A day in the life of an interpreter

Being an interpreter is a demanding job: it takes years of experience, skill, discipline and hard work. What’s more, professional interpreters often deal with difficult or emotional situations and have to maintain professionalism whilst consecutively thinking and speaking in different languages.

We asked one of our Manchester based interpreters, Carmen, who has been interpreting for alomst 10 years, to give us an idea of what it is like to work as an interpreter. Her principle languages are English and Romanian and she holds a Diploma in Public Service Interpreting (DPSI).

What is it like to be a professional interpreter?

I really do love my job, including its challenges! Through the course of what I do, I’m lucky to meet some very interesting people and it doesn’t feel like going to work. For me it feels as if I’m meeting someone new, someone vulnerable who, through working with brilliant, multidisciplinary support teams, I’m helping to get the right outcome and enabling them to live a better life.

Essentially, my job is to facilitate communication between the non-English speaker and the relevant professionals.

On a daily basis I see how important my role is and because of that, I get great job satisfaction. Don’t get me wrong, the role of an interpreter is an impartial one, I never offer my own opinion or advice. I interpret for the various qualified professionals who are working with the person or family in question.

Often, this involves explaining to people about the cultural differences between the UK and their country of origin which ultimately leads to them living a happier, more successful life in the UK.

What are the biggest challenges in interpreting?

I once worked on a case with a Romanian family whose children were taken into foster care. This was simply due to their non-English speaking mother not understanding the standards of care here in the UK. Different cultures have different ways of doing things. The children and their mother were distressed and working alongside social services, I saw them a number of times. Ultimately, the children were settled in with their new foster carer and we helped to educate the mother. Happily, and thanks to the work of the great social services team, Mum gained a solid understanding of what she needed to do and the children were returned to her.

It felt very rewarding to play a role in bringing this family back together in happier circumstances.

What is your typical working day?

I can be asked to go to A&E departments, police stations, GP surgeries or make home visits with a health visitor; I could be working with a consultant surgeon on a ward or assisting local council staff with a home assessment.

No two days are the same, meaning that I have to be well organised and ready for anything!

What is it like to work for Capita TI?

Capita TI has a dedicated portal for interpreters, which enables me to view the various jobs available at any time. The online system allows me to accept jobs there and then, a valuable benefit to me, as it can be difficult to take calls whilst I am working. The system manages my calendar appointments and payments with ease, allowing me to work with clients and not be distracted with administration.

What skills and qualifications are needed to be an interpreter?

Obviously, it’s important to be a good listener, and be alert at all times during the appointment. If you miss the slightest word or sentence, it could have a detrimental impact.

You’ll often have to deal with stressful or emotional situations, and you need to be able to cope in these circumstances, and demonstrate patience and compassion.

The level of qualification depends on your language pair – the level that Capita TI usually require vary from Community Interpreting Level 3 to DPSI level.

Apply to be an interpreter

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