Interpreting in the UK - conditions and opportunities
Thread poster: Hannah D

Hannah D  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:31
French to English
+ ...
May 19, 2015

Hello everyone,

I need your advice.

I'm a translator in the UK considering trying for the DPSI and moving over to interpreting, particularly community/police/public sector interpreting in London.

I contacted one of the big national associations for some advice and they got back to me saying that current market conditions mean it is not a good idea to be considering this as an option, as the government has been outsourcing interpreting work making it very difficult to get a foot in the door.

Has this been your experience?

My second question concerns my language combination: not a very glamorous or exotic one (French > English). Does anyone know what demand is like for this pair? Are there opportunities in the sectors I'm interested in working in or would I have to be content with the business world?

I'm considering moving to Paris if it meant better interpreting options, but it would be nice to stick around here.

It would be great to hear your thoughts on this!


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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:31
Chinese to English
Admire your public spirit, but... May 19, 2015

The money's in business. If you want to give a bit back to the community, then do some DPSI work on the side, but you might as well make a living first. There are French businesses who need interpreters, and will treat them very nicely. The few French criminals in London probably just aren't as nice to be around.

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xxxDr Howard Ca  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:31
Italian to English
+ ...
Interpreting in the UK May 19, 2015

Hallo, I read your posting with interest - some years ago my wife and I moved to The Netherlands, mostly (but not exclusively) because of work! My wife is a lecturer and I interpret and translate for the EU, as well as within the Dutch healthcare system and Authority (Nederlandse Zorgautoriteit, NZa) amongst other things. I felt that in the UK, the NHS couldn't decide if it wanted quality of provision or cheapness - some of the outsourced provision had to be heard to be believed! I maintain translation work AND interpreting work, recognising that two very different but complementary processes are occurring - I have found that I can earn enough to live quite easily, but in my humble opinion, the specialism is the key. Given the nature of society in general at the moment, 'legal' appears to be a growing area of demand (!) and despite the debacle in recent years over the outsourcing of interpreting work from the courts and the police in the UK, local lists are still maintained for interpreters and once 'your face is known', provided you don't mess up, more work inevitably follows, albeit often at 'silly o'clock' in the morning! I try to maintain a balance between paid work and pro bono work and I have found that on occasion, pro bono work has led to more paid work, in addition to the sense of having helped others, which is above price. I can't offer comment on your language combinations as I don't share them, but London in particular is most certainly linguistically diverse. Camm.

[Bijgewerkt op 2015-05-19 14:31 GMT]

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Ania Heasley  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:31
English to Polish
+ ...
Current market Jun 18, 2015

I contacted one of the big national associations

Could you be more specific? I am curious what do you mean?

Court interpreting is dominated by Capita (not sure whether we are meant to use company names, but it's hardly a secret who provides interpreters to UK courts), please visit their website for payment terms.

Other public interpreting is shared between thebigword and Language Line Solutions (LLS).
They share the public sector market in telephone interpreting, thebigword having cornered HMRC, DWP, a few (very few) police forces, including the Channel Islands, and a few NHS areas.
LLS serves the majority of police forces, majority of NHS, ACAS, various housing associations and various social work-charity organisations clients.

Both thebigword and LLS also have public sector f2f clients.

On the other side of the equation we have the NRPSI, please check their website, you will realise who they are, who they claim to be etc.

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