Welcome New Interpreters!

Welcome to the field! We are so excited to have you join the team. As a new interpreter you have a lot to learn. Experienced interpreters gave us these 7 tips so you can get your career off to a great start.

New Interpreter Tips Welcome Interpreters!

1:Dress Professionally

You’re officially a professional now, so it’s time to look the part. Carefully consider how you will dress and even how you style your hair. Your decisions affect everyone involved– the Deaf client, the agency you are working with, and the profession in general. 

It’s amazing how the clothes you wear can help you on assignment. The front desk is more likely to be helpful and remember you, and other professionals will be more willing to comply with your requests (lighting, position, if you need a break, etc.). 

2:Be Responsive

You’ve probably heard by now that there are high times and low times for interpreting work. Make it through lower times by making yourself available. 

Make it your policy to never leave an agency unread. Even if you can’t accept the assignment a simple “No.” or “I can’t.” If schedulers know that you respond quickly they are more likely to contact your for any last minute work that may come up.

3:Be Business Minded

As an Independent Contractor you are running your own small business. That might sound intimidating, but it’s also exciting. You are your own boss. 

Consider setting up a business bank account. Having one account where you will receive payments and make deductible purchases will make tax time a lot easier.

When accepting assignments consider your qualification, but also consider your compensation. Will you make enough for the time you will have to invest? If you have to travel an hour and you aren’t offered anything for that time, it might not make financial sense to accept it. 

Also consider how you will protect yourself. What kinds of insurance might you need? Workman’s comp? Liability? Will you charge a fee for invoices that aren’t paid in a timely manner?

4:Be Organized

As you start to take assignments that are weeks or even months out, you’ll quickly see the need to have an organization system for scheduling and for invoicing. 

No one way is right for everyone. Some interpreters prefer everything digitally and others like “old school” paper planners. Many others use a combination. Try different approaches until you find the one that works best for you. 

Remember to schedule time for yourself. To be effective you need time to eat, use the restroom, rest, and travel between assignments. Also, it’s a good idea to schedule a time to send invoices at least 2 times month. 

5: Be a Learner

You’ve accomplished a lot! You graduated your ITP. You’ve got your certification! Congratulations! Now you have a lifetime of learning ahead. Be patient. Try to improve yourself every day. If you are unsure about something, ask. Never assume that the way you do something can’t be improved. Learn from others, in fact ask for advice whenever possible. 

6: Get A Mentor

As you work, you’ll find yourself in different situations. Find someone that you can discuss your decisions with. A mentor doesn’t always have to be someone with a higher certification level and 20 years of experience. A lot can be learned from interpreters at all levels. Find someone that is willing to debrief with you. Buy them a coffee and chat for 30 mins. You can even have a few different ones including the Deaf.  

7: Don’t Give Up

Being an interpreter can be an extremely fulfilling career. It’s very possible to enjoy what you do, which not everyone can say about their job. At first you may feel overwhelmed by how much you have to learn. You might feel intimidated by others that have been working for years or by clients that are famous in the area. 

No one expects you to be perfect. When you make a mistake, admit it, repair it and move on.

Don’t give up. We are glad to have you. Welcome! 

Additional Resources:



MT & Associates | Sign Language Interpreting Practice BBB Business Review