Getting a spanish interpreter job.

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Host

How did you get your start doing spanish interpreter work, and what career moves did you make to get to your current position?

Do you need a particular educational background?

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Angela Rose in Springfield, Missouri

86 months ago

There seems to be no educational options in my area for becoming a Spanish interpreter. How can I get started?

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CJ in Enterprise, Utah

85 months ago

Angela Rose in Springfield, Missouri said: There seems to be no educational options in my area for becoming a Spanish interpreter. How can I get started?

It isn't about what you know...it's all about who you know.
Go to the courts and make some friends. Some states offer a basic competency test, that if you can pass they will license you.
I freelance for some attorneys and bill in excess of $100/hr.

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Yolanda G. Puchner in Los Angeles, California

84 months ago

CJ in Enterprise, Utah said: It isn't about what you know...it's all about who you know.
Go to the courts and make some friends. Some states offer a basic competency test, that if you can pass they will license you.
I freelance for some attorneys and bill in excess of $100/hr.

It is not about who you know. You have to be State Certified to work in the courts. It is mandated by law. Yolanda Puchner

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Yolanda G. Puchner in Los Angeles, California

84 months ago

Take a one year course at least in one of the Cal State universities or similar. Then practice for another year or so and then take the State test to become certified. Only then you can interpreter in the courts. It is not who you know it is being certified to do so.

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Yolanda G. Puchner in Los Angeles, California

83 months ago

Host said: How did you get your start doing spanish interpreter work, and what career moves did you make to get to your current position?

Do you need a particular educational background?

Yes, besides being completely bilingual you need to take a course and learn how to interpret. I have a degree in Translation of Modern Languages into Spanish, but that did not make me an interpreter. I had to learn how to interpret and it might take up to 2 years of hard studying to be able to pass the State tests that are harder than the bar tests for attorneys. UCLA and several Cal State colleges teach such classes as well as the wonderful Santa Fe Sp[rings School of Interpretation, of Nestor Wagner's.

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Gina Gonzalez in Hyde Park, Massachusetts

83 months ago

I have been looking for info on how to pursue this area.
Currently there are no courses in the colleges in Ma
and will those courses prepare me for the state exam.
I have heard from professors that the courses are to general not specific to prepare you for taking the state exam.......any suggestion

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Yolanda G. Puchner in Los Angeles, California

83 months ago

Look for private Interpreter associations or groups that may have classes or check any colleges. I am sure there is a class somewhere. If you do not succeed, download penal and other related glossaries from the Internet and memorize them. Also buy a Penal code and memorize the description of all crimes and their respective translation in your target language. Practice simultaneous with the radio and TV programs Law & Order, old Perry Mason movies etd. Good luck!

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MAGDA RIVERA YANKELOWITZ in Cary, North Carolina

83 months ago

Thank you Yolanda, when I don't work, I am in the computer searching everything related to Medical Interpreters,but please continue giving me support I need it. Sometimes you feel a little frustraded.

Looking to hear from you,

Best regards,
Magda

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Gina Gonzalez in Hyde Park, Massachusetts

83 months ago

Thank you so much for your response....It gives me some hope its been so hard to contact someone with knowledge on this issue and to actually have someone to answer me back :}
Thanks

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MAGDA RIVERA YANKELOWITZ in Cary, North Carolina

83 months ago

Hi Gina.

If you have any positive word let me know,
and thank to share with me your time,

Adios,

Magda

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Yolanda G. Puchner in Los Angeles, California

83 months ago

Your're welcome Gina. I also advised othre people to memorize glorssaries and to go to the local courts and wath interpreters at work and take notes.

Yolanda

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Gerardo in Riverside, California

82 months ago

Acebo.com sells products for translators and interpreters. Also read newspapers from Mexico and Spain since here in California they base the test on Mexican law.

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Yolanda G. Puchner in Los Angeles, California

82 months ago

They do not base Spanish in Mexican law here in California, you as an interpreter have to find equivalents to translate American Law into the regional Mexican, Nicaraguan, etc. law so your clients understand you.

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Gina Gonzalez in Hyde Park, Massachusetts

82 months ago

Hello
I finally got some info on how to start looking into this field.
One I did find a college in a University and I am currently in the middle of taking the entrance exams to take the course but I also went on line found the workers comp court website they had a list of interpreters that are court certified that someone could contact if they needed one. I contacted them individually and asked if I could shadow them in the court house. I said I wanted to get the feel of how it actually works. I received very good responses and they have even gave me some information and have welcomed my presence in the court house with them.

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Gerardo in Riverside, California

82 months ago

Good Luck to you Gina, Amazon.com has great books for interpreters. Another great tool i have is the spanish-english visual dictionary. Blacks law dictionary is another great source for legal terminology.

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Gerardo in Riverside, California

82 months ago

Yolanda G. Puchner in Los Angeles, California said: They do not base Spanish in Mexican law here in California, you as an interpreter have to find equivalents to translate American Law into the regional Mexican, Nicaraguan, etc. law so your clients understand you.

Yes, I Agree with you that we must be able to find equivalents. But according to a Source at the Socal School of Interpretation. The California EXAM is based on Mexicanismos and Mexican Law. Not mentioned are slang terms from Nicaragua, El Salvador, Puerto Rico or any other Latin American country. This particular school stresses Mexicanismos.

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Staff interpreter in New York, New York

81 months ago

CJ in Enterprise, Utah said: It isn't about what you know...it's all about who you know.
Go to the courts and make some friends. Some states offer a basic competency test, that if you can pass they will license you.
I freelance for some attorneys and bill in excess of $100/hr.

How can you even call yourself an interpreter with this attitude? It is about WHAT you know, you make it sound like anybody can interpret if they know the right people. This may be the case in rural areas, but it is wrong and a diservice to the profession.

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maria rosas in Minneapolis, Minnesota

81 months ago

Host said: How did you get your start doing spanish interpreter work, and what career moves did you make to get to your current position?

Do you need a particular educational background?

I started with an agency doing medical interpreting. I never did do much with it.

I would like to get certified in the medical field or in the court system.

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Yolanda G. Puchner in Los Angeles, California

81 months ago

You are far off my friend... I have worked as an interpreter for many years and of course you find crazy people whose jobs go up to their heads like some judges and EVERYBODY including the white supremacy you talk about calls them Your Honor becaue that's the way you address a judge. The same way you should address as Sir, any bum you find on the street because they are also human beings. You don't kiss any ass, you just use your skills and learn more vocabulary and dialectal expressions from the people who you interpret for. You must not like your job. An interpreter does not interpret only for criminals, although even them are human beings who should know at least what are they accused of and what's going ono in their trials. You also interpret for victims, abused children, and YES, even the people who are abused by some police who find somebody to SPEAK FOR THEM. There is certain discrimination, I have to accept it, but it's mainly jealousy for the different type of work we do and they do try to discriminate you, but that'w why we went on strike last year to geyt some respect and when we were ignored and disrespected we went to the legislature and are working very hard to beteter our profession with senators who understand and are willing to provide help. That is what we did a few years ago, fought and GOT, becoming employees, and will keep fightring until we get to where we want to get. After all, people wo speak other languages are 54% in this State, and growing, and is a service to our fellow human citizens. Not all Americans are perverts and war criminals, I amone of them and I protest against the war and will do something besides criticizing to better this country. Interpreting is not cooperating with evil, it is supplying language assistance in a setting that calls for compassion and justice. Please change your prefession if you do not like it. You will not discourage us.

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Susan in Boston, Massachusetts

81 months ago

Why do court interpreters make so much more money than medical interpreters? I know that we don't have any certification process but we're working on it. However, my main question is how to start out working as a medical interpreter. I have been to school and am working on my Spanish and medical terminology. What is the best way to go when you have little experience, applying to everything or focusing on something like per diem work? Is it good to work with an agency or go solo? We have a lot of great hospitals but we also have a lot of great interpreters. It's interesting to see how different court interpreting is from medical reporting and how different things are in different parts of the country. Hey, Juan Doe, maybe you should try medical interpreting. We're nobler. Just kidding.

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Yolanda G. Puchner in Los Angeles, California

81 months ago

Court interpreters make more money because we go to training one year or two depending on how much time you can dedicate to the training. We have a semester of instruction for each interpreting mode, 6 months of sight translation, 6 months of consequitive, six months of simultaneous and law classes and after that it might take you up to another year to practice all those at least to pass the test with a 75%. We soak glossaries on penal, civil, family law, immigration terminology, vocabulary on real estate, automotive, ballistics, medical, assembly bills, fingerprinting, insults and invective, forensic, weapons and firearms, tools, and to acquire speed in doing opening and closing arguments in trials we translated presidential speeches and other political and literary addresses of people to an audience. We practice with real transcripts from hearings, did decalage, learned the Rozin some kind of short note taking for long sentences in the witness stand, discussed terminology on DUIs, traffic, and juvenal court hearings. Studied the penal, civil and vehicle codes, learned about health and safety code crimes etc., etc., and it takes a while to learn terminology on the different dialects of your source language. In my case there are 19 "dialects" of Spanish and sometimes one word means different things in 2 or more of them. I am not trying to discourage you. If you want to be a Medical Interpreter, start placing terms and vocab on flash cards and study them on both languages at all times, on lines, at the supermarket, while waiting at the dentist or doctor and practice with TV programs, books, tapes anything that comes handy. I practiced with old Perry Mason movies! After a while you want to know how to say everything in your target language and it becomes a habit.... GOOD LUCk!

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Henry/Enrique in Lynn, Massachusetts

81 months ago

I'm looking for a career change, but I don't know where to get started. I have done some interpreting for schools and buisness however, I'm not certified nor do I have a degree. also, I have taught ESL to spanish speaking adults for the past 5 years. Any suggests where I might start?

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Gerardo in Riverside, California

81 months ago

acebo.com sells products for interpreters also try amazon.com the sell dictionaries for bilinguals

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Yolanda G. Puchner in Los Angeles, California

81 months ago

Hi,

Start by finding a school to train in a local college or university or even a technical school I'm sure there has to be a class to prepare for the State test. You have been teaching so you could even try the Federal Test, this test is more difficult but the pay is higher than to State certified interpreters. Ask in the courts where people go for training. Good luck...

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Gerardo in Riverside, California

81 months ago

acebo.com sells products for interpreters also try amazon.com the sell dictionaries for bilinguals

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Gerardo in Riverside, California

81 months ago

Hi Yolanda, How long have you been a court interpreter?

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Susan in Quincy, Massachusetts

81 months ago

Yolanda G. Puchner in Los Angeles, California said: Court interpreters make more money because we go to training one year or two depending on how much time you can dedicate to the training. We have a semester of instruction for each interpreting mode, 6 months of sight translation, 6 months of consequitive, six months of simultaneous and law classes and after that it might take you up to another year to practice all those at least to pass the test with a 75%. We soak glossaries on penal, civil, family law, immigration terminology, vocabulary on real estate, automotive, ballistics, medical, assembly bills, fingerprinting, insults and invective, forensic, weapons and firearms, tools, and to acquire speed in doing opening and closing arguments in trials we translated presidential speeches and other political and literary addresses of people to an audience. We practice with real transcripts from hearings, did decalage, learned the Rozin some kind of short note taking for long sentences in the witness stand, discussed terminology on DUIs, traffic, and juvenal court hearings. Studied the penal, civil and vehicle codes, learned about health and safety code crimes etc., etc., and it takes a while to learn terminology on the different dialects of your source language. In my case there are 19 "dialects" of Spanish and sometimes one word means different things in 2 or more of them. I am not trying to discourage you. If you want to be a Medical Interpreter, start placing terms and vocab on flash cards and study them on both languages at all times, on lines, at the supermarket, while waiting at the dentist or doctor and practice with TV programs, books, tapes anything that comes handy. I practiced with old Perry Mason movies! After a while you want to know how to say everything in your target language and it becomes a habit.... GOOD LUCk!

Hi, Yolanda. You clearly have a lot of experience in court interpreting. It's really good to hear from interpreters

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Susan in Quincy, Massachusetts

81 months ago

Susan in Quincy, Massachusetts said: Hi, Yolanda. You clearly have a lot of experience in court interpreting. It's really good to hear from interpreters

I'm adding on to what I was saying to Yolanda. It's great to hear from experienced interpreters, even if it is about a different area of interpreting. It sounds like there is a lot more vocabulary and subject matter to learn about for court reporting than for medical. Plus, people have to be represented during a trial and until recently laws did not require that patients be able to communicate in their native language. Plus no certification yet for medical interpreting. Medical interpreting is a pretty new field, at least as a formal career. Kids or whichever bilingual people were around tried to help the patient. Yolanda, thanks for your ideas about improving one's language ability. You'd think that I would know how to improve language skills because I taught ESL, but I always taught beginning and intermediate level. Which was your first language or did you grow up with both of them?

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Susan in Quincy, Massachusetts

81 months ago

Henry/Enrique in Lynn, Massachusetts said: I'm looking for a career change, but I don't know where to get started. I have done some interpreting for schools and buisness however, I'm not certified nor do I have a degree. also, I have taught ESL to spanish speaking adults for the past 5 years. Any suggests where I might start?

Hi, Enrique. I just finished school for medical interpreting and I'm just starting to look for work. I know very little about court interpreting. I live very close to you (Malden, MA, not Quincy), so I know a little about programs in Massachusetts for medical interpreting. I went to Cambridge College, where you get a certificate in Medical Interpreting. It is also possible to do this program for college credit. At Cambridge College, the courses are part-time and at night and almost all of the students work during the day. It takes less than a year to finish the program. BU has a program which is longer and covers some of medical, legal, and community interpreting. UMass Boston might have a program. Harvard Pilgrim Health Plan offers a much shorter course. There are working interpreters who never had formal training in interpreting, but now formal training is recommended. To work anywhere, you'll have to know enough medical terms in both languages to pass a test.

I used to teach ESL, too. It is probably possible to do both. So, if you're doing interpreting other than medical, this hasn't helped you very much, but if you do want to do medical interpreting, I can tell you what I know, which hopefully will be a lot more as time goes on. If you have free time during the day, following an interpreter is a great idea. As a volunteer in a hospital or clinic you can probably do this.

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Gabriel alderete in Toronto, Ontario

81 months ago

Hi, I looking for some interpreter, or translation job, here, in Toronto,Ontario, Canada. Whether in a hospital, court, for whom can't speak English, and need help.I'm a well educated person.i got my bachelor art in drama in 1984 at the University of Havana, Cuba .
I has been working since I moved to Toronto, ( 1989) as a bartender, and a last 8 years as a waiter at the King Edward hotel . Also I have a certificate on Travel & Tourism (travel counselor) ,and right now I'm Study Consecutive translation, and Interpretitation english to Spanish at the University of Toronto .
I'm willing to take any junior position.
my contact information:
gabriel_nani80@yahoo.com

Gaberiel Alderete
25 Mutual St apt 303
Torotno Ontario
M5B 2K1
CANADA
Tel: 416-363-5657

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Yolanda G. Puchner in Los Angeles, California

81 months ago

Hi Gabriel,

I lived in Canada three years but I have no idea of how the courts operate there. I would try going to the main court house and talking to people there you might find out if there is a chance you can find something. Sometimes they need a bilingual person to deal with public and they do not require certification. You might be able to work there temporarily until you get certified. Good luck.

Yolanda

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Esther in Pasadena, California

81 months ago

Host said: How did you get your start doing spanish interpreter work, and what career moves did you make to get to your current position?

Do you need a particular educational background?

Like most interpreters, I bumped into the profession by chance, a court interpreter who was a family friend, asked me to interpret at a medical exam required by an insurance company. I liked it but realized how little I knew and so I embarked on a long journey of learning as much as possible by reading lots of material and if I didn't recognized a word, I'd looked it up. I enrolled in Cal-State LA and went through their program for 19 months, in the mean time I was adquiring experience by doing deposition preps, medicals, insurance statements, etc. What I did to get those jobs was to get the yellow pages and looked under translation agencies and I introduced myself and told them I was an interpreter and offered my services. I started making $25.00 per appt., then 35.00, 75.00 and so on, of course that was 16 or 17 yrs ago. As soon as I got my certification my income went up exponentially. After I passed the CA State Court interpreter exam I worked in the courts for many years while still working in the private sector. I also passed the Federal court exam and that has opened many doors and not necessarily in the court system. No matter what field you specialized in, a court certification is the only credential that can attest to your ability to interpret. Your skills are tested in the simultaneous, consecutive and sight translation mode. What you do after you pass your test is up to you. You can request to work as an employee of the courts or work as an independent contractor.

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Silvia Webb in Hayward, California

80 months ago

I am a certified short-hand reporter, but have been a stay-at-home mom for about seven years, and I am now considering Spanish interpreting as a possible career option. Do you know if there is a school in the San Francisco Bay Area offering courses to help prepare for the CA exam?

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Gerardo in Riverside, California

80 months ago

if youre a stay at home mom i would also suggest teleinterpreting.com where companies call you to interpret for customer service.

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Gina Gonzalez in Hyde Park, Massachusetts

80 months ago

Hello

I just enrolled in a Bilingual Judicial Interpreter Certificate Program. This program specifically prepares you for the state exam to work in their court system and to be certified. Unfortunately its not in Ma programs here are few and have a curriculum that is very general it gives you the foundation and tools but it is not as intense and as goal specific as this specific program.
In the mean while I have decided to do Freelance interpreting to smaller state and city agencies and within the community....( need the experience and the $$$ I'm looking for some help with ideas for business cards or 1 sided brochures I don't want to say to much and clutter it but not to little so that my experience will not be clearly seen at first glance........any ideas or examples you might want to share are really appreciated

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Alice in Mission Viejo, California

80 months ago

Hello. I have already passed the Written portion of the CA state exam for Medical Interpreting. I am scheduled to take the oral component between late Feb. and early Mar. My question is...Has anyone taken the Oral component for Medical?
The test was not given for about two years so I find it very hard to get this sort of feedback. I know the parts of the exam but I would like to know more about the content.

Sylvia: check out interpreting.com they offer online courses.

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Silvia Webb in Oakland, California

80 months ago

Alice, thank you so much for the tip. An online course will be a lot easier to manage with my children's busy schedule. I also am interested in medical interpreting. Is that different from the Federal Court Interpretation Certification Examination?

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Esther Hermida in Pasadena, California

80 months ago

Hi Silvia,

Congratulations on passing the written exam! I never took the medical exam as a court interpreter is deemed a medical interpreter as well. But just like the court exam, there's an aura of mistery over the exam and there's nothing you can do about it but study your vocabulary review in your mind all the possible situations you find yourself in when interpreting at a medical exam. First, there's the patient's histoy; review that part and all the terms associated with a medical history, I'm sure you can find a list of questions on the net. Next, the kind of medical problem a patient may have and why they are using an interpreter (most likely the insurance company sent you for a QME or an AME. Most of the cases have to do with Worker's Comp, or on the job injuries, so review that area. It may be a PI, personal injury case, so that may be a car accident, etc.
Put yourself in real life situations. If you're already interpreting in medical settings ask for forms that you may take with you, ask the historian to tell you commonly used terms, illnesses, injuries. If you ask around, as you're doing here, you'll find that most people are willing to share.

ACEBO does have a great medical dictionary as mentioned above.
Southern CA School in Int. has wonderful program that may be helpful to you.

Best of luck!

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Gerardo in Riverside, California

80 months ago

Publisher Firefly sells an english-spanish visual dictionary that shows what objects are called in both languages. A must for every interpreter.

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Gerardo in Riverside, California

80 months ago

Publisher Firefly sells an english-spanish visual dictionary that shows what objects are called in both languages. A must for every interpreter.

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Tyler in Salt Lake City, Utah

80 months ago

Gerardo in Riverside, California said: Publisher Firefly sells an english-spanish visual dictionary that shows what objects are called in both languages. A must for every interpreter.

FYI I am WA state certified in Medical Interpreting. I did not take a class and found the tests (including the oral) to be fairly simple and easy. In speaking with the representative from the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services I was able to get some information that many of you may find helpful, maybe not, take what you will from it. Many states do not have a certification program (this is what the Washington State DSHS manager told me, a reputable source) so if your certified and any state than you will be certified also in states that don't have a certification program, but not in states that have their own, so you would need to get recertified in those particular states. As far as I know the majority of the states do NOT have a program, but west coast states generally do, minus Oregon, they all go over into WA to get certified. When you sign up for a test (at least for me) there should be a practice packet that they send you in the mail, I found that the practice material as far as test style and what the test would be, was very accurate. It is not necessary to take a class if you are fluent and can speak simultaneously for two people in the two languages you are interpreting (for me Spanish and English). If that is an issue I would recommend saving your money and still not bothering with a class you have to pay for and just practice, if you are fluent the class isn't going to teach you anything needful other than the practice, and maybe some interpreting rules and guidelines (obvious HIPPA laws and confidentiality, etc...).

That's my two cents, hope it helps, good luck to those of you preparing for tests.

-Tyler

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Edna in Fitchburg, Massachusetts

80 months ago

Host said: How did you get your start doing spanish interpreter work, and what career moves did you make to get to your current position?

Do you need a particular educational background?

First you need to take a test by an institution or a hospital from the state that you live. Then you need at least a 54hr training and your practicum.

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Ms. Kitty in Turlock, California

80 months ago

Yolanda G. Puchner in Los Angeles, California said: Yes, besides being completely bilingual you need to take a course and learn how to interpret. I have a degree in Translation of Modern Languages into Spanish, but that did not make me an interpreter. I had to learn how to interpret and it might take up to 2 years of hard studying to be able to pass the State tests that are harder than the bar tests for attorneys. UCLA and several Cal State colleges teach such classes as well as the wonderful Santa Fe Sp[rings School of Interpretation, of Nestor Wagner's.

Yolanda: I have read your e-mails on this forum. For those wishing to enter this profession, Yolanda has given you good advice. Follow it!! Take this profession seriously & respect those who are already working in it. That is how you gain the respect of the interpreters. The CA interp exam is not easy, but it is not an impossibiliy.

You are right on the button, Yolanda. Many of your colleagues share your thoughts. SB 371 was a huge milestone for many in the california interpreting profession. More power to you & your colleagues. As for "Juan Doe", I'm sorry you were threatened w/ jail time for arriving just a tad bit late & that the working conditions in L.A. for interpreters may not be the best. Interpreters are extremely vital in the court process. I believe your Coordinator could be very instrumental in improving the working conditions in your court or any court. It is not an easy task, but it can be done. The employee interpreters do belong to a very powerful union, one which I know will fight to improve the working conditions & treatment of interpreters in the profession. It will take a while, but I do feel it is going to get better. Not every court treats their interpreters like dirt. Perhaps it is time to find a different court where you will be treated with respect. They do exist. Call other Coordinators. I'm sure you will find a nice one:-)

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Esther Hermida in Pasadena, California

80 months ago

Let's keep politics out of this site, please. Not every interpreter agrees with SB371 (CA). It was good for half the interpreters who wanted to be employees the other 50% disagree with your assessment. But it's done. You get your benefits and your right to strike is preserved.

We, who decided to stay out of full-time employment still enjoy respect and recognition, and still improve our skills everyday working in different segments of the profession, private or public. This is what a certification affords us: To work in the court system where the need is great and enjoy the fringe benefits, or become and independent, self-employed individual, who can have his/her own business and enjoy its benefits.

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Louree in Fort Walton Beach, Florida

80 months ago

I just stumbled upon this forum while searching for information on medical interpreting. I found several entries quite informative. I will be moving to Atlanta, Ga (will be residing in Dallas, GA for now) in two days. Does anyone have any good knowledge or experience in the Georgia area? I found a course offered by the University of Georgia but it is only a few weeks long and not sure if it would be worth it. I would welcome any comments on this matter..... I would also be interested in working in the court/legal fields.

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Gerardo in Riverside, California

80 months ago

Louree, the Southern California School of Interpretation offers on-line distant classes. They are located in Santa Fe Springs, California. I would speak to this school and see if they can help you. Their criminal and medical courses are great.

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Louree in Fort Walton Beach, Florida

80 months ago

Gerardo, Thank you for your response. I will look into their courses and see what they suggest... :)

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Gerardo in Riverside, California

80 months ago

Your welcome, I also suggest you watch spanish newscasts, from Mexico and Spain. I write down whatever word i dont understand and look it up in the dictionary. Here in California, the state exam is based on MEXICANISMOS (Mexican Slang) If you have satellite tv or cable make sure you get these spanish stations. Also check with your local community college to see if they offer communtity interpretating classes. This has become a popular trend with community colleges here in California. Good luck Louree,Oh and yes i recommend taking that class at the University of Georgia, perhaps that professor might know of other classes in the Georgia area.

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Gerardo in Riverside, California

80 months ago

Louree, I went on the Judicial Council of Georgia's website they had some info on how to become an interpreter that you might find helpful. Just enter the keyword Interpreter on their website.

Gerardo.

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