In today’s global economy, there are plenty of opportunities to use your language skills either as an interpreter or professional translator. Events such as conferences, conference calls, business meetings and seminars where the participants speak different languages, all require the services of a professional interpreter.
Deciding whether to use consecutive or simultaneous interpreting depends on the nature of the particular event. Consecutive interpreting usually involves one person speaking in their own language, often pausing after a few sentences in order to allow the interpreter to translate what has been said into the target language. Consecutive interpreting best suits occasions such as formal meeting and interviews, speeches made by foreign dignitaries and business meetings. When organising an event that will require a consecutive interpreter, extra time will need to be allocated for the proceedings, as the continuous pauses made by the speaker will mean that any speech or meeting will tend to last longer.
Simultaneous interpreting is most appropriate for larger type of events, including large conferences and conventions, courtrooms and tribunals, lectures and training seminars. This type of interpreting takes place in real-time and requires certain specialist equipment such as a microphones and headsets, booths and on-site engineers.
For those thinking about a possible career as an interpreter there are several institutions that can provide helpful guidance and advice such as the Chartered Institute of Linguists, The Institute of Translation and Interpreting and the National Network for Interpreting to name but a few. Interpreting courses are usually offered at postgraduate level as it assumed that the student has studied languages during their undergraduate studies. A number of colleges offer courses in interpreting including, University of Bath – Department of European Studies & Modern Languages, University of Manchester- School of Arts, Languages and Cultures and University of Leeds- School of Modern Languages and Cultures.
As well as being challenging and rewarding, a career in interpreting can be quite stressful and often requires travelling abroad. Employers could be government bodies, international organisations and large multinational businesses. It is usually required that the interpreter is a native speaker of at least one language that they will be translating from and fluent in the other.
Professional interpreters also need to have good diction, be good at memorising content and also have a clear and understandable accent. Most work opportunities for interpreters is on a freelance basis although there are opportunities for full-time employment which usually involves working as an in-house interpreter for a language service provider, government body or multinational company.