Interpreters convert speech from one language to another.

What does an interpreter do?

Interpreters work with people in situations where they need to understand someone who doesn’t speak the same language as them. They may be involved in interpreting large conferences or lectures, where people from around the world will be in attendance, by listening to speakers through headphones and relaying what is being said. They may also work with smaller groups of people in business meetings. They can also be employed to interpret for people using health, legal or government services, who need to relay important information, but who may not speak the local language well enough to do so. 

What do I need to do to become an interpreter?

You will need to be fluent in at least one foreign language, including knowledge of colloquialisms, slang and culture. You will also need to be able to think quickly and speak clearly to be able to interpret accurately.

For some interpreting roles, it will also be beneficial to have experience in the relevant specialist areas to ensure you have a firm grasp of the terminology that is likely to need interpreting, such as business, law or science.  

Related skills

  • Communication
  • Interpersonal skills

Related subjects

  • Foreign languages

Where to find out more

Where could I be working?

There are three main types of interpreting: conference, consecutive and public service. You might be working for a national or international organisation as a conference interpreter, for a business or private client as a consecutive interpreter, or for a government service as a public service interpreter.

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0

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