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Interpreter

Interpreters change spoken words from one language into another, either face-to-face or remotely.

Annual Salary

variable

Average UK salary in 2022 was £33,200
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

35 to 40 variable

You could work: freelance / self-employed; managing your own hours

0.5%
Future employment

There will be 0.5% more Interpreter jobs in 2027.

Day to day tasks

There are 3 different types of interpreting:

  • conference interpreting
  • consecutive interpreting
  • public service interpreting

As a conference interpreter you could:

  • 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 through a microphone and headset

As a consecutive interpreter you may:

  • work in smaller business meetings with 2 or more people
  • interpret after each sentence or passage of speech

As a public service interpreter you could:

  • 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

Working environment

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.

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • volunteering
  • applying directly
  • specialist courses run by a professional body
University

You can do a degree or postgraduate qualification in:

  • interpreting studies
  • languages and interpreting
  • translation and interpreting

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree
  • a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study
For more information
Volunteering and work experience

You can find unpaid or paid volunteering opportunities through local councils and organisations offering community interpreting services.

A community interpreting qualification may help you volunteer as an interpreter in your local community. Colleges and universities may have more information about this.

Direct application

You may be able to get into this job if you have a non-language degree if you're fluent in English and a second language.

Other routes

To help you to get a job in public service interpreting, you can take a Chartered Institute of Linguists course like:

  • Certificate in Bilingual Skills
  • Diploma in Public Service Interpreting

More information

Career tips

To be fluent in a language, you should: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

Further information

You can find out more about how to become an interpreter from the Institute of Translation and Interpreting.

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You could combine interpreting with translating or teaching. You could also move into the management of interpreting services in the public or private sector.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • 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
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
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