Where Do Interpreters Work?
The majority of professional full-time conference interpreters work for international organizations like the United Nations, the European Union, or the African Union. See the Career opportunities with DG Interpretation in European Union's institutions. The world's largest employer of interpreters is currently the European Commission, which employs hundreds of staff and freelance interpreters working into the official languages of the European Union. The European Union's other institutions (the European Parliament and the European Court of Justice) have smaller interpreting services.
The United Nations employs interpreters at almost all its sites throughout the world. Because it has only six official languages, however, it is a smaller employer than the European Union. Interpreters may also work as freelance operators in their local, regional and national communities, or may take on contract work under an interpreting business or service. They would typically take on work as described above. The U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan employ hundreds of interpreters to assist with its communications with the local population.
In simultaneous interpretation (SI), the interpreter renders the message in the target-language as quickly as he or she can formulate it from the source language, while the source-language speaker continuously speaks; sitting in a sound-proof booth, the SI interpreter speaks into a microphone, while clearly seeing and hearing the source-language speaker via earphones. The simultaneous interpretation is rendered to the target-language listeners via their earphones. Moreover, SI is the common mode used by sign language interpreters. NOTE: Laymen often incorrectly describe SI and the SI interpreter as 'simultaneous translation' and as the 'simultaneous translator', ignoring the definite distinction between interpretation and translation.