Getting into translation and then transferring to interpretation
Thread poster: RowanF

United States
Local time: 22:21
French to English
Jul 10, 2014

Hey there,

I'm someone looking to get into the translation industry and have already posted several topics here. Thanks for much for all your guys' useful advice, I still have a few questions though, one of which I wanted to address in this thread.

I've always wanted to be an interpreter, but translating appeals to me. My idea right now is to find a place in the freelance translation market while I finish my degree, (which I am hoping to finish in my target language country after transferring). My question is if becoming established in translation facilitates entrance into interpretation? Would the transition be relatively seamless or not so much?


Phil Hand  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:21
Chinese to English
Surprisingly different skill sets Jul 10, 2014

I would not recommend translation as good preparation for interpreting. I find them to be surprisingly different in many ways, and in fact the slow, reflective way I do translation actually seems to harm my interpreting!
As well as the skills issue, they are basically two different markets. Just think of the physical logistics: translation is often done online, with no face-to-face meetings. For interpreting you have to be in the room. That means that the supply chains are very different, so having a good reputation as a translator doesn't necessarily transfer across.
I should say as well that the two jobs feel very different. Interpreting feels more social; translating often feels very isolated indeed. If you think you're the kind of person who would enjoy interpreting, there is actually a reasonable chance that you won't like being a translator.

So my recommendation is, if interpreting is what you want to do, then focus on that. Get the training now. Many interpreters can and do make some money on the side doing a bit of translation, but don't imagine that the translation will help your interpreting career.


LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:21
Russian to English
+ ...
Hi. It is not. These are quite different skills. Jul 10, 2014

I think it might be easier for an interpreter to become a translator, once they work on their writing style than the other way around. Interpreting requires almost the same fluency ( in spoken language) in both languages. It also requires many other skills, not related directly to translation, such as: public speaking, diction, alertness, trained memory, the ability not to panic, and many others

Everything is possible, though--if you like interpreting perhaps you should start your training. It takes a few years to get used to the methods--like two perhaps (once you fully mastered both languages). You can do it on your own--you don't even have to go to school. It just requires hours of working with spoken language--trying to interpret the news and other TV programs, and recording everything on a tape so you can listen to it later. Once your interpreting is quite accurate, you can start working on your speed. About 175 words/min for English.

[Edited at 2014-07-10 10:38 GMT]


United States
Local time: 22:21
French to English
Question answered Jul 14, 2014

Thank you for the clear answers.icon_smile.gif


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:

You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Getting into translation and then transferring to interpretation

Advanced search

BaccS – Business Accounting Software
Modern desktop project management for freelance translators

BaccS makes it easy for translators to manage their projects, schedule tasks, create invoices, and view highly customizable reports. User-friendly, integration, community-driven development – a few reasons BaccS is trusted by translators!

More info »
Déjà Vu X3
Try it, Love it

Find out why Déjà Vu is today the most flexible, customizable and user-friendly tool on the market. See the brand new features in action: *Completely redesigned user interface *Live Preview *Inline spell checking *Inline

More info »

  • All of
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search