Where is the best place to be an interpreter?

by Rich DeMatteo on April 28, 2017 · 0 comments

Working at an interpretation agency can give you the chance to travel the world and work in a wide range of industries; from businesses to governments and international organisations.

Although the nomadic nature of working as an interpreter may be attractive to those with wanderlust, the reality is that most of your days will be spent in conferences or business meetings. However, as an interpreter abroad you will be immersed in the lifestyle of where you are based. Rather than being a visitor, you can live like a native. So the best country to visit on holiday will not necessarily be the best country in which to be an interpreter.

Here we look at three of the best places to work as an interpreter, based on the top benefits of the jobs there.

Where do interpreters work the least number of days?

The most recent data available from the International Association of Conference Interpreters (AIIC), from 2012, found that the number of days worked by interpreters varies from region to region.

The Arab world, South America, Africa, Central Europe, North America and the Middle East recorded higher than average levels of days worked, while regions in Western and Northern Europe stayed well beneath the average number of days worked worldwide for interpreters, which was 88. However, interpreters in South America and in the Arab world noticed a marked increase in the number of days worked from a previous study published in AIIC in 2010. South Americans work on average 104, a significant increase of 86 from 2010. Similarly, those in Arab countries worked 106 days on average in 2012, up from 83 in 2010.

Similarly, those working for an interpretation agency are likely to work more days than self-employed interpreters. However, even though you may have more work in certain regions than others, this may not result in better pay. Although interpreters in Western and Northern Europe work less days, they can earn more for their time. In the UK, 100% of interpreters billed clients per day, but in other regions this isn’t always the case. For example, in central America, 33% of interpreters charged by half day.

Where do interpreters have the most financial security?

One of the most important considerations for anyone applying any job is the salary. If financial remuneration is the only factor you take into account, then the best country to be an interpreter in would be Switzerland.

According to the AIIC report, Swiss simultaneous interpreters earn average rates of €1,000. However, a Euro goes a lot further in Central America than it does in Switzerland, and the same report found that 70% of interpreters in Switzerland have a supplementary income because of this shortfall in earnings.

Germany can offer you the second highest earnings as an interpreter, with The Nordic region, France and the US also ranking highly. While the research only takes into account AIIC members from each country, who may work on lucrative projects abroad, it may not be completely accurate. For example, interpreters living in Italy may often work in Switzerland. However, the report still acts as a good baseline when determining which country to work in.

It’s also important to remember that the financial stability of an interpreter depends on more than just their location. According to London Translations, an interpretation agency based in the UK, there are a number of other factors that determine the career prospects of interpreters that are more important that the country in which you work. They point out that experience, the languages in which you specialise, and whether or not you work in the private or public sector are the most important factors that determine your pay grade.

Where do interpreters have the most job satisfaction?

According to the AIIC report, interpreters in Western Europe, such as the UK, Germany and France, are generally content with their work. In fact, interpreters enjoy a generally high level of job satisfaction, with 80% reporting high or very high job satisfaction.

The truth there are many countries that might work out best for you as an interpreter, it merely depends on what it is your are looking for. Although certain countries and languages pay more, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of each to determine which country would best suit your individual needs.


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