Starting out as an interpreter
Thread poster: translatorwow
translatorwow  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:24
Spanish to English
+ ...
Dec 9, 2016

Hi there,

I have posted the below in the 'Getting started' section of these forums but have been advised it would be better suited here:

I would like some advice at starting out as an interpreter. Just some background information about me: I'm an English native speaker and am 31 years old. I graduated with a 1st class honours in Spanish and Italian in 2008 in the UK (including an Erasmus year in Spain during the third year of my degree) and then did a MA in Translation and Interpreting in Spain the following year. Since then (2009) I have used these languages, as well as French, in several jobs, namely in customer service, technical support and most recently in banking. However, as you can imagine, the fields I have just mentioned do not interest me in themselves, and the main reason I have done these jobs is to use the languages I know. I still don't feel fulfilled professionally, and my dream is to become an interpreter. During my MA, I realised I was stronger in simultaneous interpreting than consecutive interpreting and in the final exam I had to do (from English-Spanish, so from what would be my 'A' language to my 'B' language) I did better in simultaneous interpreting than consecutive interpreting. Unfortunately I was not able to interpret from Spanish (B language) into English (A language) whilst I was doing my MA so I have never been able to practice this. I would really like some pointers from interpreters as to whether my age is a problem and whether I can still fulfill my dream.

I live in the UK, and earlier on this year I managed to obtain the C2 DELE in Spanish. My partner is also Spanish so we mainly speak Spanish at home so Spanish is certainly the language I feel most at ease in after English. However, for the other languages I do not have any official certificates, apart from my degree and my A-Level in French (I consider my level in French to be much higher than this qualification due to my own self-study and the fact I have used the language in a work environment for several years). I did do a level test in Italian following the CEFR scale when I was on Erasmus (10 years ago) and I got a B2, however, I consider my level to be higher than this. I also have an intermediate level of Catalan and a basic/intermediate knowledge of German, both of which I would like to improve. I also dabbled in Polish a few years ago, but have left that where it is!

I am also conscious of the fact that I was not completely satisfied with my MA course as there were subjects I chose as well as those which were compulsory which were also taught to degree level students at the university I attended as well as to MA students, but I do not have the finances to fund another MA. I have always aspired at trying to become an interpreter at the EU, but have seen they only have competitions every 3 years and have never found one for English native speakers.

From my research, I have seen there are two routes into interpreting in the UK: taking a Level 3 qualification in community interpreting or DPSI, which I understand to be a more advanced qualification and not for budding interpreters. However, I have also seen that a course for level 3 community interpreting is £635, which is extremely expensive and there is of course no guarantee of any work even after completing this course and the relevant exam.

So, to summarise:

1. Is it still possible for me to become a simultaneous interpreter despite my age?

2. I am assuming my language combination would be: English (native language) (A), Spanish (B), Italian (C) and French (C)

3. Do I need to obtain a CEFR C2 certificate in both French and Italian to complement my C2 in Spanish in order to be able to become an professional interpreter?

4. How can I keep my costs to a minimum and what training will I need to invest in to become a professional interpreter?

5. How do I go about getting contacts to make the transition into the interpreting field more straightforward than what it seems to me at the moment?

I would be extremely grateful for any advice from any interpreters, even though I am sure there have been lots of threads about this on this forum in the past, because everything seems like a big minefield at the moment and I am determined not to let any more time slip past without fulfilling this ambition.

Many thanks in advance for your help and I look forward to reading your comments.


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translatorwow  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:24
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Help Dec 10, 2016

Is there anyone here who can help me?

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Post removed: This post was hidden by a moderator or staff member because it was not in line with site rule

Mariana Lantzet
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:24
English to Hebrew
+ ...
Interpreting UK Dec 11, 2016

There are hundreds of agencies in the UK. U need to systematically register with as many as possible - and with your present qualifications, work will start to come your way. It will be fragmented, (and that is forever....), and you will have to learn how to fill up your schedule to your best advantage, being conscious that you must build up a reputation of reliability. Age is not an issue. I suggest that at this point u wait till after the festive season.

Best of luck


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Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:24
French to English
Getting into interpreting Dec 11, 2016

Hello TW,

I started out translating professionally in 1994 and have offered interpreting services since 1996.
Translation offers opportunities for a more steady flow of work. Interpreting work is generally a little more difficult to come by. Some linguists offer both, some one or the other. Different skills are required. Interpreting is more tiring as it is much more intensive from a cognitive point of view.

I know a couple of people with formal interpreting qualifications who in fact do not enjoy interpreting as the intense concentration required causes a level of stress which puts them in difficulty. You have to know what you are talking about, in both languages. You have to have all the relevant vocabulary at your fingertips and enough knowledge of the field to find a solution to cover the odd occasion when your are not sure, or unsure what the person has said. Once your mouth is open, you have to find a solution. Thinking on your feet is only possible if you know your stuff.

Some formal qualifications may help, but there is no guarantee that would bring you any more work. If you get your translation work by agencies, then maybe those agencies could be a source of interpreting work. If you have direct clients, then you could contact them to offer your services. Interpreting is much more lucrative in terms of the amount you can earn in a day. However, it involves lots of preparation and negotiating, not to mention making sure expenses are covered too. Also, there are a fair number of situations where your need to work with another interpreter. That means having confidence in the other person and preparing the job together beforehand.

Basically then, I'd say, target clients in fields where you have specialist knowledge. Contact them explaining the type of interpreting services you wish to offer. Quite apart from the language skills, what the client will be looking for, and has the right to expect, is that you know what you are talking about. I don't see how you can do it convincingly otherwise.


[Edited at 2016-12-11 18:07 GMT]


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translatorwow  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:24
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Dec 12, 2016

Mariana Lantzet wrote:

There are hundreds of agencies in the UK. U need to systematically register with as many as possible - and with your present qualifications, work will start to come your way. It will be fragmented, (and that is forever....), and you will have to learn how to fill up your schedule to your best advantage, being conscious that you must build up a reputation of reliability. Age is not an issue. I suggest that at this point u wait till after the festive season.

Best of luck


I feel though that the fact I don't have an official MA in Conference Interpreting recognised by the EU means I won't be able to work in a professional capacity as an interpreter with the qualifications I have currently. How do you see it? Do you think I'm qualified enough to pursue my dream?

Many thanks again for your help!


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