The Language Professions


Profile of the profession

Translation consists in rendering a text written in one language into another language and conveying the message as faithfully as possible. Translators generally translate from their second or third language, into their mother tongue.

Aptitudes of translators

Translators are, by nature, intellectually curious, skilled at transferring ideas from one language to another, highly professional and possess broad general knowledge. They must have good interpersonal skills and an adaptable nature, in addition to strong writing skills.

Working conditions

Salaried translators work for national or international organizations, private firms or agencies. Although many of them specialize, most are generalists. Translators in private practice are increasing in number (an estimated 44% of all translators are independent contractors). They must perform the functions of translator and reviser and develop their own sources of terminological support.

Advances in information technologies have created new tools that have radically changed the way both free-lance and salaried translators work.


For a long time, being bilingual was all that was required to become a translator. These days, translation requires university training and constant learning throughout one’s career. Translation provides daily challenges and enrichment.

Seven Quebec universities offer translation programs recognized by OTTIAQ:

  • Concordia University
  • Université de Montréal
  • Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières
  • Université du Québec en Outaouais
  • Université Laval
  • McGill University
  • Université de Sherbooke

Certified Translator: A reserved title

Only OTTIAQ members in good standing can practise under the title of Certified Translator (C. Tr.) in Quebec. Certified Translators have skills recognized by the Order, which makes them professionals. For more information on the responsibilities of OTTIAQ members, see the section on Protecting the Public


Profile of the profession

Terminologists establish the terms specific to a field of activity, define them, and then find equivalents in another language. They also define the terms in use for businesses, databases, glossaries, dictionaries and lexicons for the purposes of standardization.

Aptitudes of terminologists

Terminologists are skilled in information technologies, demonstrate attention to detail and enjoy conducting in-depth research. They also have a lively intellectual curiosity and an aptitude for synthesizing information.

Owing to their experience and professional relations with specialists, terminologists often play an advisory role in the management of projects in their own fields.

Working conditions

Two categories of terminologists can be distinguished by the manner in which they exercise their profession: as employees or independent contractors. In response to the new needs created by the closure of many corporate language departments, the latter group is growing.

The work of terminologists is extremely varied. They are required to work with writers, researchers and specialists, and are often called upon for quality control. They must be autonomous, well-acquainted with available documentation, and able to develop a network of resource persons.


Terminology is taught at several Quebec universities as part of graduate or undergraduate translation programs. There are currently no university programs specializing solely in terminology.

Certified Terminologist: A reserved title

Only OTTIAQ members in good standing can practise under the title of Certified Terminologist (C. Term.) in Quebec. Certified Terminologists have skills recognized by the Order, which makes them professionals. For more information on the responsibilities of OTTIAQ members, see the section on Protecting the Public.


Profile of the professions

Conference interpreters orally restate a message received in one language in another language during speeches, meetings, conferences and debates, remaining true to the original content more than to its form. In addition to possessing all-round knowledge, interpreters must always prepare specifically for a conference, though this preparation will vary according to subject field. There are two main conference interpretation techniques: consecutive and simultaneous.

Court interpreters are specialists in oral communication who offer interpretation services in courts of justice or administrative tribunals. They provide both consecutive interpretation and simultaneous interpretation. The former, the classic mode of interpretation, offers two-way communication, for example, when a witness is being cross-examined. Simultaneous interpretation makes use of wireless electronic equipment to offer ongoing, real-time translation. This method is used for one-way communication, like when it is necessary to translate the entire proceedings.

Aptitudes of interpreters

Interpreters need good concentration, an excellent memory, a pleasant speaking voice, good diction and both mental and physical stamina. They must also be flexible and tactful. Interpretation requires a strong attention to detail and nuance, a varied personal culture and broad general knowledge.

Conference interpreters must be willing to travel because their work often takes them out of the country.

Working conditions

Independent conference interpreters are recruited as a team, with three interpreters for a normal working day at a bilingual conference, two when fewer than four hours’ work is scheduled, and more for additional sessions or languages. For simultaneous interpretation, soundproof booths are used, from which the interpreters have a direct view of the speakers. Technical facilities are normally supplied by a specialized equipment company, whose sound technicians work closely with the interpreters.

Independent interpreters have an irregular work schedule, with slack periods and busy seasons. For this reason, clients should reserve as far in advance as possible. Free-lance interpreters work on the basis of individual contracts with conference organizers and are hired and remunerated on a daily basis. Travel expenses are paid in addition to the fee, where applicable.

Court interpreters usually work alone, but for lengthy proceedings, two interpreters will share the work, relieving each other at regular intervals. In the case of interpreters working in other than one of the official languages, work often continues outside the courtroom as they accompany lawyers or even investigators and other official representatives to one-on-one meetings with an accused or a witness, either in a cubicle, at the probation field office or elsewhere.

In the case of an expert witness, court interpreters will request an advance copy of the report supporting the witness’ testimony so they can conduct the necessary terminological research and obtain explanations.

Working as independent contractors, court interpreters have an irregular and often unpredictable work schedule since court proceedings are subject to judicial demands that can change unexpectedly, depending on the way the case is unfolding . While the provincial Justice Department has its own official interpretation department, municipal courts usually call on the services of specialized agencies. In both cases, interpreters work free-lance and are hired for sessions lasting a half-day or whole day, in accordance with conditions set forth in a contract with the agency or judicial body involved.


Conference interpretation is taught at the master’s level at the University of Ottawa.

At the present time, no Quebec university offers a program of study devoted solely to court interpretation. However, both types of interpretation are taught in various specialized schools and universities around the world. The Order recognizes these studies according to equivalency, following study of each case.

Certified Interpreter: A reserved title

Only OTTIAQ members in good standing can practise under the title of Certified Interpreter (C. Int.) in Quebec. Certified Interpreters have skills recognized by the Order, which makes them professionals. For more information on the responsibilities of OTTIAQ members, see the section on Protecting the Public.

MXO | agence totale