For reasons of technical obsolescence, will not be migrating with us to our new website and will be shutting down on 31 July 2020. All content will be archived in a usable format, accessible upon request, pending a decision on a possible future successor.

First-time posters: please review the site's moderation policy

Names of interpreters and their language combinations are easily found online.

So, when organising teams of interpreters, why should a client consider hiring a consultant interpreter? What are the benefits?

asked 09 Feb '12, 16:16

Marta%20Piera%20Marin's gravatar image

Marta Piera ...

edited 09 Feb '12, 16:28

Vincent%20Buck's gravatar image

Vincent Buck

Most professional interpreters have the skills, the expertise and the qualifications to do their job, which is to interpret simultaneously and consecutively into languages they master. But only some of them specialize in what is another facet of the profession.

As has been said above, a consultant interpreter will select a team of interpreters according to proximity, languages and specialization. Being an interpreter himself, he has an insider’s knowledge of interpreting. He will recruit teams that achieve the best value for money as the program evolves. He can also arrange interpreting equipment, if need be. He will provide on-site coordination and will liaise at all time with the organiser.

A consultant interpreter is the client’s peace of mind.

permanent link

answered 07 Apr '12, 14:27

Danielle's gravatar image


Consultant interpreters work with a large group of interpreters. They will know who is the most appropriate interpreter for a particular job in terms of language combination, skills, field of expertise and type of interpretation (simultaneous, consecutive, etc). They can find the right interpreter faster than the client and guarantee that the whole team will work to the professional standards offered to that client. Another big advantage is that the distribution of documents is centralized in only one person, the consultant interpreter, who will make sure that all the interpreters on the team receive the documents they need to prepare and perform to the best of their ability.

Consultant interpreters will also advise clients on how to make the best use of interpretation services and what is needed of them for the interpreters do an excellent job (documents, slide show, etc). If need be, they will advise on sound equipment and location of the booth, explaining, for example, why interpreters should have a good visual of the speaker. They will liaise between all the parties involved in a conference (organizers, speakers, interpreters and the sound equipment team) before and during the meeting, a situation that can become chaotic if twenty different interpreters were to do this individually.

Consultant interpreters are living proof of teamwork or as the French say esprit de corps.

permanent link

answered 13 Feb '12, 17:29

Vero's gravatar image


Let me rephrase the question a bit.

Why don't clients call on individual interpreters when they need interpreting? Why do they call agencies instead or, maybe, consultant interpreters?

Because clients like to talk to people who will sound as though they can offer a solution to their problems. They know that they have a 'translation' problem, and they want to get rid of it. They don't want even more problems trying to understand how different interpreting may be to translation, let alone how to put a team together, contracting the interpreters individually, dealing with everyone of them on the phone or email, sending documents, paying 20 invoices.

A good provider of interpreting services is somebody who understands how the client feels about it, and will happily take the burden away from them.

Now that does not mean to say that every good provider is also a good interpreter, or can arrange a team of good interpreters, but that's something that the client will only notice after the fact, if ever.

That's why calling on a consultant interpreter is a good guess. At least clients will be talking to a professional interpreter and not just any business guy running a translation agency. Hopefully, the consultant interpreter will also have mastered the art of client speak in addition to the craft of interpreting.

permanent link

answered 16 Feb '12, 16:16

Vincent%20Buck's gravatar image

Vincent Buck

Point taken! But I am just concerned over a potential two class society. Also, in the performing arts industry the ease of finding information online has led to disintermediation.

(16 Feb '12, 17:18) Tanja

p.s.: and of course I did not want to insinuate that CIs make an inappropriate margin at the expense of interpreters (that would be an agency model, CIs earn their margins from clients) but I just wanted to point out that what we are seeing right now is not disintermediation (centralized handling is not exactly compatible with direct individual contracts with principals).

(16 Feb '12, 17:24) Tanja

...well, basically for the same reason one's best advised not to hire directly individual members of a construction team :-)... we're different but not that special, in this regard!

permanent link

answered 11 Feb '12, 11:25

msr's gravatar image


Whilst I have the greatest respect for CIs I don’t necessarily agree with what some of the points mentioned by Vero. With the exception of the one-stop-shop/centralisation aspect, I think that most of the aforementioned USPs apply to any member of aiic.

In the hope of not sounding too pompous I would just like to mention, for instance, AIIC’s (and thus our) Code of Professional Ethics: which kind of debunks some of the alleged USPs of CIs mentioned above.

  • Professionalism […] which all members of the Association shall be bound to respect in their work as conference interpreters language combination, skills, field of expertise and type of interpretation (simultaneous, consecutive, etc
  • Members of the Association shall not accept any assignment for which they are not qualified (Article 3)
  • It shall be the duty of members of the Association to afford their colleagues moral assistance and collegiality (Article 6)

Having said this, I do agree with the other points (centralisation, one-stop-shop solution). So whilst I beg to differ with regard to the points mentioned above, the main advantage, in my view, was summed up in an excellent manner by Vero:

They will liaise between all the parties involved in a conference (organizers, speakers, interpreters and the sound equipment team) before and during the meeting, a situation that can become chaotic if twenty different interpreters were to do this individually.

(Although I, for instance, have one client who found me and my two colleagues (independently) over an online directory. As a team we jointly agreed that one of us would serve as a "consultant interpreter“/the main interface with the client and I still think this was one of the best ideas ever. Every time we meet (which is every few months) I am still extremely grateful to her for taking care of all the logistics.

So I guess it’s horses for courses and there are many more forms of teamwork than meet the eye:)

permanent link

answered 15 Feb '12, 14:07

Tanja's gravatar image


edited 16 Feb '12, 05:29

Your answer
toggle preview

Follow this question

By Email:

Once you sign in you will be able to subscribe for any updates here



Answers and Comments

Markdown Basics

  • *italic* or _italic_
  • **bold** or __bold__
  • link:[text]( "title")
  • image?![alt text](/path/img.jpg "title")
  • numbered list: 1. Foo 2. Bar
  • to add a line break simply add two spaces to where you would like the new line to be.
  • basic HTML tags are also supported

Question tags:


question asked: 09 Feb '12, 16:16

question was seen: 8,461 times

last updated: 07 Apr '12, 14:27 is a community-driven website open to anyone with questions and/or answers about interpreting, i.e. spoken language translation

about | faq | terms of use | privacy policy | content policy | disclaimer | contact us

This collaborative website is sponsored and hosted by AIIC, the International Association of Conference Interpreters.