An interpreter works to break down the language barrier for their clients. In the classic sense, an interpreter facilitates communication between two people by translating the statements of each person into the other person's language. For example, if an English speaker and a Mandarin Chinese speaker need to conduct business with each other, and neither knows the other's language, an interpreter would listen to the English speaker's statements and repeat them in Mandarin; conversely, the interpreter would listen to the Mandarin speaker's statements and repeat them in English.
However, in today's world, the role of an interpreter has expanded beyond the classic role. An interpreter is often employed to help individuals fill out government forms that are in a different language than the individual speaks or writes. Increasingly, interpreters also work as translators of technical material for companies to help bridge the gap between two or more development teams. Further, interpreters may act as cultural experts for the benefit of clients, educating the client on customs and norms for a target market; importantly, the interpreter may educate the client on what actions and statements are considered taboo in the target location.
Most interpreters are native speakers of the target language and/or have a bachelor's degree or higher (in addition to fluency) in the target language. The schedules for interpreters must generally be flexible since a client may call in at any hour of the day due to an urgent issue or differences in time zones.
Explain and clarify cultural expectations and idiom.
Translate written documents or audio tapes to and from target language and English.
Convey spoken content accurately from one language to another.
Assist with documentation, filing and paperwork.