Being bilingual, trilingual, or multilingual in the Portland area poses a variety of opportunities, including becoming a professional interpreter.
Interpreters practice extensively to aid communication across language barriers. They need to ensure everyone in the conversation is working with accurate information as they respond, especially in settings like healthcare or legal procedures. Recognizing where miscommunications occur and making them clear for both parties is an essential skill in multiple industries.
Luckily, the challenges of this work match the rewards. There is a growing demand for this profession. Its median salary is over $50,000 and its projected growth is a staggering 20% in the coming years. Portland Community College’s non-credit remote programs can help those interested in this needed profession with its remote career development courses.
What Does a Professional Interpreter Do?
Professional interpreters serve as a conversational go-between for individuals with language barriers. For example, a Spanish-speaking patient in a Portland hospital might not have access to a doctor that speaks their language. Instead, they’ll communicate about their healthcare needs through a professional interpreter. The bilingual interpreter listens to the conversation, translates it to Spanish, then relays a response.
Professional interpreters, unlike written-word translators, think on their feet and translate in non-ideal circumstances. They have to be familiar with colloquial terms and dialects, in addition to translating technical jargon into understandable phrases. They are bound by ethical codes and must be able to faithfully share meaning across languages.
Many professional interpreters must also be somewhat tech-savvy. They may be part of a remote interpreting service or must facilitate communication in virtual environments.
The Oregon Process to Become a Professional Interpreter
Courses and a certain amount of practice hours as an interpreter are common training for professional interpreters. Oregon doesn't have a defined process for general interpreting. Instead, there are certifications for industries like healthcare or legal interpreting.
When you focus on becoming a Healthcare Interpreter, organizations like the Oregon Health Care Interpreters Association provide guidance on job expectations. The National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters also offers information about the rigorous standards that prepare medical interpreters for their work.
However, to get started in professional interpretation, it helps to pursue high-quality remote career development courses taught by trained professionals. The Professional Interpreting course at PCC offers the insights you need to understand and begin practicing to become an interpreter. You'll have access to practice exercises that put your multilingual knowledge to work.
Preparing Yourself For Interpreting Work
While there are many aspects of interpretation work to remember when you’re considering a career as an interpreter, the biggest categories are:
- Complete fluency in both languages
- Ethical scenarios
- The ability to think on your feet
Even highly fluent individuals often need to learn more regionalisms, slang, and technical terms for the field they will be interpreting. Don't feel bad if you've always felt fluent in both languages but encounter new terms you need to learn. That's where training can help.
Also, consider as many ethical scenarios as possible. Are you committed to neutrality in conversations, even if you perhaps have a reason to prefer one member of the conversation over the other? Are you prepared to translate every part of a conversation without editorializing? Are you committed to confidentiality agreements and not sharing anything you learn in an interpreting situation? These commitments are key.
Finally, interpretation is something you will improve upon with practice. You'll learn to control a conversation so it won’t feel halting. With practice and observation, you'll find yourself growing as an interpreter too.
PCC: For Your Career Road Ahead!
Portland Community College offers a first step toward becoming a professional interpreter. PCC remote courses are flexible and self-paced, helping you progress or transition your career seamlessly with a flexible schedule. To learn more, check out our available language programs.