A woman working in Conference Interpretation Services

Pursuing a Career in Conference Interpreting

In About Lighthouse, Blog by Rafael MorelLeave a Comment

Conference interpreting is a niche job that requires a unique skillset. People interested in pursuing conference interpreting as a career tend to be sensitive, able to listen and talk at the same time, intuitive, and empathetic. Of course, conference interpreting also requires fluencyin at least two languages, thought fluency is not enough to secure job of a conference interpreter. There is also a variety of soft skills that go into the job. Read on to learn more about what is required to be a successful interpreter.


The basic requirement is a bachelor’s degree. Preferred degrees include political science, business, communications, languages, computer sciences, and economics. Interpreters are often hired because of their knowledge of a topic that is relevant to the conference. For example, an interpreter with a computer science degree would be preferable to translate at a tech conference. This is especially relevant for corporate conferences.

Fluency in Multiple Languages

Translation to English is one of the most common needs. Therefore,fluency in English and at least one more language is a basic requirement to pursue a career in conference interpreting. However, there are many languages spoken in the world, and as such there is demand for fluency in a variety of languages. Some of the most in demand fluencies include Farsi, Chinese, and the various dialects of India.

Technological Skills

Conference interpreting is much more than just being able to translate. Technology plays apivotal role, and interpreters have to be skilled with computers and audiovisual equipment.

Soft Skills

Interpreting is much more than translating one language to another. Part of translating is understanding tone, intent, context, and idioms. Discretion is another aspect of translating that comes in to play when providing services in an intimate setting. Translators may witness or be required to translate communications that are of personal and sensitive nature. Translators also work in teams, so the ability to work in a team environment is paramount.

Understand the Environment

The people who provide conference interpreting services are the unsung heroes. The environmental conditions often require extended periods of sitting. Interpreters are also required to focus and be fully engaged in listening for extended periods of time. As the unsung heroes, interpreters should also expect be comfortable with being taken for granted.

This is a concise list of the required skills to pursue a career in conference interpreting. People who are successful in this career tend to be excellent students, amazing communicators, and take pride in being in the background “pulling the strings.” Conference interpreting is not a job for people who need to be in the spotlight, prefer to work alone, or are uncomfortable working with diverse groups of people.

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