Interpreter Job Description: How to Become a Successful Interpreter

September 12, 2018

When looking through the interpreter job description, you will get to know that interpreter jobs lie in converting statements of one language into another one. As such, when interpreting, and interpreting should be really concentrated to listen carefully to everything one is talking about since it is important to keep in mind the main content, message or idea that the speaker is trying to convey. If an interpreter fails to memorize the major details of the statement or speech, then it will be hard to reproduce the message in the target language. As a rule, working as an interpreter predetermines interpreting the text in the interpreter’s mother tongue but there are exceptions when one needs to do it two-way.

Interpretation of texts is distinguished into the following three categories:

  • Consecutive:
  • The speaker pauses and you have time during this break to interpret a part of the text into the target language. It can be done sentence after sentence or a paragraph after paragraph (but only when the paragraphs are short). This interpretation type is used at business conferences and other similar meetings.

  • Simultaneous:
  • You start interpreting into the target language while the speaker is still talking. As a rule, this interpretation type is utilized in large conferences.

  • Liaison:
  • The interpreter translates each sentence of the speaker. It is used in legal and hospital settings.

Interpreter’s Responsibilities

  • Attend conferences and meetings;
  • Be careful and attentive while listening;
  • Be good at listening comprehension (and overall comprehension) of languages;
  • Be accurate and logical in concise reproduction of text in the target language;
  • Be friendly with technological appliances, such as headphones, microphones, telephones, the Internet, as well as photo and video.

All in all, when you look at interpreter job description, you will see that the main part of work functions is limited to travelling and providing interpreting services to clients. The role of interpreter is crucial and fundamental in all settings and subject areas. Even though some types of interpreters do not have specialization in a particular research field, subject area or industry, the others specialize in one particular field or even several areas of expertise.

Classification of Interpreters

  1. There is a special category of interpreters – conference interpreters – who work merely at conferences, where the main audience comprises of non-English speaking attendees. As a rule, such professionals are involved in the sphere of diplomacy, international relations or international business. Nonetheless, conference interpreters can easily work in the other spheres and also with speakers of other foreign languages. Recruiters and headhunters prefer more experienced interpreters who have skills and experience working in a variety of spheres and who have proficient level of at least two foreign languages (apart from the native tongue). For example, many interpreting companies are looking for interpreter skills to convert text from French and Spanish into English. From the interpreting experience of conference interpreters, it can be inferred that they are mainly involved in simultaneous interpreting. Those who take part in the conference but are not English speakers can adjust the language in their headphones to understand what the speakers are talking about. When an interpreter works during the conference, he/ she listens to a part of text and then translates it immediately.
  2. Guide interpreters’ mission is to accompany people who are visiting the other country in business or other matters and translate their speech so that representatives of different countries can communicate effectively and feel comfortable during their stay. Guide interpreters should be familiar with both informal and formal means of interpreting. These interpreters also travel on a regular basis.
  3. Medical (or health) interpreters usually work in medical settings and ensure proper and effective communication between the patients and the doctoral staff. They perform useful work as there are frequently patients from abroad that do not understand the language of the hospital setting they ended up in, so it is important to interpret the information to ensure effective treatment. Here, an interpreter is supposed to be well versed in medical terminology in order for the doctors to establish the right diagnosis. Moreover, medical interpreters should maintain confidentiality so as not to disclose any private information of patients.
  4. Judiciary or legal interpreters are typically hired to work during court settings and other legal procedures, such as trials, depositions, arraignments, and hearings. Their core aim is to help people with poor knowledge of English (or any other language) understand the case. They are also required to be knowledgeable of legal terminology.
  5. Sign language interpreters need to perfectly know the principles of communication in sign language in order to help the deaf understand those people who can hear and vice versa. Fluency and proficiency in American Sign Language is a must. ASL involves the principles of finger spelling, signing, and certain body language. ASL has a separate grammar. There are also triangular interpreters who ensure proper and effective communication among an ASL speaker, a speaker of English, and a representative of another language background.

What does an Interpreter Do?

If you have chosen life of a freelance interpreter, then you will work at any part of the day or night convenient for you. Some formal interpreting settings require you to work during the regular office hours (such as interpreting for business, legal meetings, etc.). However, in some cases of emergency (such as police calls, medical emergencies, etc.), you might be even asked to work in the evenings, at nights or during the weekends.

What Is the Role of an Interpreter?

  • Ensure proper communication on the telephone;
  • Help attendees at the conferences or other formal meetings;
  • Interpret information during business trips.

As such, it is important to have proficient level of languages you are interpreting. Besides, it is advisable to have qualifications in certain subject areas, such as medical, legal, business, technical, etc. Moreover, good understanding of formal and informal language is also a must.

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