I am a college student from the United States who's currently pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Spanish. In the future, I hope to obtain a Master's degree in Conference Interpretation. I have been learning my prospective B language (Spanish) since I was in middle school and my prospective C language (Russian) since shortly before I began university.
Is there considerable demand for this combination? If so, where? Initially, my plan was to study and work in Europe, but from what I've recently heard, the interpretation market in the U.S. has grown considerably in recent years, and languages such as French (in which I have a reasonably high level, although I'm more inclined to focus on the two languages mentioned above) and German are in far greater demand in the Continent. Should I aim to work in the private market?
It would mainly depend on where you want to live and work.
If you want to live and work in the US, any C language would pretty much be ignored unless you pass the UN test (see Alex's reply as well, though I recently heard that there may be some change in thinking, as Russian is so important for them to have). But your Spanish would have to be very strong for you to compete with native Spanish speakers (just as my Russian has to be strong to compete with native Russian speakers).
If you want to live and work in Europe, then your Spanish B will come in handy sometimes, but you would most likely get more work into your native English and from all of your passive languages - if you add French, you would be a shoe-in for the UN; add German as well and the EU would be knocking at your door. Plus the Council of Europe, the OSCE, etc. Not to mention the market for conferences organized by AIIC interpreters (much larger in Europe than the US). Also, remember that Europe is not monolithic - for example, the OSCE rarely hires anyone from outside Vienna; the UN in Geneva (with all its specialized organizations) rarely hires anyone from outside Geneva; the OECD rarely hires anyone from outside Paris...
In short, your market in Europe would be more focused on international organizations, using more of your languages, and your market in the US would be more focused on private market.
Interestingly enough, with Spanish as a B, you may also have to have at least two different interpreting styles as well. It seems that in many meetings in the US, as there are so many people who speak both languages to some degree, if the interpretation doesn't sound a lot like the original then delegates correct the interpreter or think s/he is doing a bad job. Whereas at the UN level, or in Europe, delegates (and colleagues) want the English to sound like English and the Spanish to sound like Spanish, without copying each other slavishly. I don't know how prevalent this is in the US, but this is what I have heard from interpreters on both sides of the pond.
answered 20 Oct '14, 09:48
EN<>SP is a good A/B combo for FL work all over the hispanic world and the States (although probably preferably the other way round, ie A:SP + B:EN in the fomer)... and a Russian C will open further doors (B would of course be best, for bi-active work);the UN would of course be your 1st choice (an extra FR:C wouldn't hurt in that setting) amongst institutions and, if considering work in Europe, NATO and the OSCE spring to mind.
One point of clarification if you hope to work for the UN system with an English A: passive French is absolutely essential, full-stop. I think this is largely due to the longstanding practice of the FR and EN booths always acting as "pivot" for relay in 6-language meetings and departure from it could be a major headache for manpower planning. Because the EN booth is automatically assumed to have French, I've sometimes had the impression that people are rather dismissive about it but be warned, when push comes to shove, really good passive French is important.
answered 20 Oct '14, 05:43