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Freelance Opportunies in Over-the-Phone Interpreting


Knowing another language will allow you to explore freelance opportunities in over-the-phone interpreting. You may apply for work at a company specializing in over-the-phone translation, or open your own small business with your own work hours.

Over-the-phone interpreting allows an individual to call another individual when they do not share a common language. An interpreter listens to each sentence or small paragraph from the caller and then translates it into the language of the individual called. Both parties are aware of the situation and communicate back and forth through the interpreter.

Corporate Providers

Many types of organizations provide over-the-phone language interpretation. Some companies are even built around interpreting services, either for profit or for non-profit community service. Other companies have internal branches dedicated to interpretation services, but have other services to offer. Many of these companies can provide service in over 150 languages and can be used day and night.

The U.S. government uses over-the-phone interpretation for federal court cases, emergency calls and in some hospitals where translation is necessary. This enables accuracy in the courts and saves many lives in the instances where emergency officials cannot communicate with victims and patients (without the aid of an interpreter).

Freelance Providers

Many individuals open up their own small over-the-phone interpretation businesses, advertising online and in local newspapers or magazines. In these cases, the seller will identify which languages are available, their own pricing, and which hours they are open for business. In some cases, some interpretation agencies may contract out to the translator, but the individual freelancers runs primarily based on their own policies may contract out the translator.

The freelancer may even be able to branch out into video conferencing, which would use the same guidelines (but the translation would go through the Internet instead the telephone, allowing the clients to see each other face to face).


Over-the-phone interpreting requires 3 people to be on the line at a time. While three way calling is an option, it is not always practical and can be expensive. Speakerphones can be used, but many companies use a dual handset phone which houses two receivers, one for the speaker and another for the interpreter.

Becoming an Over-the-Phone Interpreter

Though you can open your own at-home over-the-phone interpreting business at any time and manage it yourself, there are many jobs available online.  Search for available jobs on any search engine and apply for them.

Most application processes start with you initially applying. If you are fluent in languages that these companies need for interpreters, they will email you right away and schedule an interview, in which they will ask you to perform translation role-plays. If you are successful in the role-plays, you may be given the job.


While sales calls may not be suitable for over-the-phone translation, there are a lot of services that you can market your business around. International businesses will employ a telephone interpreter when making corporate calls to an executive who speaks a different language. Customers may need you to book hotels or transportation in a country where the language is foreign and needs your assistance in confirming their bookings. People may need your assistance talking to relatives with different native tongues.

Whether your clients are using your services for business or personal reasons, you will need to insure the privacy of the conversation, not only for the clients' sake, but to also protect yourself from any legal suits.

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