Interpreter Tips


Tips For Interpreters

Tips For Success #1

Being an Interpreter is very rewarding.  You have the ability to help people communicate and in turn, help them to get proper medical treatments and legal advice or protections.  However, as an interpreter, there are a lot of things we must learn and juggle. We have a lot of expectations placed upon us and just knowing a second language does not give us the right to call ourselves an Interpreter.  When I started out as a Freelance Interpreter I hit many ‘bumps in the road’, which is why I’m always happy to share my experiences with others in the industry. Here are a few simples tips for interpreters that I found very useful when I started my career.

1.  Know before you go       Google Maps Image

Before jumping in your car or train for your assignment, know where you are going.  Double-check the address online and make sure you have all the information needed.  Is it West Lincoln Ave or East Lincoln Ave?   Use a service like Google Maps to figure out if there are constructions on the route.  Also, it’s always good to plan a secondary route in case there is a traffic jam on the first route selected.

If you have a job in the city and are planning on using public parking, figure out which parking lot you are going to use beforehand.  This will save you time and you may even be able to find a coupon online!

Try to find out the subject matter of the assignment and brush up on any vocabulary.  If you are interpreting at a conference, do some research on the speaker; often you can find past presentations online, (try Youtube).

These simple tip that can save you time and a lot of hassle on the day of the assignment.

2.  Be honest

Be truthful in telling your client (agency or direct client) about your abilities and experience.  If you’re not, the truth will eventually come out.  If you claim that you are experienced in a certain setting, but then at the assignment it is evident that do not have the experience, it will be noticeable.   Clients and agencies appreciate interpreters’ honesty when they decline an assignment because they do not feel comfortable in the setting.  This is actually a good opportunity to ask the agency for mentoring opportunities in that specific setting so you can eventually obtain the experience to accept these types of assignments.

Follow up reminder for interpreters3. Report all Follow-up Assignments

If you are made aware of any follow-up assignments notify the hiring agency immediately.   One: it makes you look responsible, trustworthy, and on the ball, and two: it’s an opportunity for you to be tasked with another assignment.  Don’t wait until the day before to notify the hiring agency of a future assignment.  By then it’s probably too late to confirm with the client and then the job is lost.

4.  It’s their client, not yours

When an agency assigns you for an assignment they are relying on you to:

1: perform interpreting duties with the utmost professionalism &

2: to represent the hiring agency

If the client puts you on the spot and asks you to return for a follow-up assignment, remember that you are working on behalf of the hiring agency.  Kindly tell the client that all requests for future assignments must be made directly through the agency, but that the client is welcome to request the interpreter by name for that future assignment.

Most agencies provide freelance interpreters with business cards that should be given out at the assignment.  Remember to give the agency’s card and number to the client and not your personal card.  Bear in mind that it’s a small world and trying to convert an agency’s client to your own may lead to fewer assignments down the road.  Not to mention bad karma! 

Success Ahead for Interpreters5. Stay ahead of the curve

The language Interpretation and Translation Industry is moving at high speed.  Never before has there been so many tools, conferences, and online courses to help advance linguists’ careers.  Take advantage of what is out there.  A lot of these tools are free or come at a nominal cost.  Also, remember to take advantage of related articles and blogs online.

6.  Join industry associations: local and national

One of the best ways of ‘staying in the loop’ is by joining industry associations such as  The American Translators Associations.  Membership is optional, but of course, more information is accessible to paying members. Their ‘Recourses’ pages provide a wealth of knowledge.  There you can find information on Careers, Newcomers, Business Practices, Professional Developments, and more.

Each region, state, and city has its own industry association as well. They offer great opportunities to learn what is happening close to home. Many hold events where you can meet colleagues and create business contacts. In the mid-Atlantic region, we recommend the DVTA , or the New York Circle of Translators.

American Translators Association                       New York Circle of Translators


Stay tuned for more industry tips~

Christina R.  Medical Interpreter, NYC

9+ years of experience

Accurate Language Services provides high quality, foreign language translation solutions in all languages.  We are dedicated to offering cost-effective, superior translation services.  Click HERE to learn more about our translation solutions or call our office at 732-898-9144 to discuss your next translation project with one of our Project Managers. 

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