How to Kickstart Your Career as an Interpreter
7 May 2023Are you fascinated by languages and cultures? Do you have a natural talent for communication and an aptitude for interpreting? If so, a career as an interpreter may be the perfect choice for you.
As an interpreter, you will be responsible for facilitating communication between people who speak different languages. You may work in a variety of settings, such as business meetings, courtrooms, hospitals, or international conferences. Interpreting can be an exciting and rewarding career, but it also requires dedication, hard work, and a commitment to ongoing learning. Here are some tips on how to kickstart your career as an interpreter:
1. Develop strong language skills
The foundation of any interpreting career is strong language skills. You should be fluent in at least two languages and have an excellent grasp of grammar, vocabulary, and idiomatic expressions. If you're not already fluent in a second language, consider enrolling in language classes or finding a language partner to practice with.
In addition to your second language, it's also helpful to have a third language, particularly if you plan to work in international settings. Many interpreters also specialize in a particular subject area, such as legal, medical, or technical interpreting, so it's important to have a solid understanding of the terminology and concepts relevant to your chosen field.
2. Get formal training
While fluency in multiple languages is a must for interpreters, it's not enough to be a good interpreter. Interpreting is a complex skill that requires training and practice to master. There are many interpreting programs available, ranging from certificate programs to master's degrees, and choosing the right one depends on your career goals and interests.
Certificate programs typically provide a basic introduction to interpreting and are a good option if you're just starting out. If you're interested in more advanced training, consider a bachelor's or master's degree in interpreting or translation. These programs offer a more in-depth look at interpreting theory and practice and often include opportunities for hands-on experience.
3. Build your professional network
Networking is essential in any profession, and interpreting is no exception. Attend conferences and events in your area to meet other interpreters and learn about new developments in the field. Join professional organizations such as the International Association of Conference Interpreters (AIIC) or the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators (NAJIT) to connect with other professionals and access resources and training opportunities.
It's also helpful to build relationships with agencies and clients who may need your services. Reach out to translation and interpretation agencies in your area and introduce yourself. Build a strong online presence by creating a professional website and social media profiles, and share your expertise by publishing articles or giving presentations at industry events.
4. Practice, practice, practice
Interpreting is a skill that requires practice to develop and maintain. Look for opportunities to practice your interpreting skills, such as volunteering at local community events or offering your services to friends and family members who speak different languages.
It's also helpful to practice interpreting in a variety of settings, such as legal, medical, and business contexts. Consider taking on pro bono or low-paying interpreting assignments to gain experience and build your portfolio. Seek feedback from other interpreters or clients to identify areas for improvement and focus on developing your weaknesses.
5. Stay up-to-date with technology
Advances in technology have transformed the interpreting industry in recent years. Video conferencing, remote interpreting, and machine translation are just a few of the tools that interpreters may use to facilitate communication.
It's important to stay up-to-date with the latest technology and understand how it can be used to enhance your interpreting services. Attend training sessions or webinars on new technology and experiment with different tools to find the ones that work best for you.
6. Be professional and reliable
As an interpreter, you will often be working with clients who depend on you to facilitate communication effectively. Therefore, it's essential to be professional and reliable at all times. Arrive early to appointments, dress appropriately, and communicate clearly with your clients. Respect confidentiality and cultural differences, and always strive to provide high-quality service.
Becoming an interpreter requires dedication, hard work, and ongoing learning. However, if you have a passion for languages and communication, it can be an incredibly rewarding career. By developing strong language skills, getting formal training, building your professional network, practicing regularly, staying up-to-date with technology, and being professional and reliable, you can kickstart your career as an interpreter and take advantage of the many opportunities this field has to offer. Remember to stay committed to your ongoing learning and development to become the best interpreter you can be. Good luck!