Often, when asked what we do for a living, we interpreters come away with the feeling that few people actually know what our profession is about, and what our professional life looks like. So we’ve decided to use this blog to bring a little light to the ‘mystery’, and to share some basic aspects of our profession, through a list of 7 things that everyone should know about being an interpreter. Here goes!
Interpreting is a very demanding process, which requires good preparation, fast reflexes and excellent concentration skills.
- An interpreter is a lot more than just a person who simply speaks two languages well (the language from and the language into which they interpret). An interpreter’s job requires education and training on interpreting itself, as well as lifelong learning to update and expand one’s knowledge on a wealth of subjects.
- Interpreting is a very demanding process, which requires good preparation, fast reflexes and excellent concentration skills. Moreover, interpreters must work well under pressure and perform optimally under very stringent deadlines.
- Although interpreters are not required to have a particular specialization, they do, prior to providing their services, have to obtain a global and in-depth knowledge of the subject matter of the events they attend professionally (conferences, seminars, presentations, etc.). Therefore, if you don’t like studying, this job is probably not for you.
- The nature of the job is such that frequent travel is part of the routine. Despite the fact that the need for travel is not as high since the pandemic (thanks to the wonders of technology), a professional interpreter will often be required to travel to other cities or countries in order to provide their services.
- Interpreters are required to work in a huge variety of environments, and associate with a great many different people and social groups; therefore, good social skills are absolutely necessary. Interpreting for a prime minister is not the same as interpreting for a footballer, or a farmer, socially speaking.
- It is frequently said that no knowledge is useless. This is particularly true when applied to the interpreter’s profession. You never know when it will be useful to have basic meteorology skills, be familiar with embroidery or the types of snake that live in the Mediterranean. As a consequence, interpreters must always cultivate their encyclopaedic knowledge, read literally anything that falls into their hands, and follow the news as closely as possible.
- If you fear that you might get sick of doing the same job day in day out, then perhaps interpreting is just what the doctor ordered! An interpreter is truly never bored. They might work for a financial forum today, attend a summit meeting between two nations’ presidents tomorrow, attend a football coach’s press conference next week, and work at the tomato producers’ world conference next month. The scope is truly endless, with challenge upon interesting challenge!
An interpreter is a lot more than just a person who simply speaks two languages well (the language from and the language into which they interpret).
If you see at least something of yourself in the above descriptions, then maybe you should give interpreting some serious consideration. Maybe you’re meant to be an interpreter. Besides, no matter your age, it is never too late to pursue a new career…