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Hi Everyone,

I am a female Korean student studying in the US. I came to the US when I was in the middle school and has been speaking English since. I am a music performance major at a conservatory attached to a university (sophomore.)

Although I am bilingual, I am not US citizen. I know koreans only want americans.. and its going to be extremely hard to find a job in the US as a foreigner too.. Not to mention my major being music performance.

Do you guys have any suggestion for me? Where should I start from? Should I look into grad schools or just certification? Anything would be appreciated. It's always been in my mind for a long time but too afraid to even think about it considering my path is going on a totally different direction...

Once again, thank you for your time ! I hope to get some good answers (hopefully encouragements!!)

asked 16 Mar '14, 19:52

bunnyjojo's gravatar image


edited 16 Mar '14, 20:11

Vincent%20Buck's gravatar image

Vincent Buck


If you're in university education and you speak both KO and EN to university native speaker level then you have a couple of very good prerequisites for conference interpreting (CI). Now you need to see if you have what it takes by trying to get into an conference interpreting school. The AIIC Schools Directory lists 4 schools that teach CI KO-EN (and EN-KO). AlIC lists only Grad schools for CI as it doesn't consider undergrad a high enough level for this skill.

Beware! You may find at an admissions test (to CI Grad school) that you still don't get in. Being bilingual doesn't automatically qualify you - your KO may still be at middle school level*, or you may not have the analytical abilities required, and there are lots of other reasons you may not be suited to CI. But you seem to have a head-start (imagine someone who learned KO as a foreign language who wanted to become an interpreter!) so go for it!

What you major at university is not relevant. What is important is that you are articulate, quick-witted, have analytical skills and that you know your 2 languages. NB there are a lot of very gifted musicians in the interpreting profession.

Nationality shouldn't be a problem in general as conference interpreters are mostly freelance and work for any client who contracts them at the appropriate fee. But it may be a specific problem in the States if you aren't allowed to stay on and work (in any type of work, interpreting or other) after your studies. But then you might be able to make a living in Korea.

Good luck Andy

*If you're KO is weaker than your EN I recommend studying CI in Korea with the combination EN A and KO B (or A). There is one school in Korea in the AIIC Directory

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answered 20 Mar '14, 16:05

Andy's gravatar image


You're looking for encouragement. Here it is. It is absolutely no problem that you're doing music performance for your undergrad. Some of the best interpreters out there did non-language subjects at the undergrad level. It's much more important to have a good all-round education... and if you have a background in performance that can come in handy as well.

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answered 05 Apr '14, 05:06

William%20White's gravatar image

William White

and its going to be extremely hard to find a job in the US as a foreigner too.. Not to mention my major being music performance.

Do you guys have any suggestion for me? Where should I start from? Should I look into grad schools or just certification?

Written translation, legal or medical interpreting and conference interpreting are three different things. This Q&A website only deals with conference interpreting.

For all three professions, you should first find out whether there is any demand for Korean <> English. If yes, find out whether there is any need for more professionals offering that service.

A 2 years master degree in Monterrey, California, costs about $35,000 per year. Studies aren't easy and the first years of a freelance career can turn out to be very difficult. Find out why reading this topic.

Interpreting and translation studies are a bumpy ride. You might want to get in touch with Korean interpreters in the US to find out whether it's worth trying.

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answered 17 Mar '14, 08:20

Gaspar's gravatar image

Gaspar ♦♦

edited 17 Mar '14, 08:40

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question asked: 16 Mar '14, 19:52

question was seen: 10,848 times

last updated: 05 Apr '14, 05:06 is a community-driven website open to anyone with questions and/or answers about interpreting, i.e. spoken language translation

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