What Is Required of a UN Interpreter? – Akorbi

A row of headphones and microphones for translation during a meeting
What it takes To Be An Interpreter For The UN

If you’re a gifted linguist and you’re wondering what kind of professional avenue to pursue, you might consider becoming an interpreter. There are many different places you can work as an interpreter, but perhaps the most exciting is the United Nations. The job of an interpreter is usually fast-paced, high stakes, and demanding – this is especially true if you’re working for the United Nations. It’s also exciting work!

If you’re looking for a career that keeps you on your toes, this might just be the job for you. We’ve detailed some of the requirements of a UN interpreter so you can decide if this sounds like something you might want to pursue!

You Must Be a Native Speaker of an Official UN Language

This is of the utmost importance. In order to even be considered for the position, you’re required to be a native speaker in either English, French, Russian, Arabic, or Chinese. Unfortunately, if one of these is not your native language you won’t have much luck finding a position within the UN.

Now, it is important that we clarify that you must truly be a native speaker of one of these languages – not just proficient. This is because as your native language – also known as your A language – this will be the language you work the most in. It is important that you are fully fluent in this language. There are very few people who can truly claim to have more than one native language.

You Must Have Command of At Least One Other Official Language

In addition to being a native speaker of one of the official UN languages, you must have command of at least one other. Having a command of a language means more than understanding the words that are spoken. So much of language is wrapped of in cultural context and as an interpreter you have to be able to interpret culture as well as words. You also need to be able to adapt to a variety of accents. This is why the language requirements for this kind of position are so rigorous. A lot is riding on your correct interpretation of accent, culture, and the words spoken.

You Must Have A Wide Range of Knowledge

As an interpreter for the UN, you need to have a wide range of knowledge. This means you’ll need to have a good understanding of current events, politics, economics, UN processes, etc. You’ll also be required to know the technical terms within all of these fields to ensure that your interpretation is as accurate as possible.

Become An Interpreter for Akorbi

If you’re not sure you’re ready for being an interpreter for the United Nations but you are a gifted linguist, you should consider applying to work for Akorbi. Our interpreters are native speakers of the language they work with so they have a full understanding of both the language and the culture. So contact us today to find out more about Akorbi!