Do conference interpreters make more than medical interpreters?

I find it interesting to follow the interpreting field in general, not just the ASL-English interpreting field, and the other day I saw a surprising post on a blog I follow called The Professional Interpreter: Many medical interpreters are missing out on a prestigious and profitable field. The author, Tony Rosado, a Spanish-English interpreter, says that most medical interpreters do not venture from interpreting medical jobs to interpret medical conferences. I don’t think of conference interpreting as more prestigious and profitable than interpreting in medical settings, but things may be very different between signed-spoken and spoken-spoken language interpreters.

Qualified interpreter means an interpreter who … is able to interpret effectively, accurately, and impartially, both receptively and expressively, using any necessary specialized vocabulary.

According to the article, until recently there were no standards for medical interpreting. It is important to note, though, that the author is not talking about interpreting between deaf and non-deaf people; he is talking about interpreting for people who do not share the same spoken language. Interpreters for deaf people are provided as an accommodation mandated by the Americans with Disabilities Act and previous laws such as PL 94-142 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Such mandates create a demand for quality; in fact, Title III of the ADA sets the legal definition:

Qualified interpreter means an interpreter who, via a video remote interpreting (VRI) service or an on-site appearance, is able to interpret effectively, accurately, and impartially, both receptively and expressively, using any necessary specialized vocabulary. Qualified interpreters include, for example, sign language interpreters, oral transliterators, and cued-language transliterators.

I am interested in hearing from interpreters of all language pairs to see what you think about conference interpreting as opposed to medical interpreting. In your experience, have you found conference interpreting to be more profitable than medical interpreting? Do you find that your colleagues and/or consumers respect you more for doing conference interpreting than medical interpreting? Personally, I find both equally rewarding, both personally and financially. It can be stimulating and glamorous to interpret for someone charismatic while facing a large audience, yet it is challenging and rewarding to interpret for a doctor and patient in a private room. I like both settings, and feel respected in both settings. What do you like?

Slideshow presentation on Demand-Control Schema (D-CS)

I created this slideshow on Demand-Control Schema (D-CS) for an Introduction to Interpreting class at Phoenix College in Phoenix, Arizona, and am sharing it here for the benefit of a larger audience. This slideshow is an update on one I made for another class at Phoenix College in 2005, the day after I attended a workshop by Robyn Dean, who along with Dr. Robert Pollard introduced the Demand-Control Schema for Interpreting in 2000. I sent the original version of this slideshow to Robyn Dean when I first created it, and she acknowledged it with no corrections. I have since then taken a more advanced D-CS workshop by Robyn Dean and a workshop by Dean & Pollard at the Conference of Interpreter Trainers. Robyn Dean also spoke to our Ethics and Professional Practice class in Western Oregon University’s Master of Arts in Interpreting Studies program. Our professor and program chair Amanda Smith studied D-CS under Robyn Dean and taught us D-CS observation/supervision; in addition, members of my cohort interpret with Robyn Dean at the Rochester Institute of Technology and work with her on D-CS observation/supervision sessions. This is to say I am somewhat qualified to teach D-CS; yet I certainly welcome new and different information. If you teach D-CS and have anything to say or other resources to share, please leave a comment.


I have read some of the resources listed on Dean & Pollard’s D-CS website, and I highly recommend you avail yourself of their materials, especially their forthcoming textbook.


Looking forward to meeting people at my poster session at CIT

I recorded this video as a response to a researcher and interpreter trainer I met at the last Conference of Interpreter Trainers, but I’m posting it here because it applies to anyone who attends the conference next week in Charlotte, NC. I welcome everyone to come by my poster, ask me anything, challenge my research, give me feedback, etc. I will have about a month to make adjustments to my thesis before I defend at the end of November, so your feedback on my thesis-in-progress is most welcome!