The range of salaries for interpreters is varied and there are relatively few salaried jobs. The highest paid jobs tend to be based outside the UK.
Working conditions and pay are considerably better in the private market sector for conference interpreting than in the UK's PSI/commercial agency sector.
Freelance hourly rates vary but could be in the region of £30 to £60 depending on experience, type of interpreting, location and level of demand for the languages.
Beginner staff interpreters at the European Commission start at level AD5 (around 4,384 Euros a month), while experienced interpreters can start at level AD7 (around 5,612 Euros a month).
Traditionally, interpreters have been paid travel time and costs, along with a guaranteed minimum fee (normally two or three hours' work), and cancellation/curtailment fees if appropriate. This is no longer the case in some settings, notably PSI interpreting.
Agencies and telephone interpreting are increasingly being used to reduce costs, particularly in the public sector, as interpreters receive a lower rate per minute or per hour with limited or no travel reimbursements.
It may be difficult to sustain a stable income from interpreting unless you are employed by one organisation as a conference interpreter or by several agencies. Most interpreters have additional employment, for example in translation, teaching or training.
Working hours for freelancers are flexible. Business, routine medical and court-related assignments tend to take place during office hours but evening and weekend work is not uncommon, especially for police interviews and emergency medical care.
Interpreters may be based inside conference centres or working on the telephone for long periods.
The majority of interpreters are self-employed with most finding work through networking and registration with professional directories or language agencies. It can take time to become established and build a regular client base.
Opportunities for employment may arise anywhere, especially for community-based assignments and telephone work, but the main centres for international conferences include Brussels, London, Geneva and Paris. In the UK, employment opportunities outside London are increasing.
Business or smart casual dress is usually required, with the exception of telephone interpreting, which is normally done from the interpreter's home.
The role requires a huge amount of concentration, which can be tiring.
You may be required to be away from home overnight or to be abroad for long periods.
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