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Job vacancies for interpreters in South Africa
Job vacancies for interpreters in South Africa
Language interpreters perform a job of oral converters of information from one language into another language. This can be spoken or sign language. The major job of an interpreter is to have people hear the interpretation as if it were the original language. Interpreters usually must be fluent speakers of both languages, because they communicate among people who do not share a common language. On this page, you can find job vacancies for interpreters in South Africa as well as job-related information in this industry.
The job of an interpreter usually include the following duties:
- Compile specialized terminology databases to use during the interpretation;
- Speak, write and read fluently in two or more languages;
- Express the messages accurately, quickly, and clearly;
- Use the knowledge of other cultures to render an interpretation of the original message;
- Aid and help people to communicate by converting messages from one language into another;
- Comply with Interpreters' Code of Ethics;
- Constantly train their skills by reading and practicing the industry-relevant materials.
There are three common types of interpreting:
- consecutive interpreting,
- sight interpreting.
Simultaneous interpreters convey a spoken sentence into another language in real-time. Simultaneous interpreters must know the subject matter and maintain a high level of concentration to do their job accurately and completely. Due to the mental fatigue involved, simultaneous interpreters jobs can involve work in pairs or small teams if they are interpreting for long periods, such as in a court or conference setting.
Consecutive interpreters translate the speaker's message in another language, not in real-time, but directly after the speaker has stopped to allow for the interpretation. Since it is difficult to remember all information in such a short period, consecutive interpreters have to take notes to maintain the high quality of interpretation.
Sight interpreters provide a translation of a written document directly into a spoken language, for immediate consumption, but not to produce a written translated document.
Which events are served by interpreters and how to get a job?
Interpretation services are needed in all subject areas, but most interpreters prefer to choose several fields of specializations, as it gives them an opportunity to find a job quickly.
Community interpreters perform their job in community-based environments, providing vital language interpretation one-on-one or in group settings. Community interpreters often are needed at school dialogs between parents and teachers, community events, accompany someone into government offices, business and public meetings, social and government agencies, home purchases or rental, etc.
Conference interpreters work at conferences, seminars, and training that have a foreign audience. The job is often performed in the field of international business, science, engineering, finance, or diplomacy. To get a good interpreter's job in South Africa as a conference interpreter you have to be an experienced interpreter and be able to convert two languages into one native language. For some job positions, such as those with the United Nations, a very high qualification is required. Conference interpreters often perform simultaneous interpreting for the attendees of a conference or business meeting who do not understand the language of the speaker wear headphones tuned to the interpreter who speaks their language.
Medical or healthcare interpreters usually work in hospitals and help patients communicate with doctors, nurses, technicians, and other medical staff. To get a job of medical Interpreter in South Africa you must have knowledge of medical terminology and common medical terms in both languages. Medical interpreters must be very sensitive to patients' circumstances, as well as maintain confidentiality and high ethical standards. In some cases, an interpretation can also be provided in remote mode using Skype, Zoom, or other video and audio conference tools.
Liaison or escort interpreters' job is to accompany visitors abroad or foreign visitors in South Africa who have limited language proficiency. Such interpreters may provide linguistic help in formal and informal meetings, these specialists ensure that the visitors can communicate during their stay. Escort interpreters typically travel very often.
Legal, judicial or court interpreters typically perform their jobs in courts or other legal proceedings, like hearings, arraignments, depositions, and trials, they help people who have limited language proficiency. They must have a good knowledge of legal and court terminology. Sometimes court interpreters need to read documents aloud in a language other than that in which they were written, this task is known as sight interpreting.
Sign language interpreters' job is to provide communication between people who are deaf or hard of hearing and people who can hear. Sign language interpreters must be fluent in one spoken language and in sign language, which combines signing, fingerspelling, and specific body language. Sign language is a separate language and has its grammar, such interpreters specialize in interpreting for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Some people who are deaf or hard of hearing can lip-read instead of signing in sign language. Interpreters who work with them do "oral interpretation" by mouthing speech silently and very carefully so that their lips can be easily read or they may use facial expressions and gestures.
Interpreter as a profession
There are around 1500 professional interpreters in South Africa which hold job positions by largest employers, providing professional, scientific, and technical interpreting services.
- 25% are working for educational services, government, local, and private companies;
- 15% perform their job in hospitals;
- 11% working in government organizations;
- 9% work in schools, hospitals, courtrooms, and conference centers.
Judiciary and conference interpreters may travel frequently. Depending on the assignment, interpreting may be stressful, as highly technical or sensitive information must be relayed in a short period of time. In some settings, interpreters may perform their job in South Africa as part of a team. Since modern communication technology became available, more interpreters are working remotely using video or audio connections.
How to Become an Interpreter?
First, you need to get an education. Find schools or universities for interpreters near you! You might need at least a bachelor's degree, as it is the most important requirement after having a fluency in at least two languages. If you are interested in becoming a qualified interpreter you should take a broad range of courses that focus on foreign languages, writing, and comprehension. Not only a high school can teach you interpreting, but you can also use other educational options. Although many of interpreter's jobs in South Africa require a bachelor's degree, majoring in linguistics is not always necessary.
Interpreters usually do not need any formal training, because they are expected to be able to interpret before they are hired. But those, who are working as the court or medical interpreters are more likely to complete job-specific training programs or certificates in South Africa or abroad. One of the requirements for most court and medical interpreting certification programs is to constantly participates in further educational courses. It is offered by professional interpreter associations in South Africa regularly.
There is currently no universal certification required of interpreters beyond passing the required court interpreting exams offered by the government of South Africa. However, interpreters can take a variety of tests that show proficiency. For example, several associations provide certification in more than 10 language combinations. South Africa has a three-test series for prospective interpreters - one test in simple consecutive interpreting, another in simultaneous interpreting, and a third in conference-level interpreting. A completion of these tests indicates that a person has significant skills in interpreting. The certification for interpreters in South Africa may include many languages: Spanish, German, English, Arabic, Mandarin, Russian, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, etc.
Other helpful experiences when preparing for a good paid interpreters' job in South Africa include spending time in a foreign country, interacting directly with foreign cultures, and studying a variety of subjects in at least one foreign language. You can begin specializing in one field such as law, engineering, or medicine to provide a higher level of interpreting in these subjects. If you want to learn about interpreting job, you can start working for an interpreting company in South Africa, in-house or as a freelancer. Performing volunteer job is an excellent way for people seeking interpreter jobs to gain experience. Volunteer opportunities or internships for interpreters are available through community organizations, hospitals, exhibition and sport event organizers, universities, private companies.
Escort interpreting can offer an opportunity for young professionals to work with a more experienced interpreter together and provide an opportunity to learn from them. Many interpreters find it easier to begin working in industries with particularly high demand for language services, such as court or medical interpreting. Whatever path of entry you pursue as an interpreter, you should develop relationships with experienced interpreters, learn skills and confidence, expand a network of contacts by attending exhibitions and seminars.
Advancement for Interpreters
If you already have enough experience, you can move up to more difficult interpreters' assignments, seek certification, and obtain complex court or conference responsibility. You can also manage or start our own interpreting business. Many self-employed interpreters choose to become self-employed as a means to advance. They may submit resumes and samples to different interpreting companies who will match their skills with various jobs. Many get work based on their reputation or through referrals from clients or colleagues. Some may also start their own companies, where they hire other interpreters to work for them.
Important skills and qualities for Interpreters
As a freelance interpreter, you will need general business skills to manage your finances and careers successfully. You must set prices for your work, bill customers, keep records, and market their services to build your client base. Interpreters must be able to concentrate while others are speaking or moving around them and must be sensitive to cultural differences and expectations among the people whom they are helping to communicate. Successful interpreting is a matter not only of knowing the words in different languages but also of understanding people's cultures and utilize all learned skills in your job. If you are a sign language interpreter you must be able to make a quick and coordinated hand, finger, and arm movements when interpreting. If you are a self-employed interpreter, you must be able to get along with those who hire or use your services to retain clients and attract new business. To ensure that the audience understands them interpreters must speak and listen carefully when interpreting in all of the languages in which they are working.
Interpreter Salaries and hourly rates
The median annual salary for interpreters in South Africa working for foreign companies varies between 29 000 and 45 000 EUR, depending on the employer and the country. A median salary generally means that half of the interpreters earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than 24 000 EUR, and the highest 10 percent earned more than 79 000 EUR. The median annual salaries for interpreters in the top industries in which they work are as follows:
- Government interpreters: 35 000 - 40 000 EUR
- Medical interpreters: 42 000 - 48 000 EUR
- Interpreters for educational services: 29 000 - 42 000 EUR
- Diplomatic, protocol interpreters:69 000 - 84 000 EUR
Annual salaries of interpreters depend on the language, specialization, skill, experience, education, and certification of the interpreter, as well as on the type of employer. Salaries of interpreters and translators vary widely. Interpreters who know languages that are in high demand or that relatively few people can translate often earn higher salaries. Those who perform jobs requiring a high level of skill, such as conference interpreters, also receive higher pay. Self-employed interpreters usually charge per hour, which may vary from 30 to 120 EUR per hour, depending on the assignment. Half-day or full-day rates are also common. Freelance interpreters typically have variable work schedules, which may include periods of limited work and periods of irregular hours. Most interpreters work full time.
Job Outlook and prospects for Interpreters
The employment of interpreters is projected to grow 15-20% over the next decade, much faster than the average for all occupations. Interpreters' employment growth is due to increasing globalization and a more diverse population of South Africa, which is expected to require more interpreters. Demand will likely remain strong for interpreters of frequently demanded languages, such as Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Russian, Chinese, Hindi, Arabic, Korean. Also, the demand for sign language interpreters is expected to grow due to the increasing use of video relay services, which allow people to conduct online video calls and use sign language interpreting. Growing international business and trade should require more interpreters, especially in emerging markets such as Asia and Africa. National security and military measures will also rise a number of job vacancies for interpreters.
Job prospects should be best for those who have at least a bachelor's degree and for those who have professional certification and experience. Those with an advanced degree in interpreting also should have an advantage. Job prospects for interpreters should also vary by specialty and language. For example, interpreters in one certain language should have good job prospects because of expected increases in the population of these language speakers in South Africa. Similarly, job opportunities for interpreters in South Africa should be plentiful for those, who specializes in healthcare and law, because of the critical need for all parties to understand the information communicated in those fields. Sign language interpreters will also continue to have favorable employment because there are relatively few people with the needed skills.