Escort Interpreters

USIA uses the services of the Office of Language Services of the United States Department of State to provide English language escorts and escort/interpreters to accompany International Visitor participants. The Office of Language Services maintains a contract roster of some 1,000 freelance escort and seminar interpreters, covering almost every major language. These interpreters are hired to take short-term travel assignments (usually 22 days at a time) for programs under the International Visitor Program and other users as the need arises.

Escort-Interpreters accompany foreign individuals and delegations travelling around the United States and interpret for them in professional exchanges on a wide variety of subjects as well as in less formal situations. The mode of interpretation is usually consecutive, i.e. the interpreter takes notes as a person is speaking and interprets from those notes at regular intervals during the speech.

Becoming an Interpreter

Escort interpreting offers potential freelance employment, especially for people just entering the interpretation field. It should ordinarily not be viewed as a permanent career or as a sole means of livelihood, however; while the work is extremely interesting and educational and can be most rewarding as a contribution to international understanding, many people tire of the frequent travel involved and of the sporadic nature and uncertainty of work assignments. While the pay is not high, the unique nature of the work makes it attractive for people who can afford to dedicate short periods of time to the program.

Those interested in working as escort-interpreters can apply directly to the Department of State's Office of Language Services. Applicants must meet the following qualifications:

  • Fluent, Active Command of English and at Least One Other Language

  • General Suitability, Adaptability and Availability

  • Residence and Citizenship

    Application Process

    A completed written application is required. The application should be requested from the Office of Language Services directly (address/phone/fax numbers listed below). An attached resume is optional. References and academic records are not necessary.

    Please submit the application via regular mail or fax to:

    All information should be typed or printed. Should you wish to request a complete packet which includes additional information about vocational opportunities for linguists, please telephone (202) 647-3492. Please allow at least two weeks for mailing.

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