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Essential Skills That Every Interpreter Needs To Have

Essential Skills That Every Interpreter Needs To Have

Learn Chinese In Singapore, Learn Chinese Language

What goes into the job of an interpreter? You may have seen interpreters at events like political meetings, sports games, or celebrity interviews. However, the job of an interpreter is not to simply translate.

In fact, there is a difference between an interpreter’s job and a translator’s job. Translators usually translate text in written form, for example, for books, advertisements, or video subtitles. On the other hand, interpreters typically refer to those who do on-the-spot translation, which requires more speed, language expertise, and tact.

The interpreter’s job is very important in this world, as it facilitates communication in vital situations. Some skilled interpreters are also very highly paid due to the crucial nature of their job. If the job of an interpreter interests you, you can also get started to becoming one! For a start, here are some of the key skills and qualifications you would need:

Language skills

An interpreter needs strong language skills in at least two languages, which ensures that they are aware of the various expressions, idioms, nuances, and metaphors used in each language. Due to the time-sensitive nature of the work, interpreters should not have to rely on dictionaries to translate.

Some interpreters can translate in both directions, but translating another language into your native language usually gives the best results. If you don’t have a second language you are really good at, you can begin by attending some language classes to learn the Chinese language – due to the massive population of Chinese speakers in the world, Chinese interpreters are always in demand.


After gaining confidence in two languages, it is time to put your translation and interpretation skills to the test! Not just any bilingual person can be an interpreter. That is why there are courses and qualifications to equip would-be interpreters with the necessary skills. These qualifications also serve to show potential employees that you are armed with the needed abilities for the job.

Speciality knowledge

You can’t expect to be interpreting day-to-day conversations all the time. Some industries require interpreters who have specialised knowledge about certain subject fields – for example, business, accounting, politics, economics, science, technology, and so on. Interpreters with specific industry knowledge typically command a higher pay, so if you want to progress as an interpreter, you should study some of these topics.

A good listener

Interpreters should not just be great at speaking. They need to be great listeners as well. Remember, you are the mouthpiece for others, so you should listen carefully to be able to convey the right message. You will encounter many different types of speakers on the job, and some of them may speak like a bullet train. So, it is crucial to be adaptable when it comes to listening.

Good people skills

Interpreters meet a lot of different people on the job, and often people of different cultures. Sometimes, your clients may be high-level diplomats, or sometimes you might meet with suspected criminals on trial. You need a certain level of tact and people skills to cooperate with people from all walks of life, establish trust, and avoid communicative gaffes.

As you can see, there is more to being an interpreter than meets the eye. Not only do you need to have expert language skills, but you also need to have various soft skills to help you be a well sought-after interpreter. If this sounds like something you would like to do, you can begin your journey by equipping yourself today!