How Do I Become a Chinese Interpreter?

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  • Written By: Jennifer Leigh
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 27 June 2019
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The main component necessary to become a Chinese interpreter is the ability to speak both Chinese and another language. Chinese has 12 dialects that are spoken in different parts of the country, so it is also necessary to decide which type of Chinese to learn and speak. This can require a combination of education and experience, depending on the skills of the individual. To become a Chinese interpreter in the business world also requires the ability to understand and communicate business terms and expressions, which might require additional education. An understanding of the language's culture is also a plus, as this can keep cultural miscommunications from occurring.

An individual who is not fluent in Chinese will need to learn Chinese in order to become a Chinese interpreter. This might occur through traveling and spending time in China or studying Chinese extensively. Many interpreters grew up speaking two languages, which helps them to have a native grasp on both, but this is not necessary for success. Studying and practicing Chinese is necessary for this job, as fluency is generally required. An understanding of at least one of the 12 Chinese dialects, including Mandarin, Wu and Cantonese, is needed. A bachelor's degree is required for certain jobs regardless of the person's ability to speak Chinese fluently, and having a major in language is helpful.


Individuals wishing to become a Chinese interpreter in the business world need to be well-versed in business terms and expressions in both Chinese and the second language. This might require advanced education at a college or university that offers specializations in business language. Studying the cultures is also important to avoid cultural miscommunications that can be embarrassing for the parties being translated for. Cultural studies are available at many colleges and universities as well as informally through learning, researching and reading about the cultures.

Become a Chinese interpreter by gaining experience in the field of translating through volunteer or internship training. This might not always be possible through a paid job, and volunteer or internship experience provides valuable references as well as networking opportunities within the interpreting business. Travel is also a good way to show potential employers that you are serious about your wish to become a Chinese interpreter because you were willing to spend time in a foreign country in order to learn the language.



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