Job Pressure
Academic Pressure
1-2 L
Early Salary
4-5 L
Mid Level Salary
7-8 L
Senior Salary

Interpreters convert information from one spoken language into another—or, in the case of sign language interpreters, between spoken language and sign language. The goal of an interpreter is to have people hear the interpretation as if it were the original. Interpreters must usually be fluent speakers or signers of both languages, because they communicate back and forth among the people who do not share a common language.

There are three common modes of interpreting: simultaneous, consecutive, and whispered.

Simultaneous. Simultaneous interpreters cannot begin interpreting until the general meaning of the sentence is understood. Simultaneous interpreting requires interpreters to listen or watch and speak or sign at the same time someone is speaking or signing. It requires a high level of concentration. For that reason, simultaneous interpreters usually work in pairs, each interpreting for about 20 to 30 minutes and then resting while the other interprets. Simultaneous interpreters are often familiar with the subject matter, so they can anticipate the end of the speaker’s sentences.

Consecutive. Consecutive interpreting begins only after the speaker has said or signed a group of words or sentences. Consecutive interpreters may take notes while listening to or watching the speakers before presenting their interpretation. Note taking is an essential part of consecutive interpreting.

Whispered. Interpreters in this mode sit very close to the listeners and provides a simultaneous interpretation in a quiet voice. At least two interpreters take turns.

What do they do?

Interpreters and translators typically do the following:

  • Convert concepts in the source language to equivalent concepts in the target language
  • Compile information, such as technical terms used in legal settings, into glossaries and terminology databases to be used in translations
  • Speak, read, and write fluently in at least two languages, including English and one or more others
  • Relay the style and tone of the original language
  • Manage work schedules to meet deadlines
  • Render spoken messages accurately, quickly, and clearly

Interpreters and translators aid communication by converting message or text from one language into another language. Although some people do both, interpreting and translating are different professions: interpreters work with spoken communication, and translators work with written communication.

Typical day in the life of a Interpreter

A Day in a  Translator or interpreter's  Life

On a typical day a translator or interpreter's tasks might include:

  • Converting written or spoken information from a source to a target language
  • Converting between sign language and a spoken language
  • Accurately relaying style or tone so that meaning remains the same when translating or interpreting from one language to another
  • Adhering to strict deadlines when dealing with translating written material
  • If doing translation, working on a computer to receive, compose and submit documents
  • Protecting the confidentiality of material as required
  • Referring to reference sources as needed to insure accuracy of translated works

Pros about this career

  • Excellent job growth predicted
  • Full-time, part-time, and self-employment options are all available
  • Work can be found in various types of settings

Cons about this career

  • Irregular and long hours may be common for freelancers
  • Periods of limited work may also arise for the self-employed
  • Interpreting can be stressful at times

Skills needed

  • Business skills
  • Concentration
  • Cultural sensitivity
  • Dexterity
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Listing skills
  • Speaking skills
  • Writing skills

How do I get there

Academic qualification and proficiency in foreign languages opens the gate for career in sectors such as tourism, embassies, diplomatic service, entertainment, public relations and mass communication, international organisations, publishing, interpretation and translation, etc. Additionally, various multinational corporate bodies require candidates possessing excellent language skills in French, German, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, Korean, Portuguese, etc. Some new avenues such as online content writers, technical translators or decoders too have come up in a big way.

Doing a course from the institute of the country concerned will be recognized any where in the globe. For instance, Max Mueller Bhavan for German, Alliance Francaise for French, Cervantes for Spanish and so on. In Bengal, Calcutta University (CU), Jadavpur University (JU) and Ramkrishna Mission offer language courses. The Central Institute of English and Foreign Languages (CIEFL) in Hyderabad also offers language courses. 

Related Career Options