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Lately I've noticed more interpreting students not wanting to go into conference interpreting but still wanting to be interpreters.

What kind of markets exist for that?

How to get into those markets? What accreditations / certifications do exist?

What kind of advice can you give?

asked 17 Oct '14, 07:10

Zorej's gravatar image


In the US, my experience is that the interpreting world is much more permeable and flexible than in Europe. Maybe this is because we have so few international organizations, so we have to look for work everywhere!

As an interpreter, I found work in international organizations; private market AIIC-organized conferences; private market conferences not organized by AIIC or IOs; federal, state and local courts; for lawyers; for the US Government doing conferences, treaty negotiations, press conferences, accompanying delegations studying a particular business, field of activity or law; for businesses in negotiations, visits, etc.; for television such as C-Span or CNN; telephonic interpreting for hospitals, police stations, insurance companies...

And that's just me, over the course of a busy 14 years. You name it, it has been interpreted by someone. I have even interpreted for marathon runners from other countries who came to our state to race, as well as for a group touring the inside of a containment facility at a nuclear reactor. Not to mention on the farm specializing in the artificial insemination of cows...

In some cases a qualification was needed: the US Government has tests, and these may give you access to a larger market (for example the DC court system only accepts interpreters who have passed a certain level of the US State Dept exam); the NY court system has their own tests; the UN and ICAO have their own tests...

However, private clients tend not to require any type of qualification or accreditation, because they haven't heard of them before. And in fact, if you have a court interpreter certification, they will choose you over someone with merely a degree in CI because they are "certified."

This is to say that you are only limited by your imagination, your energy, your marketing and negotiating skills, and the mores on your market. And all of this could be true for Europe as well - I know of people who have a multitude of clients and work for lawyers, IOs, private market clients, etc., while others work as a freelance interpreter pretty much for only one IO.

For something to start with, Chris Guichot de Fortis has written a good document entitled: So I Finally Have My Conference Interpreting Degree - Now What Do I Do? It doesn't only speak about CI, but about interpreting in general.

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answered 17 Oct '14, 10:00

JuliaP's gravatar image


edited 17 Oct '14, 10:07

Gaspar's gravatar image

Gaspar ♦♦

...interpretation is indeed a larger field than merely CI :-), non-conference would cover community (or PSI - public services interpretation, eg court, health, immigration etc) and ad-hoc (business, escort, etc). Accreditation/certification is either national or entity-specific ( when it exists... and/or is compulsory for PSI work) and there are some dedicated curricula to access same.

I've recently been hearing references to an innovative post-graduate training approach, whereby a first year would "qualify" for non-conference and the second year for CI.

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answered 17 Oct '14, 07:38

msr's gravatar image



I've recently been hearing references to an innovative post-graduate training approach, whereby a first year would "qualify" for non-conference and the second year for CI.

The Flemish Hogeschool-Universiteit Brussel does offer a 1 year + 1 year course. The one-year masters is a degree in general interpreting. Graduates then can apply for the one-year post-graduate course in conference interpreting. An excellent solution. People who don't want to take the CI examination don't have to. People who fail the CI examination still can work as interpreters and hold a masters degree.

(17 Oct '14, 07:49) Gaspar ♦♦

That does sound like a good idea - I've always been against the idea that some of the students try their best but just can't pass the CI exam at the end of their two years and are left without anything to show for their studies. Moreover, some of them will go out and work anyway, with an "I'll show them!" attitude. It would be much better if they had a diploma, for example in applied linguistics, so if they carried on in other fields they wouldn't have to go through the pain and trouble of having to go to school for another two years.

(17 Oct '14, 09:22) JuliaP

Glendon in Toronto offers the same sort of scheme (I believe)

(17 Oct '14, 11:23) Andy

The University of Ghent does as well

(18 Oct '14, 05:12) Camille Collard
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question asked: 17 Oct '14, 07:10

question was seen: 3,336 times

last updated: 18 Oct '14, 05:12 is a community-driven website open to anyone with questions and/or answers about interpreting, i.e. spoken language translation

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