Why We Love Our Freelance Interpreters and Think You Will Too

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In the language services industry, interpretation companies work with two kinds of interpreters: staff interpreters or freelance interpreters. Most interpreting companies work with both. 

At CLI, our model is based on working primarily with  professional interpreters who are remote independent contractors, and we wouldn’t change it for a thing. Why? Here are a few reasons.

They are flexible

Need an Oromo interpreter on short notice? Or what about a Mara interpreter on Christmas Day? Chances are, there could be one available. 

Unlike staff interpreters, remote freelance interpreters set their own schedules and work when it’s best for them. That means they answer calls at 8 a.m., 6 p.m., and even 3 a.m. And we’re not just talking about commonly spoken languages, like Spanish. Interpretation companies that contract with remote freelance interpreters ensure there is enough coverage for all languages 24/7/365.

Related: See How Easy It Is to Get a Telephone Interpreter

They speak the language you need

How many languages would you guess are spoken in U.S. homes? 100? 150? 

At last count in 2015, that number was around 350

As impressive as that number is, the majority of interpreting requests in the U.S. come from a small handful of those 350 languages. This is why you likely won’t see a Serbian interpreter employed full time in a hospital in rural Idaho, for example. There isn’t enough need for the language in that area to justify a position. 

Enter freelance interpreters.

A freelance telephone or video interpreter who speaks a less commonly requested language can live in a small town in Kansas, yet interpret for individuals who live in Chicago, Milwaukee, or Tucson. This is a win-win-win for limited English proficient (LEP) individuals, interpreters, and organizations. Organizations can engage with their LEP customers in the language their customers speak without worrying if an interpreter lives nearby, LEP individuals get access to qualified interpreters, and interpreters can live close to family or in a climate of their choosing without worrying about employment. 

They are ready for anything

Most of the time, freelance remote interpreters don’t know what kind of scenario awaits them when they answer a call. It could be an emergency, a routine doctor’s appointment, or a question about a utility bill. That’s why they need to be ready for anything.

And this doesn’t start and stop with the speakers’ dialogue. There are several factors outside the realm of their language and interpreting skill set for which remote interpreters need to be prepared. 

Telephone interpreters, according to certified Spanish interpreter Nataly Kelly in International Medical Interpreters Association (IMIA)’s A Medical Interpreter’s Guide to Telephone Interpreting, “must be able to diplomatically manage external barriers to the communication, such as poor sound quality, interference on the line, distracting noises, sounds in the background of either party’s environment, along with many other unique situations encountered in telephone interpreting work.”

Related: How to Prepare for a Remote Interpreting Session (Like an Expert)

Qualified telephone and video interpreters

Since 1996, CLI has contracted with some of the best freelance interpreters around. And with over 230 languages available 24/7/365, we know what it takes to make sure you can always connect with your customers. Our interpreters are ready to help you communicate — in languages from Acehnese to Zulu and everything in between.

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