Top 10 Things You Should Know

When Scheduling for In-Person Interpreting Services

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Top 10 Things to Know When Securing Interpreter Services

1. Is the interpreter certified?

Know how interpreters are certified. Is the interpreter Agency Certified or State Certified? The difference is significant so make sure you know what you’re getting for your money.

2. What mode of interpreting do you prefer?

Simultaneous or Consecutive ? The skill sets for simultaneous and consecutive are different and not all interpreters have equal capabilities.

3. How many hours or days do you need the services for?

Know the interpreter may not be available beyond specific hours requested. Most are freelance or contract interpreters; usually not by choice and they need to keep their calendars filled. While price points may vary between agencies, we all have access to the same pool of certified and registered interpreters so keep in mind that popular interpreters usually get booked in advance. The best practice is to secure the services with at least two weeks notice.

If you’re unsure how long you need the interpreter services for, it is recommended that you over estimate. Underestimating the number of hours you need may result in the interpreter leaving for another assignment. If you finish early, you will have to pay for the hours you reserved the interpreter for, however, the interpreter will not walk out due to previous commitments and other scheduled assignments.

4. What specific skills sets are necessary for the assignment? 

Interpreting, sight translation, document translation or all three? The answer is in the affirmative if you need the linguist to interpret, read and write. Again, keep in mind that interpreters are not all created equal. These are very distinct skills sets and not everyone can perform in all three areas.

5. What is the nature of the appointment?

Medical (surgery, follow up, QME, AME, etc.), Legal (deposition, attorney visit, trial), insurance?

6. What is the setting?

In court, at the office, hospital, tour, home visit, over the telephone, conference?

7. What is the cancellation policy?

Depending on the certification level and the interpreter, the cancellation policy ranges from 24-48 hours. To avoid paying for services you did not receive, you must notify parties providing services before the agreed upon terms. You may ask why you are charged if the interpreter did not have to appear. The reason is because most linguists are contractors; usually not by choice. They block out time in their day, make arrangements, turn away assignments in anticipation of working for you. When you cancel on them, they lose out on opportunities to accept other assignments.

8. What language?

What specific dialect does your client speak?

9. How much time in advance do you need to schedule for interpreter services?

With as much advance notice as possible. Good interpreters are in high demand and if no local interpreters are available, costs will inevitably go up due to travel time and mileage fees necessary to hire an interpreter from another region of the state.

10. What is a break down total of your costs?

How many hours of work do fees cover? Does it include mileage or travel time?

Once you do find someone, the most frequently asked question is related to cost, and unfortunately there is no simple answer. The responses related to cost will vary greatly from one interpreter to another, even within the same language and with the same interpreter.

There are many factors influencing cost. While the basic unit for billing is a range from a two-hour minimum to a half-day or whole-day minimum per assignment, additional factors including certification level, experience, supply and demand on available language interpreters in a particular region, on the type of appointment or setting, over time, travel time, mileage, lodging and meals.