How to become a professional interpreter: requirements, training and career opportunities

Approaching the career of interpreting and translationprofessional interpreting is a fascinating and challenging path that offers rewarding job opportunities in a variety of fields, from government and diplomacy to business and beyond. However, becoming an interpreter requires not only exceptional language skills but also appropriate training and extensive experience. In this article, we will explore the requirements needed to embark on a career for interpreting services, the recommended training path and the job opportunities available within professional agencies for interpreters and translators.

Requirements to become a professional interpreter 

  • Language skills:the basic requirement for becoming a professional interpreter is a fluent command of at least two languages, including the mother tongue and a second working language. It is essential to have a thorough understanding of the grammar, vocabulary and culture associated with both languages.
  • Academic training: Although there is no compulsory academic path to becoming an interpreter, many professionals take degree courses in foreign languages, linguistics, translation or interpreting to acquire the necessary skills.
  • Interpreting skills:In addition to language skills, interpreters must possess active listening skills, critical thinking, quick comprehension and effective communication skills.
  • Professional certifications: Obtaining industry-recognised certifications, such as those offered by the Italian Association of Translators and Interpreters (AITI) or the Italian National Association of Translators and Interpreters (ANITI), can increase career prospects and professional credibility.

Training course to become a professional interpreter:

  • Academic training: most future interpreters start with an appropriate academic education, attending university courses in foreign languages, interpreting or translation.
  • Specialised training programmes:after completing basic academic training, many aspiring interpreters participate in specialised training programmes in consecutive, simultaneous and liaison interpreting. These programmes offer a crucial opportunity to gain practical experience and develop specific skills required for professional interpreting.
  • Internship and practice: during the course of training, it is important to gain practical experience through internships, placements or freelance work. These opportunities allow aspiring interpreters to practise their language skills and hone their interpretative skills in real-life contexts.
  • Continuing education:interpreting is a constantly evolving field; therefore, it is important for professional interpreters to engage in continuing education to stay up-to-date with the latest trends, technologies and practices in the field.

Job opportunities in the professional interpreting sector:  

Once they have completed their training and gained the necessary experience, professional interpreters have a wide range of job opportunities, including: 

  • Freelance work: many interpreters choose to work on a freelance basis, offering their services to private clients, companies, government agencies and non-profit organisations.
  • Interpreting and Translation Agencies:professional agencies for interpreters and translators offer stable and diverse employment opportunities, serving a variety of sectors, including international trade, law, medicine, technology and more.
  • International and governmental organisations:interpreters may be employed by international organisations such as the United Nations, the European Union, and national government agencies.
  • Events and conferences:Interpreters are often required for international events, conferences, trade fairs and diplomatic meetings.

Becoming a professional interpreter requires commitment, exceptional language skills and appropriate training. However, for those who pursue this career, rewarding and challenging job opportunities are abundant. By following a structured educational path, gaining practical experience and remaining committed to continuing education, interpreters can build a successful career in the professional interpreting industry. 


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