Business interpreters provide language interpretation services for individual professionals and companies. These linguistic specialists may interpret conversations from a business meeting or conference call. They may also work directly for a corporation or as a private freelance contractor.
Business interpreters typically provide two kinds of services: consecutive and simultaneous interpretation. Consecutive interpretation requires waiting until a speaker has completed a sentence or group of words before beginning the conversion process. With simultaneous interpretation, an interpreter converts words while a speaker is speaking.
Both consecutive and simultaneous business interpreters may specialize in a variety of industries, including:
Business interpreters must be expert communicators in both the languages they are interpreting and communicating in. They should also be well-versed in business communications as well as the individual policies of their employer. Excellent communication and interpersonal skills are keys to succeeding in this profession. Business interpreters are often required to travel and may work with a variety of professionals from around the world.
Business interpreters must be fluent in at least two languages. Employers may also prefer candidates with at least a bachelor’s degree in foreign language(s), linguistics, communications or business from an accredited online or on-site institution. A master’s degree in business, international relations or a related field may benefit professionals seeking high level positions in the business interpretation field.
Some companies and interpretation agencies may also require business interpreters to undergo training on specific cultural, business or industry practices. In addition, certification from a professional organization such as the American Translators Association may expand the number and variety of career options for a business interpreter.
The annual salary of a business interpreter may depend on his or her location, area of specialty and specific industry. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, interpreters and translators had median annual wages of $38,850 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent of professionals earned between $28,940 and $52,240 for this same period.
The job outlook for professional interpreters is considered strong, with 22 percent growth expected from 2008-2018. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an increase in opportunities as more people and businesses expand their international connections.
*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics