35 to 40 variable (freelance / self-employed managing your own hours)
Where to start
You can get into this job through
a university coursevolunteeringapplying directlyspecialist courses run by a professional body
You can do a degree or postgraduate qualification in interpreting studies, languages and interpreting or translation and interpreting.
You'll usually need 2 to 3 A-Levels, or the equivalent. A degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study is required.
You can find voluntary or paid work through councils or other organisations offering community interpreting services.
A community interpreting qualification will help you get work in the local community.
You may be able to get into this job if you have a non-language degree, providing you're fluent in English and a second language.
You can take a Chartered Institute of Linguists course like the Certificate in Bilingual Skills or the Diploma in Public Service Interpreting to help you to get a job in public service interpreting. To be fluent, you should be able to communicate quickly, smoothly and accurately
know and understand informal speech, slang and regional differences
understand the culture of the country or countries where the language is spoken.
Professional and industry bodies
You can join an industry association to help with your professional development and to build up your network of contacts. Organisations include:
- Institute of Translation and Interpreting
- International Association of Conference Interpreters
- Chartered Institute of Linguists
- National Register of Public Service Interpreters
What it takes
Skills and knowledge
- foreign language skills
- knowledge of English language
- to be thorough and pay attention to detail
- customer service skills
- patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
- the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
- the ability to work on your own
- to be flexible and open to change
- to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
What you’ll do
In conference interpreting you could:
In consecutive interpreting you may:
- work at national and international conferences, lectures and meetings
- listen to a speaker through headphones in a soundproof booth
- interpret speeches at the same time as the speaker and pass on the interpreted version through a mic and headset
In public service interpreting you could:
- work in smaller business meetings with 2 or more people
- interpret after each sentence or passage of speech
- interpret for people using legal, health and local government services
- check their understanding after each sentence
- interpret at short notice for emergency medical or police interviews
You could work at a client's business, at a conference centre, in an office, at a police station, in a court, in a prison or in an NHS or private hospital.
Your working environment may be emotionally demanding and you'll travel often.
Career path and progression
You could combine interpreting with translating or teaching. You could also move into the management of interpreting services in the public and private sector.