This site is no longer active. Looking for a conference interpreter? For news, events, contacts and any other information on conference interpreting, please visit us at

I am having a huge problem at this moment in my life. I have just gained my Associates degree and I am debating on whether or not to continue my education. I wish to be a translator/interpreter as well as an ESL teacher. My passion is Korea/Taiwan/Japan....etc. and so my original plan was to get a Bachelors Degree in East Asian Languages and Cultures but when the thought of a large amount of debt came to play, my mind changed and I am just thinking about going to LEXIS Korea to study Korean, get certified to be a translator, and get an ESL certificate. My mother thinks that this is a bad idea because she thinks that I won't have a future, but this is in my mind, the cheaper route and I will have a future. I have heard of Translators that make just as much money as those who do have a bachelors degree and they don't have one. I also want to do missionary work, and I know if I have debt, it will be hard for me to do that.

Can I have some advice as to what I should do? I don't want all of that debt; the school that I got accepted into is $30,000 a year and I plan on being there for two. LEXIS in Korea is only $20,000 a year and I have seen people that have gained fluency in just a few months; I wouldn't have to be there for a whole year if I didn't want to be....

I have to make up my mind about my transfer school within a week because I have to go sign up for classes.....

Any translators out there who have come to this situation?? What should I do?? What would be the smarter route??

asked 19 May '16, 17:15

Rcbishop1001's gravatar image


Gáspár and Andrew are right to stress that learning a language takes a long time, especially if you are going to use it in CI. I’ve never faced the same debt issue as you as I come from a country where education is less expensive than in the United States, but there is something that should give you hope: not everyone in an interpreting course is in their twenties. Some of my colleagues were in their thirties, some in their forties. You don’t have to start studying interpreting at 22: you can do something completely unrelated before if this helps you learn the languages, gather experience and general knowledge. Once you are ready, take the CI course. This sounds easier than it really is, but this is a realistic way to become an interpreter.

permanent link

answered 19 Jun '16, 17:02

mflorian's gravatar image


My brief advice would be that if you are interested in Conference Interpreting (CI) you will need a Bachelors Degree because it is a pre-requisite for the post-graduate studies you'll need to take to train as a conference interpreter. It doesn't matter however what subject that degree is in, as long as your languages are up to scratch.

The other thing I would say about your languages is that for CI you will need to focus on one of Korean, Chinese or Japanese. Firstly because they are very different to English and require a lot of time to learn (for most English speakers) and secondly because the CI markets for those languages would require you to interpret from but also into those languages which requires an incredibly high level of language skill and therefore even more time. You're estimates for achieving "fluency" seem very optimistic and "fluency" is not usually good enough for interpreting. If you were learning any of these languages from scratch and aiming at CI level you should reckon with 2-4 years study plus at least 2 years living in the country. (So as you can see why you might want to focus on a single language!). Personally I wouldn't advise going to a country to live until you've studied the language for a few years and can at least hold a conversation. Otherwise you'll end up with English-speaking friends and you'll never learn the language. For more ideas have a look this post

You've set a lot of goals - interpreting, translating, ESL, missionary work - some of which don't fit together too well. ESL teaching is probably going to stop you learning a language (because you'll be working in English all day), whereas missionary work sort of assumes that you already speak a language very well. So again I would suggest focussing on one or other and not trying to do too much.

Good luck!

permanent link

answered 20 May '16, 09:50

Andy's gravatar image


I have heard of Translators that make just as much money as those who do have a bachelors degree and they don't have one.

Prospective clients want the assurance that you're qualified. Either by reading on your CV that you have a two decade long experience working for big companies, or that you have more diplomas on the wall than the next man. Getting a foot into the door might be difficult if you have neither.

Bear in mind that having the same monthly income doesn't mean that all competitors work equally long hours and stand on an equal footing when it comes to finding clients and negociating high rates. In my case, I can make in six days what others will earn in twelve, because I've more to show.

Last but not least, bear in mind what Andy said about fluency. If you want clients to pay good money for your services, you'll need to able able to offer high quality. Learning a language takes years. Learning how to translate properly takes years. Learning the cultural differences takes years as well.

permanent link

answered 25 May '16, 11:59

Gaspar's gravatar image

Gaspar ♦♦

edited 25 May '16, 12:00

Your answer
toggle preview

Follow this question

By Email:

Once you sign in you will be able to subscribe for any updates here



Answers and Comments

Markdown Basics

  • *italic* or _italic_
  • **bold** or __bold__
  • link:[text]( "title")
  • image?![alt text](/path/img.jpg "title")
  • numbered list: 1. Foo 2. Bar
  • to add a line break simply add two spaces to where you would like the new line to be.
  • basic HTML tags are also supported

Question tags:


question asked: 19 May '16, 17:15

question was seen: 3,665 times

last updated: 17 Jul '16, 04:23

powered by OSQA