Chartered Institute
of Linguists

‘Could I become an interpreter because I speak more than one language?’, ‘Could I perhaps become a translator too?’

By Hiba Bayyat

These questions may seem absurd to established linguists, but are often asked by many bilingual and multilingual individuals seeking to invest in their language skills with no prior industry knowledge.

Do you recall the initial steps taken in your career as a professional interpreter and/or translator? How easy or how difficult was it for you? Did you feel that the information you required at the critical phases in your self-development or career progression was easily accessible? Was it sufficient? Was the support adequate and consistent? How about now?

Let us be realistic. We all started somewhere. Some have had easier journeys than others, and some continue to have pleasant experiences, whilst others struggle. How can we share this knowledge? Who with? Would our experiences benefit other linguists?

Our profession is a lonely one.  Despite meeting different people through the various and versatile assignments, the relationships we form are very formal in nature, and we are constantly bound by our ethical conduct.

As a linguist I bear witness to the ongoing challenges, which seem to grow greater as we head further north. These include, but are not limited to the significant scarcity of information available to future professional interpreters and translators as well as existing ones. This is exacerbated by the shortage of training events, and the lack of networking opportunities.

As a freelance interpreter and translator, living and working in the North East of England, I can confirm that the North East region is in desperate need of the aforementioned services, which presently seem to be a luxury predominantly afforded to the south. While some linguists are able to attend workshops and seminars in London for instance, the majority have neither the time, nor the means as a consequence of personal or financial circumstances. What may seem like a short drive and a few hours at an event to someone local, may mean to someone less fortunate (purely because they live up north), travel and accommodation arrangements, time off work, childcare, and all the expenses incurred in the process.

Ultimately, continuous professional development and networking are essential in any field, and form an integral part of our profession. Such fundamental practices aim to raise awareness, improve skills, build relationships, offer support, safeguard linguists and their clients, and maintain physical and mental wellbeing.

Moving forward, it is my belief that a CIOL network is urgently needed in the North East to address these shortfalls, and turn what seems to be a far-fetched dream into a reality. Bringing linguists together to indulge in their passion for language and to encourage future generations of budding professionals.


The author: Hiba Bayyat ACIL DPSI (Arabic MSA-English Law) | RPSI
Interpreter & Translator

My own journey as a linguist began soon after acquiring the DPSI in Law qualification through the Chartered Institute of Linguists in 2017. I have since been providing linguistic services to a variety of public bodies and private establishments. These include the Ministry of Justice, the Home Office, Police, NHS, solicitors, refugee services, charities and schools. Throughout my career, I have nurtured a diverse skillset and acquired a global wealth of industry spanning some 17 years in challenging roles across the Middle East, Spain, and the United Kingdom.