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¿Is age an obstacle for getting interpreting jobs?
Thread poster: gracemex

gracemex  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 19:54
English to Spanish
+ ...
Aug 27, 2010

Hello everybody ¡

I really would like to hear opinions about this topic.
At my forties I’m in a stage of life where I know I can do a good job as an interpreter because I’ve been preparing myself, and had studied a 1 year course of English/Spanish-Spanish/English interpreting training in a special institute, Besides, I’ve been a trainer too (regarding other topics) so I’m used to talk to people. However I confess that I’ve had very few professional experiences as an interpreter (have made some consecutive and whispering interpretation in some of my jobs in transnational companies, mostly: meetings, presentations, foreigner executives support/escort) but not really been hired by agencies.

My goal is to get much more preparation, to take more courses, and increase my experience (specially in simultaneous/booth) and of course to work and have incomes constantly, but honestly sometimes I wonder: ¿Am I too old for it? Unfortunately in my country after 35 is more difficult to find a steady job (even related to my first career which is admin/finances) so, that’s another reason for being a freelancer.

As I said I consider Interpreting as an exciting and interesting career.
Of course, it’s a matter of culture (in every country), but in general terms: Is age an obstacle?
What do you think? Is interpreting mostly a job for young people recently graduated from school? Do agencies still require mature professionals in this field?

Thanks a lot for reading and for sharing your point of view / experiences
Greetings from México
Grace


 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 02:54
German to Serbian
+ ...
Discrimination? Aug 27, 2010

When I saw the title, I expected a person in their 70ies, not 40ies.

Not at all, being in 40ies is not a problem, as long as you have a good general health condition. I don't understand why they would be hiring younger people with less experience. Please clarify.

Although, when I think back, we had just a few interpreters above 50 when I worked in-house. But it wasn't booth-interpreting, it required a lot of physical movement all day long, so it's understandable. They can't take any risks of interpreter losing their breath from too much walking or moving from one meeting to another.


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:54
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Old? Aug 27, 2010

But you are very young indeed!

Just forget about it, keep preparing, and keep offering your services. Interpretation requires knowledge, and knowledge takes time. You are not old at all to pursue a successful career as an interpreter! Intepretation is a tricky job however (I would not dream of doing it myself; I am a translator), so the better you can prepare for it and the more practice you can get, the better.


 

Chiara Cherubini  Identity Verified
Germany
German to Italian
+ ...
Age is actually a plus Aug 27, 2010

Hi Grace,

I am a young interpreter living in Germany, I graduated two years ago and I can tell you that here in Europe age is definitely a plus for an interpreter! My problem in getting jobs is mostly the opposite: my age can be an obstacle, since I can´t have the same experience an older collegue has. Even if of course it is not just a question of age: a good young interpreter might garantee the same professional performance as an older collegue.

My advice: just go for it and keep on learning and trying (as I am doing as well!). I can tell you the positive experience of a former teacher of mine: she started with interpreting around the age of 40 and she is now working for the EU!

Good luck!

Chiara


 

Mariella Bonelli  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:54
Member (2004)
English to Italian
+ ...
Less jobs Aug 27, 2010

Hi Grace,

Beyond what all the other colleagues said, according to my experience it is difficult to earn a living just working as a freelance interpreter. I am supposed to work both as translator and as interpreter, but interpreting jobs are far more difficult to get than translation jobs, above all because there are less for freelancers.

Learning and training is important, as well as taking care of self-promotion I think. Good luck!


 

Susanna Garcia  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:54
Italian to English
+ ...
Age not an obstacle Aug 27, 2010

I've given up being coy and freely admit to being 56 - I don't care and neither do my clients. I have no problems with getting interpreting work, or translation work for that matter.
I did an MA in Translation with Language Technology at the age of 52, did the course full-time while full-time teaching too and in charge of the French and Italian sections, by judicious timetable juggling admittedly and got as good as, if not better, grades than students many years younger than myself. I was at Swansea Uni the same time as my son, which was a little weird.
I then went fully free lance three years ago and haven't looked back or regretted my decision.

So, no, I personally have not found age an obstacle......and yes, I still have all my own teeth!


 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 02:54
German to Serbian
+ ...
Anda a great sense of humor. Aug 27, 2010

Susanna Garcia wrote:

So, no, I personally have not found age an obstacle......and yes, I still have all my own teeth!


You always make me laugh on the message boards. lol


 

david.italy
Italy
Local time: 02:54
English to Italian
+ ...
don't worry Aug 27, 2010

Don't worry, age is never a problem. The question is always one : money! They only want to know how much is your rate (agencies or private), but they don't care how old are you. Trust me.

 

Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:54
English to Spanish
+ ...
An Advantage Aug 27, 2010

I have always found that age is an advantage in our profession(s), both interpreting and translation. Ours is a business that requires vast, encyclopedic knowledge that it takes years to achieve, so the older the better until Alzheimer's sets in.

You're much too young!


 

Chiara Cherubini  Identity Verified
Germany
German to Italian
+ ...
money is not all Aug 27, 2010

Well, I agree with david.italy that age is not a problem, but I really hope outsourcers/customers do not just look at rates when choosing an interpreter, but also at qualifications and experience!

Chiara


 

liviu roth
United States
Local time: 20:54
Romanian to English
+ ...
over 50 loosing your breath? Aug 27, 2010

C'mmon Lingua 5 B !
I am 58, been interpreting for 15 years and last weekend I finished a triathlon (swimming,bike and run) ahead of 400 younger men ... it is not the age !
At 40 you are just a kidicon_smile.gif Did you try other fields, like medical, legal (Courts,Police), tourism?


 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 02:54
German to Serbian
+ ...
:D Aug 27, 2010

lee roth wrote:

C'mmon Lingua 5 B !
I am 58, been interpreting for 15 years and last weekend I finished a triathlon (swimming,bike and run) ahead of 400 younger men ... it is not the age !
At 40 you are just a kidicon_smile.gif Did you try other fields, like medical, legal (Courts,Police), tourism?


Sure, sure.. I met some incredible skiing instructors on the slopes in their 70ies, so it's surely possible.

The age is definitely an advantage, because it implies more experience. I am not the one who had chosen interpreters at my former workplace. The case may be that we had a less number of interpreters older than 50, because there was simply a bigger number of younger applicants.


 

Susanna Garcia  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:54
Italian to English
+ ...
Age - possible new thread? Aug 27, 2010

So, I'm 56, Lee is 58 - any advance on 58? Who is the oldest male/female freelancer on Proz? Just please let it not be me!
Suzi


 

gracemex  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 19:54
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
VERY INTERESTING COMMENTS¡¡¡ Aug 27, 2010

Hey there Friends ¡¡¡
I'm back (sorry ¡).

Wow ¡ Thanks a lot for all your responses , I really thank YOU ALL.
Each and every opinion and experience is a great encouragement for keeping up with this activity.

Yes I know that being mature is an asset in this kind of profession (of course without underestimating the very good work done by talented and dedicated young people I've met)...Honestly I'm not a very experienced interpreter becoming mature...the thing is that I´m starting in the interpreting service (I've been more a translator)

However: FOR SURE now, all your comments, suggestions and experiences make me feel energetic enough to go on preparing myself ,studying,practicing in different fields , in order to get more interpreting jobs (not very easy but possible) without thinking that age is an issue.

All further stories/opinions are still welcome¡¡
¡Gracias Amigos¡
Grace.
(40's,50's,60's,70's and more are great ages,ok?icon_smile.gif)

MEXICO , EN EL AÑO DEL BICENTENARIO DE SU INDEPENDENCIA


 

Alexandra Goldburt
Local time: 17:54
English to Russian
+ ...
Age discrimination is the very reason to be an interpreter Aug 28, 2010

In other professions, age discrimination is a sad fact of life. In my opinion, it's shameful and disgraceful for a potential employer/client to reject an applicant over 50, simply for being over 50 and for no other reason. Yet, shameful as it is, it exists and little can be done about it.

But here comes the beauty of the interpreting profession: age discrimination does not apply to us! I do not worry about loosing my clients when I grow older, and I know of no interpreter who does. In fact, I personally know many interpreters in their 50s, 60s and 70s, and once I even man a Spanish interpreter who was over 90 - and all of them are in great demand.

Perhaps it is difficult to start the interpreting career when you are in you "golden age". The beauty of your situation is: you are still young (yes you are!), and by the time you reach a "golden age", you will have a lot of experience.

"All glory comes from daring to begin" - Eugene F. Ware.

Begin today, and good luck!


 
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