What Do Japanese Interpreters Do?

Interpreters are those who are fluent in two or more languages and who can interpret one language into the other in spoken form. They differ slightly from translators, whose output in the target language is in the form of writing.
Interpretation is more than simply a matter of converting words from one language into the other; thoughts and expressions that can be conveyed understandably in one language must be conveyed so that they are equally understandable in the target language. The interpreter must also express the tone and style of the original speaker. Cultural differences between the U.S. and Japan make Japanese interpreting a challenge when it comes to tone, style, and idiomatic expressions.
Professional interpreting services are needed in many settings. Japanese interpretation services are most likely to be requested in parts of the U.S. with significant numbers of people emigrating from Japan, in workplaces with several temporary workers from Japan, workplaces that do business with Japanese colleagues, in government offices that have dealings with the Japanese government, in international non-governmental organizations such as disaster relief organizations, and in the military.
One of the commonly requested interpreter services is simultaneous interpreting. This is when the interpreter interprets the words of a live speaker in real time. Simultaneous interpreting is integral to multilingual conferences, inwpuding those that take place as part of international governmental procedures. The United Nations needs simultaneous translators to conduct its procedures, for example, and teleconferences in which one or more speakers speak Japanese and others do not could not be conducted without simultaneous interpreters.
Simultaneous interpreters must generally be familiar with the subject matter they will be interpreting. They must also be able to concentrate deeply in order to speak while the original speaker is speaking. An alternate method of interpreting in consecutive interpreting, in which the interpret listens to blocks of speech, takes notes and then provides the interpretation in the target language.
Court interpreting services are also needed in many parts of the United States. This professional interpreting service is also known as judicial or legal interpreting. Interpreters work in the courtroom and other legal settings providing interpretation services for those involved in judicial arraignments, depositions, hearings, and trials. Court interpreters often have to read documents in a language other than English, and it’s essential for them to be familiar with legal terms and proceedings. Immigration courts have a frequent need for interpreters.
Interpreters also work in medical settings, in schools, in real estate offices (where they may, for example, be called upon to help a real estate agent sell a home to someone who does not speak English), and other community settings. Escort interpreters travel with a person who needs a lot of interpreting done and travels frequently.
How to Become a Japanese Interpreter
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the single most important qualification for Japanese interpreters is that they speak both Japanese and one or more other languages. Most people who work as professional interpreters have at least a bachelor’s degree, although a degree is not strictly required in order to find work as an interpreter.
To prepare for a career as a Japanese interpreter, a high school student might take a variety of courses in English and computers as well as Japanese. If possible, the student should spend some time in Japan and volunteer with people who speak the language. Those wishing to work as interpreters who choose to go on to college might major in the Japanese language, or they might choose an area of specialization within interpretation, such as law or medicine, and choose a major that trains them in this specialty.
Licensing and certification are not typically required for careers in interpreting, although certification through the American Translators Association or the International Association of Conference Translators may help one to demonstrate proficiency. Those who wish to interpret for the U.S. Department of State will be given a test in conference interpreting, one in court interpreting, and one in escort interpreting, and high scores on these tests also demonstrate a high level of proficiency.

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