5 Essential Skills That Every Interpreter Should Have

By Atlas LS

Interpreters provide real-time translation at a wide range of events and meetings and can also translate written materials, including books, advertisements, and video subtitles. Interpreting is vital for facilitating communication in crucial situations. To become an interpreter, one must be fluent in the language, quick-thinking, and possess tact.

Here are five key skills that every interpreter must possess to perform their job effectively:

Language proficiency: interpreters must have excellent language proficiency in at least two languages, including an in-depth understanding of expressions, idioms, subtleties, and metaphors used in each language. They must be able to translate on-the-spot without relying on dictionaries because of the fast-paced nature of their work. Ideally, an interpreter should be able to translate between the two languages in both directions, with the best results often achieved when translating into their native language.

Certifications: to be an effective interpreter, it is necessary to have more than just bilingualism. To demonstrate your translation and interpreting skills in two languages, completing courses and obtaining certifications is recommended. These certifications show potential employers that you have the necessary skills.

Specialized Knowledge: interpreters in certain fields may be required to have expertise in specific subjects such as business, economics, politics, science, technology, or accounting. Gaining knowledge in these areas can improve your career prospects as an interpreter and potentially lead to higher salaries.

Cultural Awareness: in addition to fluency in several languages, interpreters must have a deep understanding of the cultures associated with those languages. This includes recognizing nonverbal cues and customs specific to a particular group or region. A strong cultural understanding helps ensure that the interpreter accurately conveys the intended message of a non-native speaker.

Effective Listening Skills: interpreters must be not only excellent speakers but also possess strong listening skills. As the voice of others, it is essential to pay close attention to ensure that the message is accurately delivered. Interpreters may encounter various speakers on the job, some of whom may speak rapidly, making it important to be flexible in one’s listening abilities.

Interpreter skills being used in conference by three people at a table