Professions of interpreters and translators are often dealt under the same category though both are two distinct professions. Interpreters deal with spoken words while translators deal with the written words.
So in other words, both are language experts. They relay concepts and ideas from one language to another by converting source language or foreign language into target language or native language.
An aspiring interpreter or translator must have at least a bachelor’s degree in languages and linguistics or any of the related subjects. However, a candidate with a degree in translation studies is preferred by most of the large organizations. A certification in translation either from the American Translators Association or from the Translators and Interpreters Guild is added advantage for career aspirants in the field of translation and interpretation. Aspiring court interpreters may have their certification from the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators. Aspiring sign interpreters can have their certification from the National Association of the Deaf and the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf.
Tests for Interpreters
The U.S. Department of State conducts three interpretation tests for eligible candidates. These tests include consecutive interpreting test for aspiring escort interpreters, simultaneous interpreting test for aspiring court interpreters, and conference-level interpreting test for aspiring international conference interpreters.
A skilled translator or interpreter must have fluency in at least two foreign languages. He must have good English language skills also. He must know latest techniques of media production, communication technology, and information dissemination. He must have good skills in written expression, selective attention, memorization, and auditory attention. A career in interpretation and translation required the candidate to have high degrees of concentration and listening skills along with speech clarity and speech recognition skills. He must have a pleasant but audible voice with right voice modulation ability.
Major Career Tracks Available for Interpreters
Mainly two types of interpretation services are offered in the market. These are simultaneous interpretation and consecutive interpretation. Simultaneous interpreters are employed for large gatherings such as in conferences, business meetings and assemblies. Consecutive interpreters are employed for small groups, mostly for person to person meetings.
Simultaneous interpreters are those who interpret the speech of the speaker simultaneously while the speaker is still speaking. This type of interpretation requires high degree of concentration from the interpreter’s side. Simultaneous interpreters are normally employed in international conferences and courts.
Consecutive interpreters begin their interpretation only after the speaker has spoken a sentence or completed a short speech. They are mostly employed for person to person meetings.
Simultaneous interpretation has many variations such as sign language interpretation, conference interpretation, and court interpretation. Escort interpretation is one type of consecutive interpretation. Sometimes consecutive interpretation is also used in small conferences where attendees are less and speech is short.
Sign Language Interpreters
When an interpretation is done simultaneously in sign language, it is called sign language interpretation. An interpreter who has specialized skills in sign language is known as a sign language interpreter. Sign language interpreters are generally required for facilitating communication among deaf people.
Conference interpreters are those professional interpreters who are employed for the simultaneous interpretation in the large conferences and international business meetings. Only high skilled interpreters are preferred as conference interpreters where they sometimes may need to interpret one or two foreign languages into the native language, for example, interpretation of French and German languages into the English language.
Guide or Escort Interpreters
Guide or escort interpreters are professional interpreters that normally accompany high profile visitors or diplomats during their foreign travels. Their interpretation is usually a variation of consecutive interpretation.
Judiciary or Court Interpreters
Judiciary interpreters work in a wide variety of judiciary settings such as court hearings and trials and attorney-client meetings.
Self-employed and freelance interpreters
Self-employed and freelance interpreters offer their services on part time or freelance basis. Generally freelance interpreters are paid on hourly basis.
Major Career Tracks Available for Translators
Major career tracks available for translators are as judiciary translators, literary translators, localization translators and as medical translators.
Judiciary translators translate written legal documents from one language to another language. This is normally done at the time of court hearings or trials itself and hence known as sight translation.
Literary translators generally work for universities and publications houses for translating literary works from the foreign language into the native language.
Localization translators are a group of specialist translators where they completely transform a foreign product or service adaptable to a new place or culture through localized translation.
Medical translators or healthcare translators
Medical translators work in the health care sector by providing their translation services to the medical professionals and foreign patients.
Self-employed and freelance translators
Self-employed and freelance translators run their own enterprise offering translation services on contractual or part time basis.
Interpreters and translators work in a wide variety of settings such as in courts, publishing houses, business meetings, hospitals, and conferences. Sometimes they need to escort high profile clients during their business travels. As a standard, an interpreter or translator needs to work 40 hours per week if they are permanently employed with large organizations. But most of times, this working hours may exceed beyond 40 hours per week depending on the nature of the work and client involved. If the work nature is concerned, sometimes the profession of translation and interpretation may become exhausting and too demanding. Work schedule may become erratic especially during escorts.
Interpreters and translators are employed by both public and private academic institutions, such as schools and colleges, and universities. They are also absorbed by health care industry and hospitals; courts; publishing companies; and translation companies.
Future Demand for Translators and Interpreters
Future of skilled translators and interpreters look brighter with the anticipated high demand for the professionals in the languages of Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese, Korean, French, Italian, German, Spanish and Arabic.
On an average the hourly remuneration of a skilled interpreter or translator is in the range of $15 to $ 30 per hour depending on the quality of the services offered.