical reporting purposes. This includes recording in-person interactions as well as phone conversations and taking meeting minutes.
Because communication is the job of an Interpreter, they must have fantastic communication abilities, verbal and written, in both of the languages they will be using. They are personable and having great relationship-building skills, allowing them to effectively communicate and build relationships with both parties. Empathy and an awareness of other cultures is also crucial to being a successful Interpreter.
Core skills: Based on job listings we looked at, employers want Interpreters with these core skills. If you want to work as an Interpreter, focus on the following. Go getter enthusiastic ambitious
- Possessing a High School diploma or GED
- Having some relevant experience
- Being fluent in the two languages being interpreted
- Demonstrating translation abilities
- Showing knowledge of cultures involved
- Being comfortable with public speaking
Advanced skills: While most employers did not require the following skills, multiple job listings included them as preferred. Add these to your Interpreter toolbox and broaden your career options.
- Bachelor’s degree in language being interpreted
- Associate’s degree in Interpreting
- Prior interpreter experience with spoken word
- Experience working in government positions
- Industry-specific knowledge
- Completing an interpreting certificate program
We searched the Web to find the best industry resources to help you continue exploring a career as an Interpreter. From thought leaders to industry groups, this list is packed with opportunities to learn, connect and engage.
On the Web
The Linguist – A blog from a professional linguist
The Interpreter Diaries – Blog from a professional interpreter
Sign Language NYC – Blog from one of the biggest sign language interpreter services organizations
American Translators Association – Association for translators
National Council on Interpreting in Healthcare – Association for interpreters in healthcare
National Association for Interpretation – Leading professional organization for interpreters
The Bilingual Courtroom – A book on being a judicial interpreter
The Interpreters – Stories from interpreters who served in the U.S. military
Interpreters and Translators – A book filled with first-hand career information
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