The Top 3 Mistakes Interpreters Make …that are costing them financially and professionally.

Interpreters, especially community interpreters, tend to make mistakes that can be costly – both financially and professionally. Most interpreters work independently, without having many real opportunities to connect with other interpreters, so learning best practices can be a challenge. Without a forum to meet, share and learn, interpreters are left to their own resources. And for interpreters that are new to the field, the learning can be tough.

If you don’t know what you don’t know, where do you start?

The Interpreter’s Lab was created for just that purpose, as a gathering and sharing place for new, practicing or want-to-be interpreters. Sharing is the best!

Over the years, and there have been many years (in fact almost 30 years of experience here) we have learned a thing or two (or 3) and we want to share those with you.

Did you know that you belong to one of the largest, fastest, growing sector worldwide? The Language Industry is said to reach $47USD billion in 2018 and $56USD billion in 2021. So, why are you not feeling it? Well, a few reasons, some are out of your control (but we are working on it) and some are in your control. So, let’s work with what we can.

So, what are the 3 key mistakes that interpreters make? Well, we would categorize them this way:

1. Equating loyalty with exclusion
2. Thinking that profits and compassion don’t mix
3. Working aimlessly or aimlessly working

1. Equating loyalty with exclusivity
Interpreters are freelancers – that means you are your own boss. You can do what you wish, while you maintain your professional and contractual obligations. Are you only signed up with 1 agency? WHY?There are so many out there. Spread yourself out, sign up with as many agencies as you want. If you don’t like their practices, drop them. But if you do, now you have access to more work.

2. Thinking that profits and compassion don’t mix
We can be nice, and yet still think about the bottom line. Interpreting is a helping profession, for sure, but you are not a volunteer, nor a social worker. Working within your role and professional boundaries allows, in fact encourages you, to also think about the money. Where is it? How do you get it? Negotiate like a business person, not a volunteer. You are selling a service after all.

3. Working aimlessly or aimlessly working
How many of you are just taking in assignments as they come, not really taking charge of your career path? I would bet that many of you came into this industry thinking “I can make a little bit of money here” and are pretty passive about how that money comes. Well, like I said before the Language Industry is said to reach $47USD billion in 2018 and $56USD billion in 2021 – that means that there is money somewhere. Set some goals, learn more, expand your scope of where or how or for whom you want to work, aim at a goal and see what results.

At The Interpreter’s Lab, we love to teach not only core skills, but also all the exciting other stuff that helps interpreters grow, professionally and personally. There are, of course, other strategies for interpreters to grow their business. We hope that you will come back and continue reading this blog space – learn more and “Be a Better Interpreter.”