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Benefits and Challenges of Being an Interpreter

Being an interpreter is both a rewarding and challenging job. There will be days when you feel completely satisfied by what you have done and achieved, and there will be moments when you will feel so exhausted and frustrated that you would like to give up and change your profession. This is normal for each and every job.  

If you have chosen to be an interpreter, you are probably well aware of the challenges you will face and the benefits you will reap from your profession. For those of you who are still wondering what the magic is behind interpretation, we offer a brief review of the pros and cons of the job that can help you make up your mind about whether to become an interpreter. 


Benefits of being an interpreter

The job of the interpreter has tons of positive aspects that attract new people to the profession and keep the interest of those who have been practicing it for years. There is a great mixture of adventure, knowledge, cultural enrichment, and travel. If you are not fond of routine tasks, then this is the right job for you. Here are just a few of the benefits that you will enjoy as an interpreter: 

  • Helping people 

Perhaps one of the most rewarding advantages of a career as an interpreter is the fact that you help people understand each other and communicate efficiently. The efforts that you put into learning a foreign language and mastering the art of interpretation receive their best reward with the simple thank you or facial expressions of the people you work with. Conveying the right message from one language to another and thus breaking the communication barriers is one of the most special advantages of this profession.  

  • Constantly learning new things 

Being an interpreter means that you need to keep track of the new developments around you. This is related both to the languages that you work with and to the technologies related to translation and interpretation. Choosing this career means embracing lifelong learning and the different methods and trends in e-learning. 

  • Traveling and learning culture, habits, traditions 

As an interpreter, you have to travel a lot – to other cities, states, and countries. This is great for people, who love traveling and gives you the option to visit new places and learn more about their culture and traditions. The disadvantage here is that often, your working schedule is so tight that you do not have time to explore. Therefore, try to give yourself a day or two outside the working time to stay at the new place (if possible of course).  

  • Various work settings 

You can work as an interpreter in various places – the most common is the business interpretation services, which include a lot of conferences, workshops, and other events. Interpreters are also needed in education, hospitals, courtrooms, etc. You can work full-time, part-time, or as a freelancer, which gives you many options. Besides, there are various training and education programs that can prepare you for the job.  

  • Excellent job growth and good income potential 

Last but not least, the possibility of finding a job as a translator or interpreter is constantly growing. As per some of the data from the US Bureau of Statistics, there is an expected growth rate of 46% for interpreters and translators for the period of 2012 – 2022. Besides, the job is also well-paid – as per ZipRecruiter, the hourly rate varies between $12.50 and $40.38, with an average rate of $31.89. There is an additional payment for overtime as well.  


Common challenges faced by interpreters 

Like every profession, that of the interpreter has some downsides. Here are a few of the most common challenges that professionals in the field face in their work: 

  • What do you do? 

Quite often, interpreters have to explain what they do. Interpretation is often confused with translation, and many people do not see any difference. In some languages, there isn’t a different word for translator and interpreter. 

  • The freelance aspect 

One of the challenges, especially for freelance interpreters, is to be constantly looking for a job that is worth the time and effort you put into it. Being a freelancer can be a bit overwhelming from time to time.  

  • The specialized language 

Quite often, some of the business interpretation services that the professional needs to perform take them to an event that is highly specialized in a given industry. Sometimes, the language is too technical or full of jargon and terminology that you do not use in your everyday life. This requires a lot of preparation in advance. In other words, you never stop learning and expanding your vocabulary (which is actually one of the advantages of the job, too). 

  • Feeling kind of lonely 

It is true that the job takes you to many places and you meet quite a few people, however, in most cases, you are a facilitator and not the actual participant in the dialogue. As an interpreter, you are bound by a code of ethics, and you need to follow the given requirements. Quite often, it means interpreting ideas that you do not support or using language that you would never normally use. This, however, is part of the job that you need to accept and continue offering the best services possible to the clients.  

  • Stress and short-notice 

The job of the interpreter is also quite stressful. Very often, you need to react upon short notice, or there is a change in the venue or time of the event, or the speaker changes their presentation at the last minute. Besides, during the interpretation, you need to be able and react quickly even if you are faced with new words, specific phrases, or jargon. Every deviation from the original may change the overall meaning of the message that you have to convey in the target language. Perhaps, there are moments when you feel that your knowledge is not enough, however, at the end of the day your experience and professionalism help you complete the task.  


Final thoughts

The truth is that the job of the interpreter is always evolving and never boring. Sometimes, it may be hard to face the daily challenge but for that reason, you can seek some peer support in social media groups or read a few articles on some of the best translation blogs. The main advantage of the profession of the interpreter is that it is never the same. Each job, task, or client helps you to broaden your horizon.  

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