What they do

Interpreters convert spoken or signed languages into other spoken or signed languages. They assist people or groups who do not speak the same language to understand each other. They work as an intermediary, either over the phone or in person, between people from diverse linguistic backgrounds.

Interpreters may also convert written documents or audio/visual materials into a different spoken language or sign language. They may also travel with tourist guides to interpret cultural or historical information for foreign tourists.

Working conditions

Interpreters work in a variety of locations and situations including courts, medical and welfare facilities, international conferences, and cultural and tourist attractions. They may also work for a range of federal, state or territory government departments that are concerned with immigration, legal issues and law enforcement.

Work hours are often irregular, and this type of work is usually part-time. Interpreters may be required to be on call. Many interpreters freelance. Interpreters may also travel around the State with tourist or business groups

Tools and technologies

Intepreters may use a pen and notepad or a laptop computer for portable note taking. When they work at conferences they may work in a booth and use audio equipment such as headphones and a microphone.

How do I become one?

Education and training

To become a professional interpreter, you need to be fluent in speaking the languages and cultures you wish to work in. In Western Australia, this is usually English and another language. Government agencies are a major contractor for interpreting services. Most employers will also require you to have completed a qualification in interpreting.

The Diploma and Advanced Diploma of Interpreting (LOTE-English) is offered at TAFE colleges and other registered training organisations throughout Western Australia. To find a training provider near you, browse the Jobs and Skills WA website or visit the My Skills website.

Required registration and licensing

You do not need to be certified by the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI) to work as an interpreter. However, entry into this occupation will be improved by obtaining a NAATI certification.

In Western Australia, employers such as government agencies prefer to employ interpreters who can demonstrate they meet these standards.

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