A Closer Look at a Career as an...

A Closer Look at a Career as an Interpreter

by Rochelle C. Pangilinan
Jobs People Do | JobsPeopleDo.com

If you’ve been able to see a foreign language film – you know, those ones with subtitles – you probably can get an inkling of how interpreters work. Most TV programs and films are accessible in different languages these days, and we have interpreters to thank for that.

However, some words or phrases are not easily translatable to English, but you have to consider what is being said and ensure the intended message is loud and clear, and this is where the interpreters’ challenge begins. As the word suggests, interpreters do more than translate the language – they have to make sure what they translate is understandable and easily comprehensible.

Interpreters – What You Need to Know

Interpreters are the main instruments for breaking down a language barrier, and they are employed by various sectors, both public and private. For example, government agencies that deal with immigration may employ an interpreter to facilitate discussions between a client and the consultant, while private individuals may also employ an interpreter if they are visiting a foreign land whether for business or for pleasure.

While interpreters are the major players for a smooth communication, their roles today usually encompass language translation and interpretation. In most cases, they also act as cultural experts for clients, providing them with education on rules and etiquette and ensuring that none of these are broken. They should also be highly sensitive not just on verbal cues but also non-verbal cues, making certain that their clients are well-aware of them.


According to PayScale.com, an Interpreter can earn as much as $32,083 – $63,358 a year.


If a career as an interpreter is what you have in mind, you have to have advanced fluency in the target language. You have to have good analytical skills to ensure accurate message delivery. As you will have to work with people from a wide variety of cultural backgrounds, you have to be well-versed in cultural norms and practices.

To be an interpreter in Canada, you need to obtain certification from the member body that exists in the province or territory you intend to settle or work. There are three different mechanisms used, namely certification on dossier, certification exam, and certification by mentorship, each of which have their own set of requirements in terms of education and work experience.

Pros and Cons

The main advantage of interpreters is they get to work with individuals or companies with different needs, making their regular day at work exciting. There are travel prospects involved too so this is especially beneficial for those with the travel bug.

The main disadvantage is that it is a profession that is on per-need basis, which means most of the time, they will have to be on-call.

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