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this is an entirely hypothetical question, but being a woman in my early twenties who's thinking about doing another MA degree and then working for a few years to save up for a MA CI (which would place my entry into the market in my late twenties), I can't help wondering how it'll be manageable to combine the beginning of an interpreting career with having children. I imagine it would be a bad idea to do an MA CI and then take a break (let alone two) for pregnancies and the first months (and even with a very supportive spouse, children will require a lot of time and attention far beyond these first months), but is there ever a truly "good" moment? Also, won't it be a huge financial struggle, having to both establish oneself on the professional market and afford the time off and additional expenses? In whatever order I think them through, the only result I come up with is "you'll be very tight".

I'd be very grateful for any replies or personal stories that can shed light on the difficulties / solutions relating to this question. Thank you!

asked 17 Jun '18, 06:57

ibex's gravatar image


edited 17 Jun '18, 16:05

Gaspar's gravatar image

Gaspar ♦♦

Since you are planning such a long way ahead (2 more MAs and a few years working) it would seem worth planning to avoid what can be avoided. Colleagues have had kids soon after graduation but I think most people would agree that professionally it's a bad idea to have kids during your CI course and/or immediately after graduating from a CI course. Ideally you would want to spend a few years after graduation getting established. The learning curve is steep after graduation and you don't want to forget what you've learnt. It's easier to go back to interpreting if you've had a hundred or more days' experience than if you have only course-based interpreting experience. (Getting established might be anything between 3-4 years at international institutions or longer on private markets).

So plan at least 5/6 years where CI is your priority (1 or 2 years for the course the rest for getting a foothold on the market). You could have kids before you study interpreting, but that should probably be 4 or 5 years before (for the youngest kid!)... or afterwards. That's even longer-term planning than you're already involved in!

Freelance interpreting does make it possible to spend a lot of time with your kids when they are little... but on the other hand the work is irregular, which makes child-care complicated. Once they go to school things get easier.

Whether or not you plan to work as a local or travel will also make a big difference too. Nights away from home when you have kids are a pain in all sorts of ways.

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answered 28 Jun '18, 12:23

Andy's gravatar image



Thank you for your answer!

(15 Aug '18, 19:25) ibex

If I may (because I actually did do this myself)~ On one hand, it is true that starting out money is probably already tight and work is slim pickings, so the idea of taking time off for a baby is terrifying. On the other hand- work is already slim pickings, so you're not missing out on much. If you get a degree, work your way into the market, and then after 4 years think about having a baby, the idea of taking "time off" to do it and stepping away from an already-established career is very daunting. At least at the very start there are few clients to forget about you or write you off.

Of course it depends on how much time you're planning on taking "off"- I wouldn't advise taking a whole year off after childbirth, even though that's common in some places. Four to six months tops seems reasonable. Success juggling this, like with any career, also very much depends on how supportive your partner is and the baby's temperament. Again, like with any job, there are some choices you have to make- I don't know how anyone would be able to breastfeed a whole year while also working as a freelance interpreter. On the other hand, the flexible and very seasonal nature of our jobs is pretty convenient much of the time, at least when it comes to having small kids.

I'm actually glad I had the baby stuff over and done with ASAP, at this point I'd be afraid to step away. To be honest, there's never a "right time" for these kind of things, other than when you yourself want it to happen.

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answered 16 Jul '18, 16:14

InesdC's gravatar image


Thanks for your answer!

(15 Aug '18, 19:26) ibex
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question asked: 17 Jun '18, 06:57

question was seen: 2,629 times

last updated: 15 Aug '18, 19:26 is a community-driven website open to anyone with questions and/or answers about interpreting, i.e. spoken language translation

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