Interpreters work for many government bodies and services. They may find a career or temporary work with presidential offices, ministries, parliaments, courts, the armed services and, increasingly, with many other government services at local level.


Governments employ both staff and freelance interpreters. Presidential offices and ministries of foreign affairs, for example, will always have some staff interpreters on hand covering the major groups of world languages.

They are generally bilingual and work either at their home ministries or travel with the minister and delegations.

Obviously these interpreters must meet high professional standards, linguistically and ethically. They serve the 'diplomatic corps'.

Freelances will be employed if there are not enough staff interpreters for given languages.

National parliaments

National parliaments may also employ staff and freelance interpreters. The bilingual Canadian Parliament, for example, is a major employer.

National courts of law

National courts of law employ interpreters temporarily for specific cases, but rarely staff interpreters. They help to ensure that justice and the human rights of defendants are upheld.

National armed services

National armed services require interpreters, particularly when they are deployed abroad. Some will be members of the forces. Mostly, however, they will be employed temporarily as freelances, often locally, and are not usually professional interpreters. This is a dangerous area of work.

Government services

All kinds of government services are increasingly calling on interpreters to help them in their relations with community groups who may not speak or understand the national language well (such as immigrants).

These are generally freelance interpreters, called community interpreters who may not be professional interpreters. They have a great role to play in smoothing out cultural obstacles to communication as well as the linguistic ones.

Community interpreters work in hospitals, for administrative departments etc. according to need.

Recommended citation format:
AIIC. "Government". November 28, 2011. Accessed July 12, 2020. <>.