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A Day in the Life of an Interpreter

Henry Mcdowell 22 Oct 2020
A Day in the Life of an Interpreter

Due to a huge interest in globalization, translation became a very popular profession. Interpreters became an integral part of modern processes and help to connect nations, exchange cultures, share ideas every day. But what people actually know about a day in the life of an interpreter? 

It's Not Child's Play

One may think that interpreting is not very hard, especially if a person is bilingual and knows two languages perfectly. The thing is there are a lot of underwater rocks. To become a translator or successful interpreter you need to be qualified in a certain industry or sphere, know all the terminology, laws, policies, regulations, and more. A professional interpreter must:

  1. Be very attentive and able to concentrate for long periods of time.

  2. Reflect the volume, tone, and inflection of a speaker.

  3. Nonjudgmental & objective.

  4. Explain all cultural-specific issues, attitudes, home-remedies, or other concepts to ensure mutual understanding.

  5. Communicate ideas effectively to an audience.

An experienced, qualified interpreter must not:

  1. Allow omissions, additions, subtractions, or other changes/alterations while interpreting.

  2. Distract from the conversation.

  3. Have poor verbal communication skills.

  4. Be biased, show emotions or feelings regarding the discussed topic or speaker.

  5. Have a bad memory or poor time-management skills.

Having all this in mind and being able to cope with a high level of stress does not make a day in the life of a translator look very easy.

Read also: Hire a professional SDS translation company and get an accurate translation.

Typical Day in the Life of an Interpreter

Not many people think about the routine of the interpreters as they always stay in the shade, even during serious negotiations and business meetings. TheWordPoint decided to shed the light on a typical day of a conference translator. This information will be very useful for those who plan to hire an interpreter or become one. Here is an exclusive interview with Alberto Rogers, a simultaneous interpreter based in the Dominican Republic. He agreed to share his routine with our readers. 

• When do you usually wake up?

I am an early bird and always wake up between 6:30 – 7:00 am.

• Do you work from home, from the office, co-working, etc?

Currently from home, exclusively; before the pandemic, it was a mix of on-site assignments (hotels, convention centers, etc) and from home.

• Do you plan the whole day beforehand or go with the flow?

Scheduled assignments plan some days for me. For all else, I’ve created my own work schedule, with short pauses and lunch breaks. I keep a log of my hours worked per day, which ranges from 8.5 to 9.5 on average.

• How many pages/words are you able to translate during one working day?

If the terminology is not too technical and the original document is well written, 4000 to 5000 words. Although as of right now translation is occasional for me, I focus on interpretation.

• Where and how do you find your clients?

In my market, it is mostly “word of mouth”. Through my Instagram business account, I’ve met great colleagues that have recommended/referred me to different websites/companies. I’ve done my own share of online exploring

• What tools do you use every day?

For OPI/RSI interpreting: WordReference, Linguee, DeepL, ProZ, Google searches, Google Translate Google Maps (in OPI you have to write down lots of addresses).

• How did COVID-19 influence your job, routine, income?

It was quite the overhaul. I love the balance of going on-site, spending time with colleagues, dressing up, and sure enough, hotel food which is mostly very good. Now it’s all from home. You have to discipline yourself. I was already saving to invest in better equipment for RSI. The pandemic forced me to dive in faster, even moved to a quieter location; was fortunate enough to find one fast. Investing in Tier 1 equipment and excellent internet is a must to provide top-quality service, and thus be comfortable.

• When does your working day end?

Usually between 7:15 – 7:45 pm

• What are your hobbies? Are they connected to your profession or they are the opposite?

Baseball is the love of my life, both MLB and my country’s winter team. Right after that, there’s hiking. If there’s room for a third, it would be watching gangster series on TV.

• Do you work on weekends? How often do you take vacations?

On Sundays I always interpret one hour simultaneous for a church; will do occasional OPI to make up weekday hours. I take vacations around New Year’s and a couple of weekends during the year.

Read also: Where to find the best Polish to English translation service?

Key Takeaways

This is how a typical daily routine of an interpreter looks like. One should remember that being self-employed includes not only working but also requires entrepreneurship and time management. All in all, we hope this post will help you see the interpreter’s routine in a more realistic light and embrace some ideas about scheduling your own daily activities. Stay tuned for more similar content. Should we write about a day in the life of a Japanese translator, Spanish localization expert, or any other language specialist? Let us know your thoughts or ideas. If willing to participate, email us at [email protected] or dm us @the.wordpoint on Instagram.

About the Interviewee

Alberto Rogers

Based in the Dominican Republic

Simultaneous interpretation since 2009

OPI-VRI since 2004

RSI ready with Tier 1 Equipment

Instagram: @alberto_rogers_interprete

LinkedIn: Alberto Rogers


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