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Dear all,

I couldn't help noticing that whenever it comes to CI, the focus always seems to be on what is going on in Europe. Obviously, this makes sense considering that the Commission is the world's largest employer of interpreters. The interpreting school I am currently attending is hellbent on preparing its students for accreditation at the European Institutions and United Nations - a strategy which I certainly do not consider to be unwise. And yet, one doesn't really hear too much about what the situation is like for young conference interpreters in North America, for instance. So, where is everybody?!? And what are you guys doing?!?

I am myself an Italian American who will - if everything goes well of course - graduate from interpreting school next year (EN A/ DE B/ FR C). Considering how difficult the current situation seems to be for young interpreters based in Europe, I was wondering how the North American market is currently treating them. I am aware that Community interpreting plays a more important role in the US (here's an excellent post I came across only recently: link text). But what about good old fashioned CI? The stuff I am currently learning at school?! Is there anybody out there who has more insight and would like to share his or her knowledge?

Thanks in advance for your help and any advice you might want to offer! :) Annie

P.S.: Answers in German and French are welcome!

asked 04 Jul '13, 01:17

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edited 04 Jul '13, 03:57

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S'agissant de l'ordre dans lequel ces villes ont été placées, n'oubliez pas que l'évolution de la situation économique peut changer singulièrement les choses:

"The cities where you will find the largest conference interpretation markets are (more or less in descending order): Brussels, Paris, Geneva, London, Rome, Berlin, Vienna, Strasburg, Ottawa, Madrid, Barcelona, New York, Washington DC, and Montreal."

Je pense qu'à l'heure actuelle NYC, Washington et Montreal sont passées loin devant Madrid et Barcelone (où j'habite). Le marché privé a beaucoup souffert de la crise, alors que les villes d'Amérique du Nord où les institutions sont nombreuses résistent bcp mieux. Cela dit, Annie, il vous manque l'espagnol pour vous faire une place au soleil dans ces institutions. Un nouveau défi?

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answered 26 Jul '13, 12:55

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Merci, Danielle! En effet, mes recherches m'ont également suggéré que ce sont surtout Washington D.C. et NYC qui pourraient peut-être permettre à un ou une jeune interprète de gagner sa vie. Mais comme vous le dîtes, ces villes ont pu résister à la crise grâce aux institutions. Pour avoir accès à ces marchés, un français B sera bel et bien nécessaire. Mais penser à ajouter l'espagnol ne me semble pas être une mauvaise idée...

(26 Jul '13, 16:57) Annie

Un français B est surtout utile sur le marché bilingue parisien FR-EN. Aux USA - et surtout dans les institutions où on ne pratique pas le "retour" - il ne vous sera que de maigre utilité.

(27 Jul '13, 02:36) Danielle

Et sur le marché privé de cette région, Danielle? Un retour ne sera-t-il pas nécessaire? J'imagine qu'à l'heure actuelle il n'y a que très peu de jeunes collègues qui ont la chance de ne travailler que pour les institutions.

(27 Jul '13, 12:11) Annie

Les "retours" sont essentiellement utiles sur les marchés bilingues, avec la langue du pays + l'anglais. Aux USA, la combinaison bilingue la + recherchée est espagnol + anglais. Le français n'y joue qu'un rôle marginal sur le marché privé (en aller-retour), même s'il est parfois utile dans les institutions de Bretton Woods (mais alors il vaut mieux avoir un A français, avec un retour vers l'anglais). Par contre, la cabine anglaise avec le français ET l'espagnol passifs (+ le russe ou le portugais, idéalement) est intéressante pour le marché institutionnel de la Côte Est, à savoir pour l'ONU et autres institutions multilingues, où le retour n'est pas vraiment nécessaire. Donc, si vous comptez vous installer aux USA, il vaut mieux ajouter l'espagnol qu'activer votre français ;-)

(27 Jul '13, 12:41) Danielle

Merci beaucoup pour les infos, Danielle! Etant de Californie, j'ai eu de la chance d'apprendre l'espagnol à l'école et plus tard j'ai fait des études d'italien . Mais à vrai dire, je n'étais pas très sûr à quel point ce serait avantageux d'ajouter l'espagnol comme langue de travail. Merci encore! :)

(27 Jul '13, 12:58) Annie

Hi Annie,

There is a very vibrant CI market in North America. It all depends where you want to work. The main CI hubs in the USA are Washington, DC, New York, Miami, Chicago (to a certain extent), San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Seattle (with a smaller CI market.) Everything depends on your language combination. There is plenty of work in Mandarin, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, and Portuguese. German for example is not often used but there IS work of course. In Canada for example, there is plenty of work for the bilingual market French<>English whereas in the USA for the European languages it would be more Spanish<>English. There is plenty of work in Washington with all of the international organizations based there. On the US West Coast most assignments are private market assignments but your workload is based on your language combination. In North America, if you are starting out, I would choose a city where there is plenty of work such as Washington, DC, New York, Ottawa, or Montreal. Good luck! and YES, North America has a lot to offer you too!

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answered 09 Jul '13, 05:29

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Thank you for your reply, Pablo! Indeed, it will depend on where one wants to live. But I'd like to base that decision on where I have the opportunity of making a living as an interpreter. I have so many friends who passed the Commission's accreditation tests and none of them were given ONE SINGLE WORKING DAY!!! A couple of seasoned interpreters told me that nowadays you need the backbone of the Institutions in order to succeed as a freelancer. Just relying on the private market won't suffice. But apparently, you can't really expect to get any work from the institutions either... I find the situation here in Europe very worrying. I can only hope that the situation in the US is better. Do you have any acquaintances working the market there? Or are you working there yourself? California being my home state, I tried to get an idea of the market there first. The languages most in demand there are Spanish - that goes without saying - and Chinese. There seems to be more demand for "average" European languages such as French and German on the East Coast. I hope that sooner or later we'll get some feedback from someone who is in the thick of it. Thanks again, Pablo!

(09 Jul '13, 12:18) Annie

Un extrait de "So, I finally have my conference interpreting degree – now what do I do?" de Chris Guichot de Fortis :

I) Where do you want or need to live? (Go where you are special…)

Before building your career, the first question to ask yourself is where do you want to live? You may have family or emotional ties to a certain country or city, in which case you know the answer to your question. If you don’t have these ties, if you are ready to go anywhere the work is, think very carefully about your language combination and make your decision based on that. Leaving all other considerations aside, the cities where you will find the largest conference interpretation markets are (more or less in descending order): Brussels, Paris, Geneva, London, Rome, Berlin, Vienna, Strasburg, Ottawa, Madrid, Barcelona, New York, Washington DC, and Montreal. Keep in mind that in some of these markets, a large part of the work is given by official entities, which will require that you be of a certain nationality before they can employ you.

Source et document complet :

Aux USA, sur le marché gouvernemental :

The Interpreting Division of Language Services (LS) provides staff and contractors who can interpret at the most demanding skill levels for the Department of State, the White House, and the Executive Branch of the Federal Government. Source et suite :

Au Canada

Les marchés de l’interprétation de conférence au Canada à lire sur le site AIIC Canada

Cinquante ans d’interprétation parlementaire à lire sur le site des travaux publics et services gouvernementaux du Canada

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answered 07 Jul '13, 10:14

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Gaspar ♦♦

edited 07 Jul '13, 10:14

Dear Gaspar,

Thank you for your kind and exhaustive reply. I have come across Chris Guichot de Fortis' paper on a previous occasion, and it is definitely a good and interesting read. Especially for junior interpreters. I was hoping to get some feedback from the freelancers in North America. I am relatively familiar with the situation here in Europe. I thought it might be interesting to find out whether the situation is any better in North America. I'm guessing not, but then again you never know!! Thanks again for your time! :)

(08 Jul '13, 22:53) Annie

I am a Russian translator/interpreter in Montreal, Québec, and I am unemployed. I worked for several years as an interperter between English and Russian in Russia, but in Montréal there seems very little demand for interpreters.

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answered 05 Jul '13, 23:44

ybelov's gravatar image


Thank you for your reply, Yuri. I hope you'll find a job asap! All the best! Annie

(06 Jul '13, 20:15) Annie

Il faut peut être nuancer... Du boulot au Canada, il semble y en avoir dans le parlement pour les biactifs EN<>FR. Ensuite, dire qu'on est sans emploi alors qu'on est freelance, c'est un paroxysme (ou une redondance, c'est selon). Sans compter des critères décisifs comme l'ancienneté (il faut un temps pour s'installer sur un marché), le pedigree (la formation de renommée facilite l'accès au réseau professionnel), etc.

Si des réponses empiriques sont utiles, gardons en mémoire qu'une réponse strictement personnelle n'est pas pour autant nécessairement représentative, ni par conséquent pertinente : Je connais des diplômés en interprétation qui n'obtiennent pas de journées de travail à Bruxelles. De là à en conclure qu'il n'y a pas de boulot dans cette ville... ;-)

(07 Jul '13, 09:28) Gaspar ♦♦
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question asked: 04 Jul '13, 01:17

question was seen: 17,575 times

last updated: 27 Jul '13, 12:58

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