How to Become an Interpreter

Interpreters are considered to be the window to the worlds’ different languages and dialects. An interpreter is defined as an individual who facilitates oral as well as sign language communication between two users of different languages. To become an interpreter, all you need is in-depth active and passive knowledge about the language.

Basic Educational Expectations

Professional interpreters need to graduate in the particular language they wish to opt for in the profession. The American Translators Association (ATA) approved courses often help in bagging a lucrative career. A certified interpreter is one who is proficient in understanding the conversational aspect of the language. Functionally, interpreters are expected to convert a thought or expression of a source language into an expression with meaning within a stipulated amount of time.

Interpreters have to be trustworthy because they need to convey every inch of expression and intention to the target language recipients. In the United States, there are regulatory bodies like ATA, American Literary Translators Association (ALTA), and others who train and hire interpreters. Languages such as French, Spanish, Japanese and many others are used in the global business arena. Interpreters for business-oriented languages are usually in high demand. Additional knowledge of other languages is an added advantage.


Depending on the state where you have studied or worked, you need to have a university degree in the specific language. In some cases, a post graduation degree is also required. You need to grasp the nuances of the language especially the active part in order to reproduce the original speech in the target language.

Keeping in mind the subject, level of technical intensity and style, an interpreter needs to maintain the trust of both the parties. ATA is acknowledged globally for reasons that are completely professional to the core. The interpreters need to possess the ability to analyze the correct information and reproduce the meaning. The re-expression factor needs intense concentration. A degree would not just help in getting hired but intuition and broader knowledge of vocabulary is a must.

Things to Know

Try to apply for summer job before heading towards professional organizations. A little bit of practice at the summer job would brush up your skills. Besides, an interpreter is expected to possess a high level of intellectual curiosity. It would also help the interpreters in following the speakers without much difficulty. A fair amount of tact and diplomacy is expected out of the interpreters in order to avoid sticky situations. Another most important aspect is pleasant voice and public speaking skills. A lively interpreter is always appreciated for grasping the listener’s attention.

The hiring of interpreters is no longer limited to embassies and international conferences. The appointments have gone up especially with the global market’s expansion. For instance, legal interpreters are the most sought after people. They are usually hired in the legal courts when the hearing takes place between two different language users. In the U.S courts, the right to have an interpreter has been accepted. In case of the medical interpreters, the interpreters interpret the patient and doctor’s diagnosis. This portfolio particularly has blossomed amazingly due to medical tourism scenario. Escort and sign language interpreters are also sought after whenever the foreign delegation is on a visit.