How Court Interpreting Sucks: Let me count the ways!

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Pablo in Corona, California

31 months ago

Well said Sally !!! And by the way, medical interpreting still IS a demanding job, just not as demanding as court interpreting.

The laws requires that ANYBODY that interprets MUST BE CERTIFIED, at least in california.

I can't wait to finish my studies and be a free lancer and work in courts, law firms, etc!

The BEST thing about the job is that im just a shadow and dont have to think nor stress about anything, just repeat what other people say in a different language !!

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David in San Francisco, California

31 months ago

I find this thread interesting because I am an attorney who sees interpreters interact in the courtroom on a daily basis. I talk to them a lot because I find their personal stories really interesting. I'm a Spanish speaker and thought of becoming an interpreter before I bowed to pressure and became a lawyer instead. For several years I've been thinking of retiring from the practice of law and studying for the interpreter exam.

The comment that interpreting doesn't require one to take the job home seems true and is a far cry from what the attorneys do. We live the job every moment of every day. We're more alcoholic and more depressed than almost any other profession as a group because of it.

I understand the impression by many on these boards that the system is unfair. It may seem unbearable that this is so. However, those who feel that way (with good reason) should separate their livelihood from their personal desire to change the system. Making a living as an interpreter does not preclude someone from going out there and trying to change things in many different ways.

So lighten up and be creative in your approach to the underlying issues.

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Concerned in Berkeley, California

31 months ago

David W in San Francisco, California said: To all who hate court interpreting because you get so little respect, may I suggest you become a defense attorney? Then you will not only get to endure the vile scapegoating and disrespect of the judges, attorneys, defendants and bailiffs, but you will also be expected to know all the answers and guarantee the outcomes. Take it from a legal professional who knows and loves the interpreters he works with and loves the idea of speaking someone else's words for a living and being able to forget it all at 5pm, interpreting ain't such a bad gig. All that reading in court between cases is also not a bad perk.

Maybe these guys should talk to the court stenographers, they don't even get to open their mouths in court! It seems to me they have no clue how important it is for people who don't speak English to get a voice. This is the importance of the job. If they don't respect it, maybe that's why they get no respect.

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Alekz in Los Angeles, California

31 months ago

Like el chambelan stated:

"First of all. You are there to soley interpret, Nobody cares about your opinions, or your feelings, or experiences. lol. You are just the interpreter, and nothing more..."

That is the whole point, we are not there to express our opinions, feelings or experiences. That is NOT part of our job. If you feel like you should be able to express yourself you are wrong unless I missed something in the job description. We are to interpret between two or more parties, that is it. No advice, personal feelings, getting involved whatsoever.

We have to understand our role as interpreters, we are someone else's voice.

Like David said, if you have a passion to try to change things, there are ways you can try to change the system without affecting your ability to do your job.

Alekz

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Alfonso in Norwalk, California

31 months ago

I just finished completing the yearlong course @ SCSI and took both the written and oral exams...I do not think that I passed the oral, but I will to take it until I pass while still attending school to keep on top of it all. I also am participating in a couple of internships @ L.A. Courts. I find the profession to be facinating and never faced with a boring day. I am looking forward to a great career and purpose in life! I retired from a job in a public utility company after 30 terrible years and felt extremely unappreciated. Now I am shown appreciation & respect in the courthouse,I am very happy to persue this opportunity and to have a career and not just a "job". Thanks to Nestor Wagner and his fine school SCSI.

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karen in El Cajon, California

30 months ago

I just passed the written exam and I am studying to take the oral hopefully this summer. I need a bit of direction on what to do next because I have been studying on my own and I have not been able to find a semester long program (which is probably too late to enroll in now) or even a place where they would tutor you just to pass the oral exam. can anyone help? I did some research and found material but it is over $500 and cannot afford that, I live in east county san diego CA and I'm excited to start this new career in spite of all the negative comments.. any help would be greatly appreciated!

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Soffie in Anaheim, California

30 months ago

Check out www.interpreting.com its southern california's school of interpretation website. This school is great :)

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War Criminals CAN'T deliver 'justice' in Anaheim, California

30 months ago

"First of all. You are there to soley interpret, Nobody cares about your opinions, or your feelings, or experiences. lol. You are just the interpreter, and nothing more..."

This is EXACTLY why court interpreting SUCKS; even though you ARE a human being with opinions, feelings, thoughts, emotions & experiences ..as a court interpreter you must set all that ASIDE and act as if you didn't even EXIST while you help the U.S. court system ABUSE people day in and day out.

Only someone with NO self-esteem would accept working like this.

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Certified Interpreter in Rialto, California

30 months ago

karen in El Cajon, California said: I just passed the written exam and I am studying to take the oral hopefully this summer. I need a bit of direction on what to do next because I have been studying on my own and I have not been able to find a semester long program (which is probably too late to enroll in now) or even a place where they would tutor you just to pass the oral exam. can anyone help? I did some research and found material but it is over $500 and cannot afford that, I live in east county san diego CA and I'm excited to start this new career in spite of all the negative comments.. any help would be greatly appreciated!

We can help you pass the oral exam at half the price! Check out our website:
www.certified-interpreter.com

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Certified Interpreter in Rialto, California

30 months ago

Pablo in Corona, California said: Well said Sally !!! And by the way, medical interpreting still IS a demanding job, just not as demanding as court interpreting.

The laws requires that ANYBODY that interprets MUST BE CERTIFIED, at least in california.

I can't wait to finish my studies and be a free lancer and work in courts, law firms, etc!

The BEST thing about the job is that im just a shadow and dont have to think nor stress about anything, just repeat what other people say in a different language !!

Don't know if you've passed the oral exam yet but if you haven't we have a great school in Corona at half the price of any interpreting school. Check out our website:
www.certified-interpreter.com

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Ana in Valencia, California

29 months ago

Has anyone out there gotten their oral exam results yet?

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Sandy in Irvine, California

29 months ago

No, but they are due on the 31st.. The waiting sucks!

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hunter_80 in San Pedro, California

29 months ago

I know the state oral exam results are expected by March 31...but has anyone received their results yet?

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Alfonso in Santa Fe Springs, California

29 months ago

Yes 1st results letters are being received today 3/28/12.

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Angela in Alameda, California

29 months ago

Ms. A in Cerritos, California said: Interpreting isnt for everyone. plain and simple. Just as working at Mcdonalds isnt for everyone. You have to love what you do. I love interpreting and hence im in this field. So for those of you that are new in this field, my advice is just b/c others hate it doesnt mean we all do or that you will. So, try it out and then you can say wether you hate it or not.

Hello MS A!
Read your post and I have to agree with you. This is a profession for people who has the skills and who like this field. Did you get certified? Where in the Bay area could I get certified? Also, if you know of any agencies that are currently hiriing. More than interpreting I wand to do translations. Thanks

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Ms. A in Cerritos, California

29 months ago

Angela in Alameda, California said: Hello MS A!
Read your post and I have to agree with you. This is a profession for people who has the skills and who like this field. Did you get certified? Where in the Bay area could I get certified? Also, if you know of any agencies that are currently hiriing. More than interpreting I wand to do translations. Thanks

Hello Angela, I attended Southern California School of Interpretation in Santa Fe Springs, CA. I really liked it and i know of many students that attended that have passed the state exam. I am waiting for results to see if im certified or not. If the school is too far from you, they also have online courses. Testing is done through prometric, and to get certified you have to pass the written and oral components of the test. Visit their wevsite for more info: www.prometric.com

If you want to do translating, then thats a different field, and im not sure how to go about doing that. sorry. best of luck in what ever you do:)

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Angie in Los Angeles, California

29 months ago

War Criminals CAN'T deliver 'justice' in Anaheim, California said: "First of all. You are there to soley interpret, Nobody cares about your opinions, or your feelings, or experiences. lol. You are just the interpreter, and nothing more..."

This is EXACTLY why court interpreting SUCKS; even though you ARE a human being with opinions, feelings, thoughts, emotions & experiences ..as a court interpreter you must set all that ASIDE and act as if you didn't even EXIST while you help the U.S. court system ABUSE people day in and day out.

Only someone with NO self-esteem would accept working like this.

Only someone with NO self-esteem would accept working like this? Are you for real? Another one sore because he/she has not been able to pass the oral exam or an interpreter that really sucks at it and is also sore about it. GROW UP!!! If you want your opinion to count then become a lawyer. If you really want to change the system then become a judge. Stop whining and do something about it. You don't have to be an interpreter. If you hate it so much then don't do it, but don't be insulting the rest of the people who really love this profession. It is not the profession that sucks, it is you and people like you who cannot understand what your role is and what all the attention to yourself. Like I said, if you hate it so much don’t do it and if you want to change the court system them change it but don’t be complaining and insulting other people.

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joliho1@yahoo.com in San Jose, California

29 months ago

kaiser employee in Lakewood, California said: I was taking court interpreting classes at southern california school of interpreting and have 2 cd's from the proffesor there and 2 text books that i paid 575.00 for each course by Mr, Wagner. Im no longer interested in this field do to failed oral state exams. Im willing to sell these at a reasonable price. They prepare you for the oral state exam in california. I have 2 books that i paid 200 each for that prepare you for the written state exam. I can almost be sure they will help you pass. (i did) willing to sell them also. I dont believe the average spanish speaker will understand the terms they brain wash us with to interpret with, so im selling it. :O) ANY TAKERS??? P.S> Much props to Omar in garden grove. I agree COMPLETELY. I was an intern at a few court houses.

Do you mind writing the names of the cd's and books please?
Do you still have them?
Where can I buy them if you sold them?

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Fancee Nancee in Katy, Texas

28 months ago

Mary inTampa in Tampa, Florida said: I wasn't going to say anything, but Displaced did first.

Omar, you're scary. Are you going to be one of those people who goes on a rampage and kills everyone you can?

Life sucks in general . Please don't contribute to the problem.

I am a court interpreter in Houston Texas. I agree with everything Omar says. Its not that he is going to go on a violent rampage, its that seeing this injustice on a daily basis while trying to do your job merits outrage...Omar thanks for your insight.

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Considering in Boise, Idaho

27 months ago

Assuming everything said about the job is true, would it be worth doing for a short period of time just to save up some money. I'm considering becoming certified and just doing it for a year or so to save up some extra money to pay for school. Everyone that has had something negative to say has talked about doing it for a long time and how the job and injustice "wears" on you. What if it was just a temporary stepping stone? Would you still recommend something else?

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Marianne in Los Angeles, California

27 months ago

I'm thinking about changing careers also, have heard a lot about SCSI and it seems to me that those who finished the programs passed both tests.
Could you share with me the experience? would you say online is better than on campus classes?

one more thing, this might souns stupid but, you dont have to undergo any background checks to get certified in california correct? im asking since in Maryland they require you to pass it before you can even get your certification!..

thanks!

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James in Mexicali, Mexico

27 months ago

I am a newly certified Court Interpreter, it's been a little under a year so far. I was in the same boat as a lot of the people on this forum not too long ago. It is true, SCSI is a wonderful place to go to learn how to pass the oral test. They don't work magic but if you've got the stuff they give you the tools to pass the oral.

With that said, the school makes you believe there is a need for Spanish interpreters currently. Nothing could be furthur from the truth. There is a glut in the market, way too many people are becomming certified and the demand for interpreters has gone down tremendously due to the poor economy, increased security at the border and more deportations.

To people who aspire to make a living off of interpreting, I would like to know, what do you think you will earn monthly and annually? 10 years ago there were freelance terps who raked in up to 70K a year. Those days are loooong gone and not comming back unless immigraton control is relaxed, the economy booms and Mexican family size increases dramatically, and all of those factors are highly unlikely in the forseable future. Now, a GOOD year would bring in something in the low 30s. Is that enough for you to live off of, travel, maintaint your car, pay your own taxes, buy your own insurance with? And that's a GOOD year for well connected terp that has been around and has contacts. It also assumes you do nothing else and at the drop of a hat can take on last minute assignments. In order to even be offered work outside of your immediate area, you will have to foregoe millage (due to the overabundance of terps) abd this will be necessary if you want to even work due to the lesser demand.

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James in Mexicali, Mexico

27 months ago

I hate to discourage people but this is the reality of the situation. The state courts are going throgh budget issues and they are making do with their staff terps. Furloughs and lay offs are a possibilty...and they won't hire an independt interpreter to cover a day if they don't have the money to pay heir staff. Freelancers that have been around have priority at the courts anyways and again, the sheer volume or need for interpreters has gone down, so it will be hard for newcommers to make a living off of this.

If you doubt any of this, call around to agencies and expain you are studying to become certfified and are wondering how demand is for Spanish interpreters. Even ask SCSI for their list of agencies and call and email them directly, most of them will tell you they closed down a year or two ago or not taking any new names for their list. Ask how many assignments their Spanish interpreters they have on their list and what the average number of assignments are for them on a monthly or yearly basis. If you visit actual court houses, the staff interpreters won't know this information since they don't have to freelance. But do your homework and find out for yourself if this is viable for you, espcially in your area and how much you can afford to live off of.

The situation is the worst in San Diego and LA...due to budget and too much supply and not enough demand. Times have changed and this is the new reality for the forseeable future.

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David in San Francisco, California

27 months ago

James in Mexicali, Mexico said: I hate to discourage people but this is the reality of the situation. The state courts are going throgh budget issues and they are making do with their staff terps. Furloughs and lay offs are a possibilty...and they won't hire an independt interpreter to cover a day if they don't have the money to pay heir staff. Freelancers that have been around have priority at the courts anyways and again, the sheer volume or need for interpreters has gone down, so it will be hard for newcommers to make a living off of this.

If you doubt any of this, call around to agencies and expain you are studying to become certfified and are wondering how demand is for Spanish interpreters. Even ask SCSI for their list of agencies and call and email them directly, most of them will tell you they closed down a year or two ago or not taking any new names for their list. Ask how many assignments their Spanish interpreters they have on their list and what the average number of assignments are for them on a monthly or yearly basis. If you visit actual court houses, the staff interpreters won't know this information since they don't have to freelance. But do your homework and find out for yourself if this is viable for you, espcially in your area and how much you can afford to live off of.

The situation is the worst in San Diego and LA...due to budget and too much supply and not enough demand. Times have changed and this is the new reality for the forseeable future.

Totally agree. The same is sadly true for starting criminal defense attorneys and everybody in the justice system. San Francisco mirrors the situation in San Diego and LA. In this age of budget cuts, there are too many of everybody.

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Edword medrano in Santa Ana, California

27 months ago

James
Dont worry youre not dicouraging me, I have heard a lot of negative people in my life. I do my best to ignore them. What you are saying about interpreting could apply to many other fields. Take Firefighting for instance, that was a once nearly sacred profession,but now even that institution is not safe from downsizing,layoffs or outsourcing. There was a 128 year old Fire department that was recently disolved and absorbed by a County fire department. Guess what? What happened there has not slowed down people from trying to become Firefighters one bit! People still have hope,I have hope and I hope that everyone who wants to be an interpreter continues to work toward it. I attend SCSI and I have not heard anyone students or instructors talking about 30K being the maximum you can make now. You say that there is a glut of interpreters, I guess there would be if hundreds of people were passing everytime an exam was given. But that is no the case. I looked on the Cal Interpreter website minutes ago, it showed that there are 1273 interpreters in a state with 58 Counties, that is an average of a Whopping 22 Terps per county. The population in California is nearly 38 million as of 2011. Hispanics make up 16% of that number. Thats about 6 million people.
Recent articles in many newspapers and television stations around the country said Hispanics are the fastest growing minority in the country. Thats contrary to your personal opinion. Last year I spoke to a woman who owns her own interpreting business, I told her that I was going to SCSI, furthermore she said she has many connections with interpreting business' and to get in touch with her when I pass the exam. That sounds contrary to what youre saying and I know other people who own their own interpreting business. I dont deny that there are financial problems in the state and nation. I just choose to fight on for what I want! I choose not to listen to the Doomsayers. Im not sure you are an interpreter!

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James in Mexicali, Mexico

27 months ago

Edward,

First of all, why would I lie? If you have connections in place with people who will give you work, great for you. If you think that there is really a ton of work out there based on your opinion and statistics and numbers you have read, that is your right, but I am telling you as someone in the field what the reality is.

Regarding your analagy to firegihting, every community needs fire fighters. Not every community has a large monolingual Spanish speaking population that needs legal interpretations on a daily basis. That is the difference. There is a ton of litigation going on, but not every body needs a Spanish interpreter. And when they do, it isn't daily. And you won't be the only Spanish interpreter waiting to help.

Regarding the sheer numbers, SCSI has an OOOOLD newsclip on their website supporting what you said. Consider the source. Those millions of Californians that are Hispanic don't all need interpreters. And yes, Hispanics are the fastest growing group, no one ever disputed that. But your assumption that this is true due to immigration is inaacurate, it is because Hispanic families that live here have more children than other ethnic groups. And when people are born and raised here, they don't usually need interpreters.

You can believe what you want, but the truth is immigration INTO the US has gone down tremendously over recent years. Deportations are up. The economy is poor. Mexican families are smaller than ever in Mexico. These are all factors that reduce the demand for interpreters....and add to that the fact that there are more certified interpreters than ever and you have the situation where there isn't enough work to go around.

I run into clueless attorneys that say I must be swamped with work at courts...so yes, I know people too who think there is a lot of work. I heard many anecdotal stories about people wanting other students at SCSI to get in touch with them when they became certified.

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James in Mexicali, Mexico

27 months ago

Regarding pay, of course you haven't heard anything about 30K being a good salary from SCSI. They never go into pay, they aren't stupid. If students there KNEW the reality, they would never spend 600 dollars per course and then money for the state tests. But take the facts: a half day is paid at 156 and full day 282 in court. Now ask yourself, how many half or full days do you really think you will work at court? VERY easy way to calculate your earnings.

The truth is, you will get mainly half day calls and sporadically. I guarantee you a new terp will not work over 45 days a year in superior court. The rest of the times will be through agencies, and again, they have their experienced interpreters they prefer, so you will be picking up the assignments others can't accept. And those days will not surpass 45 either. And all this assumes you are free the day they call you.

So ask yourself, if you charge between 156-282 at most 90 times a year...how much do you make annually? I know you don't have experience and you assume that just being willing to travel and do anything will keep you busy. Well, it will get you around 100 days, but not more than that, at least in this economy.

If you think I am not an interpreter, verify what I have written for yourself. Go to the California Court Interpreters Association's website and contact them-they are certified freelancers. They can back up what I have said. Ask staff interpreters at the courts WHY they became staff vs. previously being independent interpreters?

Edward, no one is discouraging you. I am just putting the reality out there since SCSI won't do it. Other people have the right to now what the situation is really like and you can choose to ignore it, but others might realize that the work simply isn't there at the pay won't cut it. If you have low overhead and don't need to earn a lot and can be free everyday in the event you get a job offer, then this profession is for you.

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James in Mexicali, Mexico

27 months ago

I forgot to mention....the superior courts have "open" positions for staff interpreters online in several different counties. This isn't really a job that is open, they just continually receive applications in the event a position becomes available and to have an endless list of independents. But they aren't actively hiring and there are maaaany other "applicants", especially considering the "positions" were first posted years back.

BTW, back in the good times, as little as 4 or 5 years ago, there WERE freelance independent Spanish interpreters who were earning up to 70K. Those days are long gone and aren't comming back and they are the reason why the state wanted more certified interpreters-so they didn't have to pay for hotels and gas and could just hire someone local and avoid those expenses. So I hate to say it but those days aren't comming back and this is the new normal.

Interpreting is wonderful and I enjoy it, but as a career it is vitually unsustainable if you are the sole income earner in your house or if you don't have other sources of income. If you want a new car, a home, insurance, to have a family, this isn't a practical job choice nowadays. I know it hurts to read that, but don't kill the messenger. Do your homework and find out through other freelance certified terps and they will give you the same info.

Rosie Gomez is the coordinator of interpreters in Orange County, call her and ask her for a list of the supervisors at each regional court in the county to see how often they are using independent Spanish interpreters. It will be eye opening. And then check with LA, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. San Diego doesn't even use independents.

Find a way to supplement your income once you become certified, you will be grateful you did so. Translating is a good option to supplement. As you become known, a few years down the road, work WILL pick up, but that will put you in the 30-40K range at best.

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Edword medrano in Santa Ana, California

27 months ago

James
I am complerely inundated by your negative comments and negative view of life. This isnt the end of the world is
It? I would like to respond to the many points you make and granted you have some good points, but your comments are not the GOSPEL!!! However, I do have a life to live and refuting everything you have said would take up my valuable time. Time which would be better spent doing other things. As I mentioned to you in my first comment to you, your negativety is not stopping me from my goals, which include becoming an interpreter. I am well aware of the fact that these are not the best of times and they are not the worst of times. I choose to be as positive as I can be, no matter what the circumstances are. I have been thru tough times and im still here. Thats all I have time for now, gotta go live my life now! In as positive a manner as I can. By the way you ever heard of Tony Robbins? He helps those with negativity problems look him up online :-)
Oops spent way too much time responding, bye

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Soffie in Anaheim, California

27 months ago

I have heard that the online program is just as good. I have only been an on site student and I think personally that on site is best. You do not need to take any type of background check in California to test and get certified. But I asume that if you get hired by the courts then I'm sure they will do a background check.

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James in Mexicali, Mexico

27 months ago

Edward,

At no time have I discouraged you from the profession. I am simply putting important, accurate information out there that I would have liked to have known when I was in your position or that of other aspiring interpreters. If you don't view it that way so be it, but I have every right to share my experience irregardless of how you personally see it. I won't respond to your attacks, you have said I am not an interpreter and I am negative, clearly you are missing the point and mistakenly believe these posts are about you. They are in fact for people in general, if they don't serve your agenda so be it, no one forces you to come back to this board and read them. Go study, enjoy life and keep up with your internet psychiatrist you recommended. You have cherry picked convenient truths about the profession and chosen to ignore a real world interpeter, so be it. I provided other sources that would verify what I have stated since you didn't want to hear it from me. In general, people who misunderstand other's points so readily and make things about them when they aren't, don't do well in the INTERPRETING field, so if I were you I would be careful about your not so clever remarks where you attempted to insult me. It is a small field and word gets out about competance, personality and arrogance....so keep that in mind before attacking someone who is actually in a position to speak to the issues vs. someone who only knows things through hearsay.

I hope your optimism serves you well when it comes to taking the exam and finding work and supporting yourself. PLEASE post back here and let us know how you do on the exams and how frequently you get work once certified. Just because something isn't what you want to hear doesn't mean it's negative or untrue. Good luck, you will need it.

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Omar in Anaheim, California

27 months ago

Reading the exchange between Edw'o'rd Medrano (who apparently doesn't even know how to spell his own first name correctly) and James in Mexicali I can't help but notice the obtuseness of Edw'o'rd's position: he's not certified, he's never worked as a court interpreter and he's clueless as to the new budgetary realities that currently govern the interpretation market... yet he STILL has the audacity to dispute the excellent points & facts presented by James! I wouldn't even bother to debate such a moron; LET HIM waste his time & money James! Edw'o'rd deserves no help from anyone. Allow him to learn the hard way.

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James in Mexicali, Mexico

27 months ago

Hey Omar.

Yeah, you are right. But I wasn't conveying information to him specifically, I was playing off of his naivity (to say it nicely) so that other people in the same position know the reality of the profession. I remember being at SCSI not too long ago and I didn't know a sole independent interpreter. I was definantly lead to believe there was a ton of work out there, but the reality is much different.

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Edword medrano in Santa Ana, California

26 months ago

Omar in Anaheim, California said: Reading the exchange between Edw'o'rd Medrano (who apparently doesn't even know how to spell his own first name correctly) and James in Mexicali I can't help but notice the obtuseness of Edw'o'rd's position: he's not certified, he's never worked as a court interpreter and he's clueless as to the new budgetary realities that currently govern the interpretation market... yet he STILL has the audacity to dispute the excellent points & facts presented by James! I wouldn't even bother to debate such a moron; LET HIM waste his time & money James! Edw'o'rd deserves no help from anyone. Allow him to learn the hard way.

Omar,
How are you doing Bud? Please dont mispell my name again! I spelled it Edword, like you see it now. No one denies these are hard economic times, but we have to fight through it. To do that we have to be positive and believe. Look Bud, I have written to Mayors, Police Chiefs, Governors and even a President or two and have disagreed with their positions.Now I can put Interpreters on the list. I looked through the California Interpreters website and did not find any Interpreter named Omar. Are you a undercover Interpreter? A secret agent Interpreter? Is Omar your real name? Omar, I work hard for what I have! Nobody has given me anything and what I have achieved, I have achieved without your help, imagine that. I would not be afraid to debate you on a variety of issues. Why not? If only you really existed. Take care BUD

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ed in Colton, California

26 months ago

Hello Edword, (part I)
Let me tell you a few things. I’ve been an interpreter for 12 years. Ever since I started this career I’ve been swamped with work. I literally had to quit a few of my gigs because my wife got tired of not having me home. It has nothing to do with the profession. It has to do with YOU. Since my days of college, before becoming an interpreter, I’ve always had 2 or three jobs while many people I knew were living off unemployment. There are hundreds of lawyers; some unemployed, some making a meager salary and some filthy rich. Certainly it is not the career, it is their vision of life (glass half empty/full thing). Once in a while I encounter interpreters that tell me that work is slow, that there are a lot of new interpreters, etc. You know how long I’ve heard that story? Since the day I started interpreting. It boils down to this: be courteous, responsible, on time, humble, and never burn your bridges. Times are tough but they’ve always been tough. It is hard for ANYBODY to land a job in these days for that matter. Interpreters have the highest possibility of landing those jobs. I know this is trite but here are the HARD facts AGAIN: Employment of interpreters and translators is expected to grow 42 percent from 2010 to 2020, much faster than the average for all occupations.
(www.bls.gov/ooh/Media-and-Communication/Interpreters-and-translators.htm#tab-6)
Oh, yeah and for those who say this is a bunch of bull, show me statistics that come close to at least half of this one. Let’s say it was 10%, certainly beats being a teacher, lawyer, or even a Registered Nurse. Somebody said that we were averaging like 30,000 a year (if we were lucky). I will entertain your theory. How many days a week or hours do you have to work to make that amount? Let’s say I do two DEPOS a week ($350). A month that’s $2800. A year that’s $33,600. Do you know what a teacher makes a year, IF they find a job ever in there life????

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ed in Colton, California

26 months ago

Edword (part II)

I can tell you it is pretty comparable to that amount. The difference is that interpreter makes this in two days (a few of those are no shows by the way). As an interpreter in the field I can tell you that many of my friends would not be doing this with that salary. Sure, you have to drive a lot at the beginning but once you start making connections things get better.
Look, I’ve done everything in this field: medical interpreting, court interpreting, conference interpreting, phone interpreting, etc. I’ve given papers in national conferences, I train interpreters, I’ve interpreted in international events, I have a bachelors in Translation & Interpretation, I have a Masters in Spanish & Linguistics, I teach interpreting in CSUF, UCR, and tested students in UCLA. I’m currently a staff interpreter at a court in San Bernardino. Hundreds of court employees are being laid off, furloughed or demoted except…yes guess…you got it: Court Interpreters. Edword, if you email me I can give you real orientation. I have the credentials, the experience and true knowledge in the field. I personally know Nestor Wagner, Holly Mikkelson, Alexander Rainof, Olivia Johnston, and other big names in the field (in California). People who don’t need to worry about finding work. I’m there and you can be there even if there were a million interpreters.

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James in Mexicali, Mexico

26 months ago

Well, now a staff interpreter, who is insulated from the real world of FREELANCING, has chimed in. I also work in Rancho and SB....how often would you say the county of SB is using independents? What about intermittants? What about the Opt Outs? And why did you become staff if things were so busy freelancing? Oh that's right, you had to slow down, so you went to work 40 hours a week at court. RIGHT.

I have no problem with you sharing your viewpoint as a staff court interpreter, but to speak to freelancing, which is what all newbies are, is really disingenous on your behalf. Your assumption that there are two depos a week for most Spanish interpreters is whimsical, I wish it were so. Also, 350 earned? You do realize most depos are half day and a more accurate figure nowadays for two would be 300 in total?

I too have also met the *OMG* Hlly Mikkelson, as will most CA interpreters. She does the circuit just like the rest of them. And she doesn't even interpret, she gives work shops and made a fortune off her materials. Just like all the other "big names." Those people knew they could make more money by helping people pass a test, they could care less about someone finding work after they are certified, they are in it for the money. The state also has "open" positions in order to get more people to take the exams...which is a huge business...just think, all those people paying for a test...paying annual dues every two years...people paying to study for it on their own...

You advice would have been accurate if it was time stampted 5 years ago. Please, tell us what kind of demand and number of cases you personally see in SBSC? It has gone DOWN across the board because more people are being deported, the economy is bad, people are leaving the country on their own, there is almost no immigration comming into CA from Mexico at this point...and to ignore all those key elements...elements that create the demand for our profssion, is a disservice.

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James in Mexicali, Mexico

26 months ago

I have said all along, if someone wants to become a court certified interpreter, so be it. But have a back up plan because it ISNT how people say it is. The people who will "help" you into te field are the ones making money off of you. They wont be there to help you find work,because there isnt any and they dont have need for it, they "teach", not interpret.

Let's be realistic, even if you earn 300 a week, there are no taxes withheld. So you better save for that, so you probably really only made 260. Then let's remember you don't have insurance either, hope you never get sick! So just throwing around a random numer like 300, which you may or may not make in a week, is misleading. Some weeks you won't get ANY work. It won't matter if you are willing to travel. And if you are, maybe there is a job in Needles that pays 150. Well how much will that really PAY you after gas and tax you have to pay? Not to mention wear and tear on the car.

Just as you encourage people to become interpreters, I encourage them to find out from FREELANCERS what it is like, since that is the work available. If there was a pressing need for court interpreters, there would be open positions, but there aren't and there won't be. There are no furloughs up until now, but let's wait until November and see what happens with the tax proposals. No one is saying the Interpreting Dept will be eliminated, but if judges are forced to juggle schedules to make do with fewer interpreters...they will manage, just like they did in LA during the strike.

Regarding your numbers for the explosive growth of interpreting over the comming years, those are EXPECTED numbers. It doesn't mean it's so. And any independent interpreter can tell you that those numbers are much different for Spanish certified interpreters.

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James in Mexicali, Mexico

26 months ago

Yes, there has always been an element of interpreters who aren't good at what they do or miserable or what have you. Demand for our services has gone down, despite what the Judicial Council, private schools and businesspeople want you to think. If you truely believe there is sooo much work out there for anyone willing to simply work hard, I encourage you to quit your staff position, let it open up for some other interpreter, and see how accurate your advise it. Why people talk about things they know nothing about, or something they did many years ago, before an economic crash and immigration control is beyond me. Don't disseminate misinformation among people that want to know the truth about what you can really earn.

And please, don't use false equivelencies between lawyers and certified court interpreters. Not every litigant needs a Spanish interpreter. Not every Hispanic needs an interpreter. Not every LEP needs a Spanish interpter. There will always be litigation and a need for lawyers, regardless of a state budger or immigration control. Those issues affect interpreters way more than attorneys. And no one is out there claiming we have a huge shortage of attorneys...so let's stop the disingenous encouragement.

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ed in Colton, California

26 months ago

My dear friend. You limit yourself so much. For your information, I do plenty of freelance interpreting. I don’t live in a shell. You and I live in different worlds, yes. I do DEPOS, medical appointments, city council meetings, international conferences. And guess what, I do it right after work. Yes, after 5pm. All the time. Sure, I’m doing less cases in the court. So? I get paid the same (my full day). Things are going to get worse in the courts? YES. So? Look, I can get laid off tomorrow and be packed with work. I run into interpreters that say the same thing you say and others that say the complete opposite. So, they just have a gift from God to find work???? This is not fiction my friend. I’m not saying you’re going to be a millionaire. I’m just saying there is work. Just because it is slow in some areas doesn’t mean there is no work. You just gotta hustle. I can give you the name of some agencies if you need some extra work. The problem is that some interpreters think that just because they pass the test they own the world and can charge outrageous amounts or that work will fall from the sky. No my friend, again, this is like any other job: you have to get creative. Oh yes, Oooo…I know Holly…she is just another name. How about Alex Rainof? Know him? Of course not. Had dinner with him yesterday in Long Beach and I bet every California interpreter does too right. You and I probably have met in court before. No disrespect, you seem like a bright interpreter, I can just talk from the stats and my experience. And about your comment: “had to slow down, so you went to work 40 hours a week at court. RIGHT”. Huh? Why is it so hard to believe that I have all this work and you don’t? Speak for yourself please. So, all these people make all this money off these interpreters? So? They’re not stealing? You make it sound like if they make millions off their work. Holly doesn’t work because she’s a full time professor at Monterrey. Tell you what. We could close down every sing

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ed in Colton, California

26 months ago

Tell you what. We could close down every single university for 5 years and we still couldn’t find work for all the professionals that are out there. So why should we stop producing interpreters. We need more so we can get rid of lousy interpreters. It’s called competition. That’s is why I’m inundated with work and some are not. So I teach? So I go abroad to interpret? So I do DEPOS on the weekends? It is still work. Does it mean I have to wait until we get an influx of immigrants so I can find ways to make money off this career? You can wait, I’ll continue making money and I will continue to motivate people to study this beautiful and rewarding career.

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James in Mexicali, Mexico

26 months ago

Depos and medical appts after 5? And on the weekend? PLEASE tell me which agencies are sending you those jobs. And you wanted to slow down, so you are a 40 hour a week staff interpreter, yet you still take assignments after a full day and on the weekends? Sorry, I find that hard to believe. Maybe you donate your services at community meetings, church, what have you, but I have never heard of weekend depos and international conferences in San Bernardino after 5pm. Sorry, that just doesn't sound real. But even if it were, you know perfectly well that isn't the norm.

You are right, there are plenty of bad interpreters out there...but those are not the new interpreters. They are the ones who have been around forever and won't retire or don't want to learn anything new. But I am not talking about those selective intereters not gettng work. I am talking about the go getters, like myself, who travel over 4 different counties, two states and two countries for work, who foregoe millage in order to accept assignments, who know their stuff, who has connections through professional organizations, who has good relationships with the court interpreter coordinators and interpreters...and the information I have provided is across the board for other interpreters in similar situations.

Who is charging overly high rates? Are you suggesting undercutting? If you do that, maybe there is a ton of work out there. I charge 10-20% above the court rate for non-court assignments. That is very reasonable, especially considering what people used to charge 5 years ago during the good times. If you undercut the wages to get jobs you will really damage professional relationships and reveal yourself to be an unknowledgeable and unethical interpreter.

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James in Mexicali, Mexico

26 months ago

And let's clear up the difference from your hypothesis about closing universities for 5 years...theoretically. Here is the thing, the state HAS slashed budgets from the universities and therefore, enrollment, they aren't automatically admitting people in like before. And also, those majors take at least 4 years. Studying at SCSI takes a year. So that is the difference. Interpreting is a niche profession, you know that. So to promote it like jobs are a dime a dozen is misleading.

Even good interpreters with excellent conenctions, interpersonal skills and knowledge are having a hard time. Some knew the writing was on the wall years back and became staff like I am assuming you did. Others became opt outs, but that ship has sailed too. The panorama is bleak with an endless flow of people becomming certified and a shrinking population that needs our services. There is not a ton of work since there are many interpreters in all areas now. There is no shortage anymore and there won't be anytime soon. If you see the smaller case load in court, why is it hard for you to extrapolate that the same has happened outside of court in depos and QMEs?

If people choose this path they have the right to know what it is really like from someone in the trenches, telling the truth vs. what people who teach/sell industry related materials say.

Nestor is brilliant, Holly is a business woman, but she still does the conference circuit. She was in San Francisco for one by the AOC last November and in Mexicali last month. She is no stranger or star amongst interpreters. I can rattle off many more like you did, but why? That won't change anything. If you really believe what you are saying you wouldn't even be a staff terp. You would just freelance and earn more and work less. Don't purposely deceive people into believing that there is a need for them in this field and that they will have as much work as they want as long as they hustle and are talented, because the pie is only so big.

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James in Mexicali, Mexico

26 months ago

Many of the new interpreters have had to work VERY hard to get into the field. They have had to learn the code of ethics, proper terms and the techniques compared with people who trail blazed, but never had to study perse to get where they were. So I am very passionate about new interpreters because it is a lot of work to get certified. But the bottom line is, once certified, you are willing to do a lot, make continued sacrifces etc in order to get work and be known. So when that doesn't happen, it is frustrating. And that isn't because of attitude necessarily, or lack of desire. It is just reality, there is only so much need and there are plenty of certified, available interpreters. And we also want to support ourselves at this...so when you are not working...it is not easy. Maybe you, as an experienced interpreter for over a decade, are in a unique situation, although I know people who have been in the field longer than you and they share my views....but just because you have a sweet heart deal doesn't mean everyone else can or will. Being a former independent from 5 years ago is very different than getting into the field today. That is undeniable and encouraging people is one thing but painting a picture of this huge and growing demand is not accurate at all.

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ed in Colton, California

26 months ago

I don’t have a lot of time but you’re looking at only one pie. I am not deceiving anyone. I can tell you’ve been around and that you know your stuff. However, you can’t discard what I am saying like if I was a lunatic. What you are saying has some truth but you are being exaggerated. Of course I am not going to quit my job. I have a great pension plan and insurance but I’m not scared of losing my job. Work can be slow but it is not as bad as you say. Let me tell you a story. In 2004 I was working as a freelance interpreter. I did the whole nine yards. I took a medical in Ventura in the morning and a psych in Riverside in the afternoon. Medical interpreters (interpreting for over 10 years) would complain that work was slow, there were too many medical interpreters to go around, and that the agencies were using a lot of non certified medical interpreters. I always did an average of 2 medical assignments a day until I started to listen to their bad omens. So, I decided to do some extra work in “preparation” for the “interpreter recession”. I worked for 2 years as a full time staff interpreter for CHOC and 2 years in Long Beach Memorial. Not only was I working the night shifts at these two hospitals but I was also doing my regular daily freelance assignments. Guess what, I ended up leaving one of the jobs (Long Beach). It was just too much work. Your scenario is the same #### with a different smell. At least for me, I see the same story happening.

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ed in Colton, California

26 months ago

Oye James, en una semana me voy de vacaciones por tres semanas para Suramérica. Cuando regrese me gustaría tomarme una cerveza contigo y que hablásemos de esto porque este toma y dame ocupa mucho tiempo. Me parece muy saludable poder tratar el tema y me gusta la manera clara y concisa que utilizas para plantear tus ideas. Sin embargo, no puede ser que 2 intérpretes que se desempeñen en la misma profesión tengan opiniones tan distintas y radicales cuando se trata de trabajo. Es decir, si estuviésemos hablando de cualquier otra política lo entendería pero no de este tema.

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Edword medrano in Santa Ana, California

26 months ago

ed in Colton, California said: Edword (part II)

I can tell you it is pretty comparable to that amount. The difference is that interpreter makes this in two days (a few of those are no shows by the way). As an interpreter in the field I can tell you that many of my friends would not be doing this with that salary. Sure, you have to drive a lot at the beginning but once you start making connections things get better.
Look, I’ve done everything in this field: medical interpreting, court interpreting, conference interpreting, phone interpreting, etc. I’ve given papers in national conferences, I train interpreters, I’ve interpreted in international events, I have a bachelors in Translation & Interpretation, I have a Masters in Spanish & Linguistics, I teach interpreting in CSUF, UCR, and tested students in UCLA. I’m currently a staff interpreter at a court in San Bernardino. Hundreds of court employees are being laid off, furloughed or demoted except…yes guess…you got it: Court Interpreters. Edword, if you email me I can give you real orientation. I have the credentials, the experience and true knowledge in the field. I personally know Nestor Wagner, Holly Mikkelson, Alexander Rainof, Olivia Johnston, and other big names in the field (in California). People who don’t need to worry about finding work. I’m there and you can be there even if there were a million interpreters.

Ed
I cannot emphasize enough how refreshing it is to have another positive point of view on this website! I seem to gravitate toward the positive I am repelled by the negative. Good for you on your accomplishments in Interpreting. I have a much greater appreciation for Spanish now that I am working on becoming an Interpreter. I would like to take you up on your emailing offer to get more info. Here is my email address ocfae2012@gmail.com. Im putting it out there for you and even Omar who called me a Moron. I can agree to disagree agreaably.

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Soffie in Anaheim, California

26 months ago

I am glad to hear some positive views here.
Edword, keep studying and get certified! I am a freelance interpreter and work has been good. I average out about two to three assignments on a daily basis. The more available you are the more assignments you will get. Like someone mentioned already, be on time, courteous and professional and you are in business. ;)
Also,I have to say, many certified interpreters are not happy with newbies because they feel that the new ones are taking all of their work and yes! they can be very discouraging but there is PLENTY of work to go around. If you enjoy this field and are willing to continue to grow you will do great.

Best to you!

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James in Mexicali, Mexico

26 months ago

It's OK Ed, we can agree to disagree. I believe your experience, but the problem is 2004 is a different animal than 2012. But I do know what you mean, you have to ge out there and market yourself. So there is truth to what you are saying...but times have changed. Send me your email and we can meet up. I will be working in Rancho on the 27th full day.

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James in Mexicali, Mexico

26 months ago

Soffie,

I am happy that you have 2 or 3 assignments per day. Can you please provide details regarding how long each assignment lasts, what theyconsist of and which agency you are getting these multiple assignments from daily?

I think that if things are so rosy, people should be willing to share the pie, especially since there is "plenty" of work. If you share in your good fortune, more people can be positive.

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