Do you speak two languages? Perhaps you learned more than one as you were growing up? Maybe you did a study exchange that turned into a life spent out of your home country? If you did, you’re one of the 43% of the world’s population speaks a second language – that’s nearly 3.5 billion people!
We get lots of calls from people every day looking to put their amazing multi-lingual skills to the test and start a career as an interpreter. But how easy is it to interpret professionally and what does it take to make a full time job out of it? Moreover, what does it take to work at Lingua-World? Well, we can’t speak for every company and client in the world, but we can certainly let you know our favourite things and what we think makes you right for the job.
The UK does not have an official government recognised system for who qualifies as an interpreter. It is not a protected term, nor is it officially defined by any particular body or agency. Thus, anybody can state they are an interpreter without any qualifications whatsoever. In the absence of this, organisations have sprouted up with their own benchmarking procedure to become a qualified interpreter by their standards. Due to their now well established nature and reputability in the industry, the vast majority of our interpreters are already registered and verified by one of these companies. These include:
These organisations should be your go-to places to find the qualifications you need in order to be a top-level interpreter. The above examples are just a handful of the organisations that exist, and Lingua-World will always seek those who have achieved membership status over those who haven’t, as it ensures that we are always providing somebody already with very high base mark of qualifications. After we scout them down and bring them on board, we make use of our extensive database libraries, which categorise our interpreters into their experience, specialties and strengths, to ensure we match our clients to the perfect person for the job.
Most of these organisations require a minimum of Level 6 in Interpreting, which can be achieved with some courses in 6-12 months depending on previous experience and language fluency. We cannot recommend doing one of these enough.
A good interpreter is a seasoned interpreter. We prefer our colleagues to have at least 400 hours of proven interpreting work before they start interpreting with us, with an excellent and proven track record of previous clients.
Our interpreters are extremely skilled at what they do know their abilities to the core. For example: we have an interpreter who works primarily with Azerbaijani and Russian clients through her work in military intelligence, we have a French interpreter who is considered the top interpreter in the field of orthodontistry, and we have a Spanish interpreter who is your go to person for all things maternity law. These people know their stuff.
“But how do I get interpreting experience if I can’t interpret with you”, I hear you cry!
We admit, it’s tough, and a bit of a Catch 22 at that. If we were you though, we’d look down two avenues: education and volunteering.
Doing a training course in interpreting (i.e. community interpreting) will develop your skills and help you to kick start a portfolio. It’s a fantastic way to meet people already in the interpreting community, and you may be able to develop your skills on a freelance basis through this. These can be done at local community colleges and night schools and grants are often available to those who cannot afford the course costs.
Volunteering can be a fantastic way to get proven interpreting in an environment which doesn’t place as much emphasis on your skillset. For example, REAP in London are currently offering an Introductory Training for Community Interpreters course, their aim being that you then volunteer for the organisation. The need for volunteer interpreters within the charity industry is higher than ever, especially in larger cities. Aside from it being an extremely generous usage of your time, it’s also an invaluable way to build your skills as an interpreter.
Of course, once you have a few hundred hours under your belt (and time will fly), your portfolio will be breaking at the seams – you’ll be fighting off the clients!
We know what a difficult road it can be to get your foot in the door of the world of interpreting, and even more difficult to get those big jobs. Trust us – we work with interpreters every single day and we see how long and hard they have worked to get to the top.
Our humble advice to you? Get qualified, go back to school, and volunteer. It may take time, but if you’re serious about this industry, you need to invest everything in it.
If you are old-hat when it comes to interpreting and believe you’re qualified up to the eyeballs, we’d love to hear from you. We’re always looking for the brightest and best to join our ranks. Send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your CV.
Contact Lingua-World now for a precise and customised quote on all translation work.
Contact Lingua-World now for a precise and customised quote on all interpretation work.