22 Jan 2019

Interpreting - a snapshot

Written by Kirsty Heimerl-Moggan

International conference, business and legal interpreter Kirsty Heimerl-Moggan explains why interpreting is her perfect job 

Interpreting has been all I ever wanted to do and, in over 20 years in this profession, I have never regretted my pursuit of my dream. It is one of the most exciting professions I can think of. No two days are ever the same and interpreters travel, meet people from all walks of life and are privy to some of the most interesting events and happenings.

There are three main categories of interpreting work: conference interpreting, business interpreting and public service interpreting (sometimes referred to outside the UK as community interpreting).

Conference interpreters can be hired as in-house staff interpreters by large international organisations such as the UN and EU, or they can be freelances working at large international events and conferences, as well as at political events, European Works Councils or trade fairs.

Business interpreters interpret for business people, often at smaller meetings or business negotiations. They are something of a hybrid form, as this work is sometimes undertaken by conference interpreters or public service interpreters. Public service interpreters work in a whole array of settings – legal (eg for the police, courts and the Crown Prosecution Service), health (eg in hospitals and for GPs) and local government (eg job centres, education and housing).

If your appetite has been whetted, your next question might be: How do I become an interpreter? Conference interpreters are expected to have an MA in Interpreting (sometimes called an MA in Interpreting & Translation, European Masters in Interpreting or similar). These are offered by many universities in the UK and abroad.

There is no specific university training for business interpreters, who tend to have trained as conference and/or public service interpreters. Public service interpreters generally obtain the Diploma in Public Service Interpreting (DPSI), an MA in Public Service Interpreting (offered by some universities) or a similar qualification from abroad.

I recommend that you do what I did and train to undertake as many types of interpreting as possible. As my father once told me: ‘Interpreting is the perfect job for you: you are nosy, you like listening in to other people’s conversations and you love talking – and now you are paid for doing it!’

Visit the web page 'How to become an interpreter' for more information.

About Kirsty

Kirsty Heimerl-Moggan has worked as an international conference, business and legal interpreter since 1994. Her interpreting experience includes G8 and EU meetings. She is a senior lecturer and course leader for the MA in Conference Interpreting at the University of Central Lancashire and a director and headtrainer at Interp-Right Training Consultancy.

This article was first published in the ITI Careers Bulletin.