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What Does an Over the Phone Interpreter Do?

Interpreting - OPI - Over the Phone Interpretation

What Does an Over the Phone Interpreter Do?

The pandemic has forever changed the way people communicate and work. Many of us that were lucky enough to be in professions that could translate to home settings quickly invested in microphones, comfortable chairs and high-speed internet to adapt. One job that also made the leap was the critical function of interpretation – specifically over the phone interpretation.

It might not be the first time that you are coming across the concept of over-the-phone interpretation. The current coronavirus pandemic has added more to the rising popularity of over-the-phone interpreting (OPI) thanks to its ease of use and mobility. Can you speak fluent English? Good! Are you bilingual? Better! Having a reliable and secure phone line? Perfect! You can definitely explore the option of becoming an over-the-phone interpreter!

over the phone interpreter

What Does an Over the Phone Interpreter Do?

Modern companies often have to deal with clients or customers who speak a different native language from their team’s. When companies do not share a common language with their clients, miscommunications can occur and create misunderstandings. This is where OPI services jump in to save the day. The job of a phone interpreter, as indicated by the term itself, is providing the linguistic services over the phone as an alternative to face-to-face interactions.

A language, either spoken or signed, is converted into another language consecutively by an interpreter with the knowledge they have about languages and cultures. This is usually carried out while all participants are present and need a rapid solution for bridging a communication gap. Almost any language combination can be imagined. You’ll find interpreters with expertise English and French or English and Spanish etc. Besides their linguistic specialization their subject matter expertise also comes in to play – such as law, commerce, technology, health, social services or science.

Technical and Linguistic Requirements of Becoming an Over the Phone Interpreter

The first requirement is that you are fluent in at least one more language other than English. If you are multilingual, that’s a bonus – that means you’ll have access to more work opportunities. Good concentration and comprehension skills are critical to the job! This is something that you can train to improve as the type of work you do gets more technical or your assignments get lengthier. You should truly care about different cultures and their norms as well. Being an excellent over the phone interpreter goes beyond just the language – cultural comprehension ensures you are accurately communicating the meaning of the consumer.  

Becoming an over the phone interpreter might be the right job for you if you are truly interested in speaking and listening to the languages you work within. Moreover, you need to be flexible and have excellent interpersonal skills. While one can train to become a competent over the phone interpreter, university-level qualifications do exist for interpreters that are serious about the field. Many universities have programs designed keeping in mind the needs of those who want to become an interpreter. Additional certification is also required by some industries like healthcare and judiciary fields, where you need to be deeply acquainted with the technical jargon. 

Who Can Benefit From Over the Phone Interpreters?

OPI’s applications are incredibly broad and accessible – these services can apply to any industry that employs individuals that speak multiple languages or have multilingual clients or customers. If you’re managing a remote team or streamlining communication in a meeting, OPI can be integrated with ease. More casual uses can apply to individuals interested in expanding their communication to new friends, potential collaborators or more.

Industries that benefit from over the phone interpreters include healthcare institutions and medical facilities, financial institutes, law firms, courts, immigration service providers, business owners, insurance companies, government, police departments, educational institutions, and even entertainment settings.  

OPI interpreter

Improvements in the Field of Over the Phone Interpretation

Language interpretation has always been a critical support structure between nations and cultures. However, advancement in technology, continued globalization and the on-going COVID-19 Pandemic have piqued an interest in interpretation-related technologies and language access. Multi-function smart phones and devices are present in everyone’s surroundings, and therefore, we all have expectations of receiving services at any time and any place in the world. 

Cloud-based interpreting has enabled interpreters to work from home, select their availability for assignments and take the job almost anywhere.

With technological advancements the use of over-the-phone interpretation has remarkably increased because of its ease of use and the rapid access of interpreters to numerous languages. This has resulted in decreased wait times which was otherwise not possible with face-to-face interpretation.

What Steps Can Someone Take to Become an Over the Phone Interpreter?

Someone interested in becoming an over-the-phone interpreter needs to start with the basics. 

  • First, they need to assess their language aptitude. How fluent are they in English? What other languages do they can speak? Have any certifications or the sort to confirm your fluency and ability?
  • Secondly, they need to assess their cultural competency for the languages and regions they’ll communicate in. It’s important to understand the people who speak a specific language, so you don’t make errors when interpreting references, aphorisms or other unique linguistic facets.
  • Lastly you need to assess your professional selflessness. You must remember that next to being an ethical interpreter you must only communicate what’s spoken by the clients no matter how strong your opinion is on any subject.

With the above steps in mind, you’ll have to decide which specialty is best for you. Either you want to work in the medical industry, business, academic, legal or something else. Along your journey be sure to get the right certifications to show your employers that you have the right training and education to do the job right. While they’re mandatory, it gives you the edge of being qualified and more desirable for critical case work.

What Makes A Good Over-the-Phone Interpreter?

To be a successful over the phone interpreter, good tech and good training are key. You’ll need a high-quality headset and microphone. High-speed internet also is a must to pass basic technical data requirements. Impartiality is also very important. No matter how much you are against some view or perspective you’re interpreting for, you have to convey how it is intended. Make a habit of listening carefully, taking notes and deciphering the emotions and feelings you’re hearing. Always speak clearly and avoid talking too quickly.

Address the speakers in the first person. Make sure to have a proper work environment by eliminating distractions. A quiet space is critical. When required, ask for clarifications. You should be able to interrupt the speaker if there is a necessity.

The Bottom Line

The importance of over the phone interpretation has been made clear due to the current global pandemic. At Ad Astra, our vast network of interpreters comprises native language-speakers and highly trained individuals who are available around the clock to serve you. Specific requirements of your company can be fulfilled with the help of our expert OPI team with deep specialization in various subjects. Don’t wait a moment more! Whether you’re a new interpreter looking to expand your work opportunities or a company in search of a rapid interpretation solution, get all your language interpretation needs met by getting in touch with us!