Interpreters convert speech in one language to another, while translators perform a similar function with written text. You’ll need to listen to, understand and memorize content in the original source language and then reproduce it in the target language.
This is usually done in only one direction, normally into your native tongue, but you may be required to interpret on a two-way basis.
- assimilate speakers’ words quickly, including jargon and acronyms
- build up specialist vocabulary banks
- write notes to aid memory
- use microphones and headsets
- prepare paperwork – reviewing agendas before meetings, or lectures and speeches when received in advance
- use the internet to conduct research
- organize workload and liaise with internal departments, agencies and employers
- work to a professional code of ethics covering confidentiality and impartiality.
A good degree in any subject (particularly languages) and proficiency in two or more foreign languages are normally the minimum entrance requirements. Related undergraduate degrees which help to demonstrate this include:
- interpreting and translation
- modern languages
- Sign language and interpreting
- deaf studies.
- an excellent command of English and the other language(s) into which you may interpret
- knowledge of at least one additional language for freelance interpreting, and two or more for a staff position in conference interpreting
- a good memory and the ability to learn fast
- the skills to interact well with people and work as part of a team
- the ability to use discretion and maintain confidentiality on the matters you’re interpreting
- flexibility to deal calmly with unexpected and difficult situations
- reliability, dedication and commitment to projects
- knowledge of current affairs, politics and different cultures and customs.