What Does a Certified Interpreter Do?

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  • Written By: A. Leverkuhn
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 25 November 2019
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A certified interpreter provides credentialed interpretation services in one of a variety of fields or industries. While various types of interpreters are useful in different business scenarios and situations, certified interpreters bring a level of professional reliability to their roles by participating in certification programs that fully prepare them for their jobs. A certified interpreter might be certified in various source and target languages, that is, languages that the interpreter works from, and other languages that the interpreter presents to an audience.

The major role of a certified interpreter is to provide standardized interpretation for a given venue. This might include a court system, a hospital or medical facility, a lecture hall, or any number of other locations. The interpreter takes ideas spoken in any given language, and translates them to another language, expressing them fluently in the desired language compatible with the listening audience.

The specific role of a certified interpreter depends largely on the specific type of work that this professional does. For example, there are specialized certifications for court interpreters who work in a legal system. There are also different kinds of medical interpretation certifications for those who are interpreting in a medical environment. For other kinds of roles, such as positions in churches or nonprofit organizations, a general certificate of language fluency may be sufficient.


In addition to working with various spoken languages, a certified interpreter might also work with sign language. Sign language interpreters can provide interpretation for spoken word in manual gestures, so that a deaf audience can understand what’s going on. Other sign language interpreters can provide spoken word results for cases when a person is speaking in sign language to a large group who might not understand sign language.

A certified interpreter often relies on his or her credentials to prove his or her skills in effective real-time interpretation. It’s hard for some businesses and other parties to find truly effective interpreters, especially when the interpretation requires translations of large segments of speech. Sometimes, speakers who are being interpreted to an audience are not aware of the needs of the interpreter, and the interpreter may be expected to remember long sentences and paragraphs for expression in the target language. This can cause problems with effective translation of a lecture or similar public speaking event, as it requires skills far beyond just a competent knowledge of the two languages being used.


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