Qualifications for most interpreter jobs generally require applicants to hold a bachelors degree. However, a degree in language studies is not always necessary. Degrees in other fields can provide an expertise in a particular subject in need of interpreters. Anyone looking to become an interpreter should take courses in English writing and comprehension, foreign languages, and computer proficiency. A broader knowledge of the culture, history, politics, and sociology of the regions where your second language is spoken can also be very beneficial. Interpreters often need additional training to learn the trade and should look into specialized training programs, courses, and conferences.
The most important qualification for any interpreter is two have complete fluency and mastery of both English and a second language. Interpreters must have good concentration and listening skills in order to effectively convey another person's speech. You will also need to be able to speak and write clearly in the languages that you are interpreting. It is also important to have an awareness of any cultural issues that may arise during interpretation. Knowing the words without an in-depth knowledge of cultural differences can sometimes lead to misunderstandings. Business skills can also be useful as many interpreters work freelance or are self-employed.
There are a number of ways to gain valuable experience before looking for employment as an interpreter. Many interpreters grew up communicating in both languages in which they work, though this is not necessarily a prerequisite. Language and cultural experience can be gained through spending time abroad or working with community organizations which interact with people of other cultures, such as new immigrants. Volunteer work teaching English to other cultures can be an excellent way to increase your interpreter qualifications.
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