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Dear all, I have been a translator and liaison interpreter for many years now. My BA degree course included Consecutive (of which I did some work afterwards) and Simultaneous, which I loved and wasn't bad at, but have never done professionally. My combination is A Spanish, B English and C Portuguese. I also have some knowledge of a variety of other languages. I have never been able to afford a Master's Degree in Conference Interpreting, so a career in a public organization sounds pretty much out of the question. I would like to ask anyone with my combination or aware of professional conference interpreters with it if there is any 'point', as it were, in going back to practising two or more hours a day and pursue an interpreting career, or any interpreting work at all. My colleagues tell me fees are at their lowest, not only in Translation, a fact I'm very aware of, but also in Interpretation. I only interpret for private clients now, at €50ph, but court interpreters -and I used to be one- now often get as little as €10ph. I would be happy to relocate abroad, as many Spaniards from all occupational backgrounds do nowadays. I believe the situation for Spanish translators and interpreters has not only to do with the crisis but also with the fact that Spanish as a translating and interpreting language is simply not much valued among Western ones.
Answers in any of the three languages mentioned above are more than appreciated.

asked 15 Feb '14, 17:06

mar's gravatar image


retagged 16 Feb '14, 07:52

Gaspar's gravatar image

Gaspar ♦♦

I have never been able to afford a Master's Degree in Conference Interpreting, so a career in a public organization sounds pretty much out of the question.

Nowadays, you need to have a masters degree in CI in order to have a chance on the private market or the International / European organizations market. And an additional language. Probably Russian for the UN or DE/DA/EL/FI//NL/EUR13 for the EU.

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answered 15 Feb '14, 22:47

Gaspar's gravatar image

Gaspar ♦♦

Thank you, Gaspar. I have been offered work as a simultaneous interpreter EN>ES at conferences several times. I never accepted because I wasn't trained enough to provide a professional result. But no need for a MD, for sure. Perhaps the private market is divided into two very different worlds? One with MD degree trained interpreters working for reasonable fees and the other with degree trained interpreters for low fees?

Also, could you or anyone reading this shed some light on DA>ES interpreting prospects? Is there little, poorly paid work for this as well? I studied some Danish some time ago but then stopped, thinking that having the three most widely spoken Western languages in the world as my A, B and C would guarantee a little decent work... Maybe I was naive, but if going back studying Danish is not going to make any difference, I wonder if there is any point at all. Thanks a lot again for all your feedback.

(16 Feb '14, 06:43) mar

"I never accepted because I wasn't trained enough to provide a professional result. But no need for a MD, for sure."

A masters programme in conference interpreting is the only curriculum which will allow you to learn the interpreting technique, get feedback from experienced conference interpreters and learn professional rules and ethics specific to conference interpreting. You can't access the market without credentials, colleagues won't recruit people who haven't been trained properly.

Experience in translation, liaison or public service interpreting will give you some transposable skills and knowledge, yet it's apples and oranges.

DA>ES: As little competitors as there is demand. Probably no point unless: 1) your DA is very strong 2) you get a degree in conference interpreting 3) you pass the EU test.

"Perhaps the private market is divided into two very different worlds?"

Sort of.

  • You have people who are professional conference interpreters, trained for the job and who live only off conference interpreting. They work about 80 days a year in the booth as freelancers and spend the rest of their time maintaining / improving their skills. They come at a price, since lump sum billed for one day of work (we don't bill per hour) has to cover for the constant training and specific preparation for the meeting. The EU pays 400€ NET per day of work.

  • You have people who speak some languages and who, when they are offered the opportunity to work in a booth doing "oral translation" will say yes. They usually have a day job and they'd gladly supplement their income by working for any amount that is about three times what they'd get by baby-sitting. They have no training, will not provide the client with the quality that is standard for conference interpreters and will not know how to handle many of the situations that will arise. They will not be able to fill the gap of understanding between the people who don't speak the same language. Buy cheap, buy twice.

(16 Feb '14, 07:09) Gaspar ♦♦

Creo que Gaspar lo ha dejado muy claro. Un profesional, formado, con su Máster en interpretación de conferencias (y los hay, muy buenos, que no cuestan tan caro en Europa), con una combinación lingüística interesante, como puede ser del francés/inglés/danés al español, puede ganarse la vida combinando misiones en las instituciones europeas (que pagan unos 400€ netos/día) y conferencias (generalmente bastante más técnicas) en el mercado privado, en España y fuera (donde las tarifas son más elevadas, ya que son imponibles). Las encuestas de AIIC muestran que los miembros con este perfil suelen trabajar entre 80 y 100 días/año. Pero para aspirar a ganar tarifas profesionales hay que tener una formación profesional también. Sin formación, desde luego, es mejor abstenerse. Para más información sobre la profesión, te animo a visitar la web de ESPaiic

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answered 16 Feb '14, 13:18

Danielle's gravatar image


"Máster en interpretación de conferencias (y los hay, muy buenos, que no cuestan tan caro en Europa)"

Speaking of which, Mar, here's an overview of the costs of CI MAs:

(17 Feb '14, 07:46) Gaspar ♦♦

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answered 14 May '14, 23:45

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question asked: 15 Feb '14, 17:06

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