An interpreter’s job is to translate between two (and in some cases even more) languages, often instantly while a conversation is taking place. This is the primary aspect that separates the job of an interpreter and a regular translator – an interpreter is most often required for immediate translation. Their services are commonly used in television, politics and diplomacy where an on-the-fly translation is frequently required between two parties in a conversation. Additionally, the job also has applications in the law system and other areas.
Becoming an interpreter depends mainly on the languages one is aiming to work with, as each language has its own certification system with the appropriate certificates and licenses awarded by it – such as the DSH for German and TOEFL/Cambridge tests for English. It’s important to become as qualified as possible in all the languages the interpreter is planning to work with. Additionally, a good interpreter must have the ability to quickly follow speech and translate it immediately in coherent chunks to that the information flows smoothly between the two parties.
An interpreter earns more or less okay for the work they’re doing – the median salary for 2009 was $47,000, and the job normally pays up to $55,000 a year in most cases. There are some rare cases of interpreters earning remarkably more than that, though these are mostly related to working privately for a person of a higher rank and aren’t the common case with the job’s market.