What Interpreters Do

Interpreters work in any situation where people who don’t speak the same language need to communicate. An interpreter might work in legal settings, with medical providers or in schools. In the United States, Spanish and American Sign Language are two of the most common languages that need interpretation to and from English. The need for specific languages varies by location.

Settings for Interpreters

Legal settings that require an interpreter can include a courtroom or an attorney’s office. To work with ongoing court cases and interpret witness statements, special training and certification is often required. Lawyers prefer to hire court certified individuals, but certification is not required to take depositions or translate for an attorney and his or her clients. Using an interpreter allows witnesses and victims to comfortably communicate and gives access to the legal system to non-English speakers.
Individuals who want to work in a medical setting have many choices. Some hospitals and doctors’ offices hire dedicated interpreters or look for bilingual workers who can interpret and perform other tasks. Some hospitals and clinics use an outsourced telephone service to provide interpretation, although patients and doctors prefer in-person interpretation. Patients feel more comfortable when using their native language to communicate with care providers.
Teachers need to communicate with every parent, even if the parent doesn’t speak English. An interpreter can help facilitate parent-teacher conferences to ensure that all parents can be involved in their children’s education. Many American Sign Language interpreters work directly in schools and universities to translate for Deaf individuals.
Wherever an interpreter chooses to work, they help people from diverse backgrounds communicate. Professional interpreting keeps the legal, medical and educational systems accessible to everyone.