Ongoing Training For Interpreters: What’s Important and What’s Not 

Ongoing Training is the most critical component of being a successful interpreter. Unlike some jobs where you can maintain a base level of skills, interpreting requires you to keep up with changes in language, culture, ethics and general linguistic studies.  

Trainings can be hard to come by or to schedule on top of a busy interpreter schedule. Finding the right trainings is also key as it’s critical to tailor your trainings to your goals. In this piece we’ll guide Spoken and Signed Language interpreters through what’s important and what’s not for ongoing training. 

So where do we start with sifting through what’s critical in your ongoing training journey? We’ll break out the major sections for you below. Dive in!

An Ad Astra interpreter smiles and thinks about training

Tailor Your Training to Your Goals 

So you’ve got mastery of your Signed or spoken language, but what dictates the types of trainings you acquire?  

Say for example you’re unable to get more jobs in mental health or another field that you’re passionate about – it’s time to load up on as many courses specific to those institutions. If you want to be a legal or healthcare interpreter then take a college class, online course, or community college class. By immersing yourself in a specialization, you can more easily grasp the concepts you’ll be articulating. 

If you’re a Sign Language interpreter and aren’t seeing a particular course you have interest in, then reach out to RID or your local organization to make a request.  

An Ad Astra interpreter ponders the meaning of trainings

Keeping Up With Ethics 

The most important component of working as a successful interpreter is being ethical in your role.  

The National Council on Interpreting in Health Care lays out in great detail standards that apply across the field. They range from confidentiality, respecting boundaries, applying respect and dignity to the craft, and the continual pursuit of education & knowledge.  

As interpreters get more comfortable in their work this can be one of the first things to slip in their interactions. Over time they might slowly pickup bad habits related to boundaries. Always remember that the guiding principles of ethical interpreting can ensure the safety of your client and yourself.  

A young Ad Astra interpreter studies for a training course

Vocabulary and General Studies 

Language is an ever-evolving organism. Regional accents, slang, the internet, social scenes and more all shift and pull language forward. To effectively interpret, you have to be able to understand all facets of the language.  

Interpreters that don’t continue exploring vocabulary and usage can find themselves failing their client or altering the message. Just think of the pandemic! So many new medical terms and other jargon were introduced, with more on the way.  

Alongside vocab and terminology are changing fields of study. Industries and the language surrounding them will always have new terminology, theories and practice that you should be familiar with. So pickup up that new mental health book, history text, or LGBTQIA+ glossary to keep up!  

Privilege, Power and Oppression

An Ad Astra interpreter sits on her desk and thinks about trainings

Thankfully conversations and education around the rights of marginalized communities is taking place with more frequency in America. For interpreters to act as a voice for a non-English speaker or Deaf or Hard of Hearing individual, they must be versed in the politics and histories surrounding these groups. 

This means understanding perspectives and history on issues ranging from race and representation, Women’s rights, Queer studies and more. To understand your client you have to understand the issues that affect them.  

For Sign Language interpreters, this also means understanding the role a hearing individual is taking on in Deaf spaces. In an audist society there are  power dynamics that Sign Language interpreters must be aware to not propagate. 

Certifications 

Certifications are a great way to communicate to clients and consumers that you have a certain level of expertise and knowledge. They can be specialized in legal, healthcare, education and more.  

For Sign Language interpreters seeking certifications, they have to undertake a set amount of training hours and then complete a rigorous exam. They are then required to maintain their certifications through acquiring a yearly set amount of Continued Education Units (CEUs). There are national and state-specific certifications, so check to see which ones apply to you. 

So There You Have It 

At the end of the day it’s important that interpreters not get comfortable in being stagnant in their knowledge. Their specialization evolves like the language and people they support. 

If you feel you’re deficient in an area or want to branch out, then start scouring for trainings that suite you! And while you’re at it head on over to our very own training portal here.  

Resources

Confessions of a High School Word Nerd: Laugh Your Gluteus* Off and Increase Your SAT Verbal Score

1100 Words You Need to Know

What’s Your Sign for Pizza?: An Introduction to Variation in American Sign Language

Power, Privilege, and Oppression (PPO) CEUs

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