Guidance to Interpreting
Thread poster: Lisa Böhm

Lisa Böhm
Local time: 16:11
English to German
+ ...
Apr 29, 2015

Hi everybody

I have just come across this forum, read in some posts and found them very helpful. This is the first time I post in a forum, so here it goes.

I am currently studying Linguistics and Applied Languages in my second year in university (in a 4 year programme). I've become interested (again) in interpreting and translating and after searching over the past weeks, I've got some questions coming up.

To clarify my history with languages, I am native German with a bilingual level of English. (Am teaching it at the moment with a TEFL qualification). I am studying in Spanish and my level's probably around C1 in the Common European Reference Frame. Additionally, trying to get somewhere with French (currently on a B2 level) and also having Russian lessons at school (have to admit that even though I love the classes, I'm still moving around an A2 level only).

Interpreting and translating has been one of my first career wishes / dreams I've had, even as a child I found the idea immensely interesting. However, after hearing lots of comments along the lines of "you're not native bilingual, you'll never have a chance" and "interpreting is not a *real* job", I talked myself into forgetting the idea.

Now recently I have stumbled across the official EU page and have since then kinda turned crazy for it again. Here are my ideas:

1) Most of all, I would be interested in Conference Interpreting. I realize that this would involve simultaneous interpreting, and the thought enlightens and scares me at the same time. I have no problem translating a short conversation or radio programme in real time from German to English or vice versa. However, having read quite a few big warning posts all over the internet and knowing how tiring this can be, I am awed by it as well and not sure whether mentally it is do-able.

2) I wouldn't mind translating either, think it is rather interesting as well, but it seems to me that there are a lot more people on the market? Or is it just that interpreters usually complement their work with translating?

3) I am looking into master programmes here in Europe at the moment, and have found one programme called EMCI (European Master in Conference Interpreting), which seems to be accredited by the EU, however fail to recognize a real difference between this programme and other similar programmes.
Has any of you heard about these programmes?

4) My language combination I guess would be A-Ger, A/B-Engl, B-Span and C-French. On the EU webpage they give you a few languages which are very sought after at the moment, and I have been wondering whether it would be worth it or improving my eligibility if I invested in another one. (Perhaps Dansk or Swedish which are related to German and English?)

5) I realize from reading a bit around here that most interpreters/ translators work as freelancers. My boyfriend currently is working as a freelance English teacher here in Spain, and it seems to go rather well for him. I wonder whether it is due to the high demand of English classes right now or thanks to good planning and marketing? Is it comparable to interpreting?

6) I indulge in the idea of working for the EU. Nevertheless, I am not sure I would be able / willing to move to Brussels or Strasbourg, since a) I've never had any intentions of moving there, b) I've been in a stable and important relationship for some years now and can't see my boyfriend moving there (he's an English native and not very keen on languages). So I guess my question here is, are there any interpreters around here in Madrid who know about the market situation?

7) Most importantely. I have so far never shown a real love for economics, medicin or law - which I understand to be the most important topics in this area. (or perhaps the only ones?) I would be willing to study hard and get knowledge in one of these areas, but not sure how (apart from devouring the newspapers) and whether it would be enought to make it into university and later into the EU (hihi) or another organisation.

So.... I think this is it for the moment. Thank you all for reading through it, any advice, comments, ideas or thoughts are very welcome!


[Edited at 2015-04-30 06:01 GMT]


ATIL KAYHAN  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:11
Member (2007)
Turkish to English
+ ...
Translating > Interpreting May 2, 2015

L-Cat wrote:

2) I wouldn't mind translating either, think it is rather interesting as well, but it seems to me that there are a lot more people on the market? Or is it just that interpreters usually complement their work with translating?


[Edited at 2015-04-30 06:01 GMT]

Dear Cathy,

Unfortunately, I cannot address all of your concerns simply because there are so many of them, which is actually very good. I think it is good that you shared them with us.

I started my freelance career as a TR-EN translator several years ago. I do not know how much translating I have done through the years. Then, it started to become a routine (i.e. boring) job, and I needed a change. That is when I started to look into interpreting (consecutive) jobs. I can say I am pretty new to interpreting now. The last job I had was a couple of weeks ago. I can safely say that I enjoy interpreting more than I did translating. If and when I gain enough experience in consecutive interpreting, I would like to go into simultaneous interpreting, which I have no experience so far. I think a normal evolution of translation and interpretation career is probably somewhere along these lines.

Yes, there are a lot more people translating than interpreting on the market. That is why the rates translators charge are much lower than what they normally should be. By the way, you can check out ProZ Community Rates under the Tools menu if you would like to get an idea. In Turkey, for example, a typical translator's rate is simply too low to make a living on. The main reason is that there are way too many translators out there, most of them not qualified to do a decent job. That is another reason I wanted to get into interpreting. I hope I can see the days that I am into simultaneous interpretation as well.

My recommendation is that you make a slow start, and start with translation. It is not difficult to get translation jobs through ProZ job ads. Before you do that, however, be sure to check out the Community Rates. After some time (which all depends on you), you can move into interpreting if you think you need a change. And from there, you can move into simultaneous interpretation, which, by the way, scares me as well as you. I believe each step on the way is a huge experience. That is why each step should be savored with patience. I wish you the best of luck with your journey.


Diana Coada  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:11
Portuguese to English
+ ...
A better place May 5, 2015

to ask for advice from experienced conference interpreters would be here:

There's a wealth of useful information there. Good luckicon_smile.gif


Lisa Böhm
Local time: 16:11
English to German
+ ...
Thank you May 7, 2015

Thank you, Atil, for your kind post. It was very interesting to hear about your perspective and your journey so far.


My recommendation is that you make a slow start, and start with translation. It is not difficult to get translation jobs through ProZ job ads.

I think, if I am to do translation jobs, I would rather do it as a second income to interpreting rather than mainly. This is why I'm looking to get into an interpreting master as well. However, I will have a look into the ProZ job page, thanks for pointing it out.

Thanks for the tip! I've already had a look on as well, but I came across this page first and thought I'd try to gather information everywhere I could.icon_wink.gif



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