Interpreting services – Professional development for interpreters: the do's and don'ts

Servizi di interpretariato – Aggiornamento professionale per interpreti: cosa fare e cosa non fare

Professional development is one of the most important components of being a successful interpreter. If what has been said is now valid for most sectors, it is even more so for interpreting, which requires keeping up with changes in language, culture, ethics and general linguistic studies.

Training courses can be not only difficult to follow, due to the pace to which interpreters are generally subjected, but also to find. A training course is to be considered valid, in fact, if it satisfies the objectives that the interpreter has set. In this article we will offer the interpreter some useful indications to always stay on track and keep up to date from a professional point of view. Let's start.

Never stop practicing and customize the training according to your goals

Since languages are ever growing and changing, you'll need a way to stay up-to-date like native speakers who live and work with the language every day.

Through the internet, you can directly access the most current content in your target language, even if you live on the other side of the world from the country of your interest.

A native-speaking language exchange partner can be of enormous help to both a professional interpreter and an interpreter in training.

No matter what the topic, these conversations will help you:

  • Stay up to date with the language.
  • Increase your confidence as a speaker.
  • Practice your listening skills.

Vocabulary and continuous study

Language is like a constantly evolving organism. Regional accents, slang, the internet, social scenes and more move and carry language forward. To interpret effectively, you must be able to understand all facets of the language.

Interpreters who don't continue to explore and delve into the vocabulary and its usage could end up disappointing their client or distorting the message. Think about the pandemic and all the new terms that have been introduced with its arrival!

Alongside vocabulary and terminology, fields of study are changing. Industries and the language that surrounds them will always have new terminologies, theories and practices that you should be familiar with. So don't hesitate and open up that new mental health book, history textbook, or LGBTQIA+ glossary to keep up!

Privilege, power and oppression

Education on the rights of marginalized communities is a subject on which, fortunately, more and more attention is being paid. For interpreters to serve as a voice for a refugee or deaf or hard of hearing individual, they must be well versed in the politics and stories affecting these groups.

This means understanding the perspectives and history of issues ranging from race to gender representation, women's rights to queer studies and more. To understand your customer you need to understand the issues that affect them most closely.

For sign language interpreters, this also means understanding the role a hearing person is playing in deaf spaces.


Certifications are a great way to communicate to customers and consumers that you have a certain level of experience and knowledge. There are so many and for all levels of interest, such as those in legal fields, health care, education and more.

Sign language interpreters seeking certifications must take a set number of hours of training and then complete a rigorous exam. They are then required to maintain their certifications through the acquisition of a set annual amount of continuing education units. There are national and state certifications, so check to see which ones apply to you.

Never settle

An interpreter should never feel like he has arrived and this shouldn't discourage him, far from it. At the end of the day it is healthy and beneficial for an interpreter to feel a sort of itch of dissatisfaction; that sense of incompleteness that should push him to always give his best, to achieve new goals, to grow as a person and a professional. The interpreter's work evolves with the language, with people and for people. Being an interpreter is a great responsibility, but also a source of inexhaustible gratification.

If you feel you are lacking in one area or want to branch out, start looking for training courses that are right for you.

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