There is nothing in this world more diverse than culture and language. By estimation, there are more than 1,000 different languages in the world. Some people have the ability to understand multiple languages; it is, however, not possible for any given person to be able to understand all the languages. It is for this reason that interpreters are necessary. Interpreters have knowledge and understanding of multiple languages and play a major role in the interpretation of languages that are foreign to the target audience or listeners. There are important differences between an interpreter and a translator. A translator basically converts one language to another word for word. An interpreter not only converts one language to another, but helps to bring out the specific concepts and ideas contained in the particular message. Interpretation therefore is not an easy task, as it involves a lot of brainstorming in order to pass the relevant message without distorting it in any way.
Freelance essentially means flexible. It then follows that a freelancer is one whose work is not fixed and who works with as many people as possible. Interpreting is a very involved and demanding career. Attention to detail is of paramount importance to enable an interpreter to deliver accurate information. In addition, the interpreter must be able to understand the concept or the underlying idea in the information to be conveyed. Interpreters play a major role in day-to-day activities by connecting people who would ordinarily be unable to communicate. They therefore play a key role in eliminating language barriers between people of different ethnic and racial backgrounds.
Interpreters are required in situations in which there is a need for people to understand each other but they do not share the same language. Major situations, circumstances or places in which interpreters are required include court rooms, interviews and interrogations with the police, parliamentary proceedings, international conferences and meetings, and political, legal or business meetings to mention but a few. Accuracy is the bottom line in interpretation. An interpreter must be accurate in order to prevent distortion of a message. Distortion of messages, however slight, may change the intended meaning.
It is clear that, as a demanding and involving job, freelance interpreter work requires certain skills. The very first and obvious skill required is the ability to speak clearly and understand multiple languages. Besides that, it is also required that a freelance interpreter be a degree holder in linguistics. Fluency in the languages includes all forms of speech, including slang, and is a requirement that a freelance interpreter must possess. In addition, a Masters degree or a post-graduate diploma in various techniques of interpreting may be required. Knowledge of current and prevailing affairs is of great importance, as is an exceptionally good memory and ability to quickly grasp new concepts. It is also important for a freelance interpreter to be able to easily interact with people, as a freelance interpreter job is quite social. As a freelance interpreter, it is also important to enhance one's skills further by joining the Chartered Institute of Linguists.
For a considerably long time, freelance interpreting and indeed interpreting in general was not considered a professional job. Not until recently have interpreters been accorded professional recognition and salaried pay. For that reason, freelance interpreters do not receive very high remuneration. On average, an interpreter is likely to earn $20,000 on a yearly basis. This can, however, increase to $60,000 as one gains experience. Earnings also depend on the working hours, as freelance work is not permanent or fixed. Analysts anticipate that, as the freelance interpretation field continues to grow, there will be a concurrent increase in pay.
The freelance interpreter's job ordinarily requires a 35-hour work week, and sometimes requires working over the weekend. Commitment and dedication is of utmost importance in this career field. Extended working hours into the night may also be necessary. Maintaining one's concentration for long periods is an obligation of the position and can be a challenge. One major advantage associated with being a freelance interpreter is that one gets a great deal of exposure to different people, including dignitaries and people in senior management. It is therefore possible to establish high-level contacts in the line of work.
In order to develop one's career as a freelance interpreter, networking is highly recommended. This essentially means keeping in constant contact with various institutions that regularly offer interpreting positions. Freelance interpreters have the opportunity to make application to institutions like the European Commission to become staff, after which they may be promoted to senior level. Besides the European Commission, there are many other opportunities in the private sector for freelance interpreters. Careers closely related to freelance interpreter careers include translators and lecturing in institutions of higher learning.
In conclusion, freelance interpreting is one career field that not only allows one to grow and develop, but also gives one a type of exposure that may not be readily available in other career fields. It is demanding and success in the field is achieved by exercising patience, dedication and commitment.