A business depends on getting its message to the right people. If your business needs to communicate in a foreign language, make sure you are sending the message correctly. Hiring a certified professional interpreter is essential when you are working with, or for, someone who speaks a foreign language.

What is a certified professional interpreter?

A certified professional interpreter is someone who has passed a certification process for interpreting. It is important to note that there is not one standardized certification process for professional interpreters. Certification varies from state to state, and among industries. Not all language pairs even offer certification.

The US Federal Court Certified Interpreter Program offers a certification program for the legal industry. They offer certification in only three language: Spanish, Navajo and Haitian-Creole. The National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters (National Board) offers an examination for interpreters who work in the medical industry. The National Board offers certification in: Spanish, Russian, Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean and Vietnamese.

I have bilingual employees, do I still need a certified professional interpreter?

In a word, yes. Hiring bilingual employees can provide your business with many advantages in understanding your multicultural clients, but simply knowing two languages does not make a person qualified, or even a particularly good, interpreter.

Interpreting a foreign language requires more than simply language fluency, additional skills are needed. There are two main types of interpretation: consecutive and simultaneous interpretation.

Consecutive interpretation is when the interpreter interprets after a speaker has finished speaking, or during pauses in a conversation. This is the easier type of interpretation.

Simultaneous interpretation is when an interpreter interprets while someone is talking. This is much more difficult, and it requires skills most bilingual people have not perfected.

Besides having to learn additional interpretation skills, an interpreter needs to know the industry well. Without a background in the industry, key vocabulary and concepts can present a problem for interpretation.

I can’t speak my client’s language, but he can speak English.

If you can’t understand everything which is spoken during a business meeting, you are at a disadvantage. Even when a client speaks to you in English, if others at the meeting are speaking a foreign language, are you really getting all the information you need?

Hiring a professional interpreter will make sure you understand everything. An unbiased interpreter will tell you exactly what is being said, without filtering the information. Your business should never depend on what a client’s interpreter chooses to say to you.

A professional certified interpreter is essential to help your business succeed in today’s multilingual world.