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Interpreters translate the spoken word, on the spot, from one language into another language. This allows people who do not share the same first language to understand each other.

The Work

There are three main types of interpreting:

Simultaneous or Conference Interpreting

You could be:

Consecutive or Business Interpreting

You could be:

Liaison or Public Service Interpreting

You could be:


The figures below are only a guide. Actual salaries may vary, depending on:

The starting salary for interpreters for those in full time posts in UK-based organisations start in the region of £20,000 to £28,000 per year.

Salaries in international organisations tend to be higher. Staff interpreters at the European Commission start on grade AD5, which has a salary of around £4,500 to £5,000 a month. Senior interpreters on grade AD7 earn around £5,500 to £6,500 a month.

Freelance work is very common and interpreters can earn rates from between £130 to £400 a day. As noted above, the work can be irregular and contracts short.


Workforce Employment Status

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Getting In

Most work is with European Union (EU) organisations, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the United Nations (UN). The EU organisations employ around 800 interpreters, but also use freelance interpreters.

Making contacts is very important. Make yourself known to businesses, organisations and interpreters groups, both locally and further afield. Send your CV with a covering letter to any potential employers.

What Does it Take?

You need to have:

You need to be:


Getting On

More Information

The Association for Language Learning website has information on careers with languages, 'Why Study Languages?'.

Check the Institute of Translating and Interpreting bulletin for job vacancies (available online).

You can find out more about careers in the European Union (EU) by visiting their website.

The United Nations (UN) careers website also has useful information. The rise in the number of EU citizens coming to work in the UK, and the need to make sure that they have equal access to public services, is increasing demand for part time interpreters of community languages. In Scotland community languages include: Arabic, Cantonese, Gaelic, Hindi, Kurdish, Polish, Punjabi and Urdu.

The European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO) occasionally runs an entry level competition for English interpreters, with a view to recruiting staff interpreters. The frequency of this depends on their staff requirements.


Courtesy of Lourdes De Rioja


The following organisations may be able to provide further information.

Association for Language Learning
Tel: 01332 227779
Twitter: @ALL4language

European Commission Office in Scotland
Tel: 0131 225 2058
Twitter: @EUCommScotland

The website for translation services is and for interpretation is

SCILT, Scotland's National Centre for Languages
Tel: 0141 444 8163
Twitter: @scottishcilt

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