Advice: setting up a telephone interpreting service
Thread poster: Alex Hughes

Alex Hughes  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:25
Spanish to English
+ ...
Jul 6, 2011

Hello all, I am a freelance translator that is trying to get established (as we all know that takes forever), and I work for the largest telephone interpreting company in the world(if that gives you a clue). I'm extremely fed up with uncaring management, being overworked, and being paid NOTHING.

So I'm wondering if you have any advice for setting up a small telephone interpreting service, just to make some extra money and stop working for the other place. Specifically, how to find clients , how to sell the service, and how to invoice.

Also, if you can reccomend any good agencies to work (which I don't know if you can on this forum) that would be awesome. Thanks in advance!


liz askew  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:25
Member (2007)
French to English
+ ...
Equipment for telephone interpreting Jul 6, 2011


My first question would be..what type of equipment would you need, i.e. technology? to connect with a) the client and b) the interpreter...

I also have an awful feeling that you would need to tender, particularly for government agencies.

On a small scale, you could start by contacting local health authorities...

Liz Askew

competition clause Jul 12, 2011

Telephone Interpreting companies know that we will get tired of them quickly, therefore, they make us sign a non-competing agreement when we are employed by them. So you would have to make a list of all the clients the company you work for has and rule them out for at least a year I believe.

I have a friend that gets calls from insurance and healtcare industries to her cellphone, this is through agencies though. I just sent her a text requesting the information, if I get anything I'll post it here.

I would call or visit my local insurance office, clinic, real estate office and offer my services over the phone. Starting local will make this more manageable and you'll get an idea about really wanting to do this on your own.

If you want to start on a larger scale, you definetly need to get more than 1 interpreter on board. You don't want clients calling and being on hold or not able to get help because you are busy. A group of friends and I were talking about setting up our own agency a few years ago while going to interpreting school but it never became a reality.

There's a few links at our forum for telephone interpreting companies. I believe one is an agency which allows you to work for them as an independent instead of an employee so that might be something that might work better for you.

Feel free to use the forums to your advantage, you can post your information on there, write articles, etc...we're still pretty new but hope to grow. If there's anything you can think of as far as the forum being able to help you out, please let us know and we will see what we can do.

Good Luck!


Alex Hughes  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:25
Spanish to English
+ ...
Thank you for the help Jul 12, 2011

I appreciate the advice from both of you, it's nice to have a little support group in the forums.

My thought was to stay local and work with insurance agents, lawyers, real estate agents, chiropractors etc... It would be onsite, over the phone, and translation.

As far as technology is concerned, I'm considering buying three local numbers through skype or google voice. Clients would be able to see who's is available through skype or google voice, or they could attempt to just call in.

I would like to keep it just to myself though, but that's the plan if I need to expand.

3i Jul 13, 2011

I'm not really familiar with google voice or skype, technology is great, but remember that clients usually prefer simplicity. If you're using VOiP, remember that you can't trust it yet as you can a regular old telephone line, so if you're working from home, it might be better to just have 2 or 3 lines with a good multi-line phone and a comfortable/quality headset. You can always just forward calls to your cellphone when you're not home. Remember to deduct all these expenses on your taxes! LOL.

I got a text back from my friend, here's a link to the agency that she gets some of those calls from.

good luck!


Link Jul 20, 2011

Hi AlexHughes, refer to the following link, its a very informative newsletter and if you sign up for their monthly e-mails you get a free e-book which is about telephone interpreting.

The e-book should help you out with a lot of questions you may have about telephone interpreting.


[Edited at 2011-07-20 20:24 GMT]


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Advice: setting up a telephone interpreting service

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