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Hello I'm looking for a short term training ot a stage to become an Interpreter. I I'm fluent in English, Spanish, French, Hebrew and Arabic... My A languages would be Spanish and English, I only speak, and read Hebrew, Arabic from living in Middle east countries.

I don't have a License of any kind.

Currently I live in France
Im too old to start a 6 year training, and I would like to know if there would be a different way. Working and studying at the same time? any advise??? Thank you.

asked 30 Sep '14, 11:14

Gigi's gravatar image


edited 30 Sep '14, 11:52

Gaspar's gravatar image

Gaspar ♦♦

I don't have a License of any kind.

Do you mean a bachelor's degree?

any advise???

Make sure what your A language is and whether it is strong enough.

If you haven't studied at university at all, you will need to do an undergraduate degree in any subject, preferably law, economics or politics to strengthen your general knowledge. In the meantime, you'll need to work on your language skills, both active and passive.

After those three years, you will need to do an MA in conference interpreting. It will teach you the interpreting techniques and give you access to the interpreting market.

Im too old to start a 6 year training

Some do start their interpreting studies at 40. It's one of those few jobs where being a few years older is an advantage.

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answered 30 Sep '14, 11:34

Gaspar's gravatar image

Gaspar ♦♦

edited 30 Sep '14, 11:51

Hi Gaspar, Thank you for your answer, it's encouraging! :)

By License I meant College/University degree... I only finished High-school.

Well I guess I'll just start somewhere... thanks again

(30 Sep '14, 12:36) Gigi

Hi Gigi,

There are one-year programs in the U.K., though from what I have seen they are all for Masters Degrees. Older students can do very well on those, as they have a much better and more wide-ranging knowledge of the world.

It is possible to become an interpreter, even a conference interpreter, without a Masters degree. But you should keep in mind that there are very many ways to be an interpreter other than only working for international organizations such as the UN or the EU: at business meetings, accompanying delegations, during negotiations, for local or national courts, for hospitals, for NGOs, for governments at various levels, as well as during private conferences. I do have an MA in CI, but was working alongside good interpreters who had never studied interpreting.

However, the one thing that does seem to be non-negotiable is a university degree or equivalent. You could have to interpret someone from the street who was involved in a traffic accident and doesn't speak any language well anymore; or the lawyer helping a newly independent state formulate their new laws on religion or bankruptcy; or a diplomat with 30 years' experience traveling the world; or a group of astronomers speaking about space surveillance or nuclear physicists discussing disposal of uranium, all while quoting poetry, referring back to historical precedents, or simply mentioning a book that just came out (again, all from my own experience).

While you could specialize, it can be hard to do so at the beginning of a career. The interpreter would need the equivalent of a university education (as well as a native ability to extrapolate from first principles) to be able to handle this varied input professionally.

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answered 05 Oct '14, 06:16

JuliaP's gravatar image


It is possible to become an interpreter, even a conference interpreter, without a Masters degree.

Could one still really succeed nowadays without the formal training? Would it then be more likely to happen on some specific markets (I'm thinking US, private sector)?

I've repeatedly heard that given the available trainings, no one would hire untrained people. I'm not sure how much of that talk is a turf defending strategy. Nevertheless, going to an interpreting school seems to make things a lot easier when it comes to know people and get known.

(05 Oct '14, 09:54) Gaspar ♦♦

Hi Gaspar - yes, on the European market if you only want to work for international organizations like the EU or UN, you must have a degree or equivalent experience. And an MA in CI certainly smooths the way, and provides polish and contacts immediately that you wouldn't have otherwise.

However, this IO market is a very specific market in and of itself, though it seems to be much larger by the number of replies and questions that refer to it here. In reality, the private market sector, and the US market, as well as the Russian market, the Latin American market, etc. are each much larger than this IO market.

Having worked on both sides of the pond, I can say I have been in the booth literally and figuratively (doing consec, accompanying delegations, etc.) with people who have never had any interpreting training, but had a very good secondary and tertiary education. They were well-read, fully comfortable with literary references, able to follow tech-speak. The only thing they had trouble with was anything approaching conference consecutive - as long as it was half-sentences, they were fine.

Also, remember that few markets officially define what an interpreter is and what training is necessary. So, with no university degree and no MA (or equivalent) in CI, no, you can't be a conference interpreter in the EU for IOs, but you can certainly be an interpreter, and even a conference interpreter, for anyone else.

(05 Oct '14, 10:55) JuliaP

Gaspar, I've met an interpreter about our age, with no formal interpreting training, working on a Western European private market and providing quality simultaneous interpreting. The interpreter's background (truly bilingual and with conference interpreters in the family) has definitely helped, though.

In my opinion, even nowadays it's still possible to succeed as a conference interpreter without formal training - but you need a lot of luck and preferably a rare language combination (if I'm not mistaken, there is no CI training in Poland e.g. for SV<>PL, HU<>PL or even NL<>PL and CZ<>PL, let alone Chinese, Japanese or Korean).

Still, I don't see any really good reasons to skip the training - sure, it's an investment of your time and money (and might imply the need to learn yet another language first) but all of that will pay off at the end of the day.

(05 Oct '14, 13:26) Joanna
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question asked: 30 Sep '14, 11:14

question was seen: 3,580 times

last updated: 05 Oct '14, 13:26 is a community-driven website open to anyone with questions and/or answers about interpreting, i.e. spoken language translation

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