How Do I Go into Simultaneous Interpreting?

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  • Written By: Jennifer Leigh
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 14 September 2019
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To get into the field of simultaneous interpreting, it is necessary to have knowledge of more than one language as well as the ability to quickly impart information to others. Simultaneous interpreters share information, either verbally or through sign language, just moments after the information is presented. This requires a fluency in the language because the interpreter has to anticipate what will be said next. Go into simultaneous interpreting through a combination of education, knowledge of language, and experience as an interpreter.

Education is not necessarily a requirement for simultaneous interpreting but many jobs prefer that an applicant has a college degree. The main requirement for the position is that you are fluent in more than one language. This can occur by growing up in a bi-lingual household, studying a foreign language extensively, or through travel and spending time in another country. If your main knowledge of a second language is through education, it is vital that you spend time practicing it with someone who is from that country in order to pick up accents and nuances in the language. Book learning will not suffice for jobs in simultaneous interpreting.


The next requirement is the ability to be able to impart information quickly. This means knowing enough about the language that you can almost tell in advance what will be said next or, at the very least, be able to quickly interpret it without hesitating. It is important in simultaneous interpreting to present the information as quickly as possible so that the listener does not lose the context of what the speaker is saying. Doing this requires a grasp on both languages at an advanced level.

Many positions require experience as an interpreter before the employers will hire you as a simultaneous interpreter. Experience can be found through volunteer opportunities and internships during college. Working for free may not be ideal, but it provides valuable training and the possibility of references for future jobs.

Those interested in simultaneous interpreting should consider obtaining a bachelor's degree in linguistics or the language they want to interpret in. This will help when applying for jobs because it shows that you are willing to put in the effort to obtain a degree. Positions can be found through sign language centers, theaters and schools. Other jobs can be found through interpreter associations, government offices and universities where services in this area are often needed.



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