Employment at NATO Headquarters
The NATO Interpretation Service
NATO interpreters are at the forefront of international politics and security. From public diplomacy to political-military topics, from high-level meetings to expert negotiations, working as an interpreter in NATO is of key importance, continually challenging, and rewarding.
The Interpretation Service employs 32 English / French staff interpreters. We also hire freelance interpreters to cover our requirements for meetings at NATO Headquarters in Brussels and off site, allowing us to provide simultaneous conference interpretation for over 2000 meetings per year. NATO interpreters work in a demanding and dynamic international environment. To achieve a consistently high quality of work, freelancers have access to an array of professional resources, including in-house terminology databases and fact sheets.
Freelance interpreters are recruited under daily contracts whose working conditions and remuneration are negotiated with the International Association of Conference Interpreters (AIIC). In the longer term, English/French freelancers may have the opportunity to apply for staff positions when they become available.
The Organization’s two official languages are English and French. NATO is actively seeking additional freelance interpreters to provide bi-active simultaneous interpretation in these two languages. On an exceptional basis, we may also accept applications from candidates without a retour language, i.e. working into only English or only French.
English/French interpreters must have the nationality of a NATO member country, and obtain a security clearance from their national authorities once the application and testing process is complete. Because of the nature of NATO committee work, interpreters are generally recruited at short notice. Interpreters domiciled in Belgium are granted priority in recruitment.
NATO’s activities also require interpretation in languages other than English and French. The language combinations most in demand when hiring freelance interpreters for non-official languages are the following:
- Ukrainian / English
- Arabic / English
- Russian / English
Non-official languages are often used for meetings with partner countries, press conferences, training programs, and missions outside of NATO Headquarters. NATO citizenship is not required for freelance interpreters in non-official languages, and a security clearance may not be necessary in some cases. Preference is granted to interpreters domiciled in Europe.
How do you become a freelance interpreter at NATO?
English/French freelance interpreters with a diploma in conference interpretation or sufficient previous experience may apply to join our pool of interpreters by sending an expression of interest and a résumé to: email@example.com.
Only candidates with native proficiency in one language, and retour in the other, will be considered.
Applications are screened on the basis of submitted résumés. A pre-test may be conducted remotely. Subsequent live interpretation tests take place in person at NATO Headquarters and are organised periodically. They are held in simultaneous mode only, using realistic speech material based on subjects of broad relevance to NATO. The NATO website contains a wealth of information in both official languages which candidates may find useful in their preparation.
For languages other than English and French, freelance interpreters with previous experience may apply to join our pool of interpreters by sending an expression of interest and a resume to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Applications are screened on the basis of submitted résumés and potentially a pre-test, conducted remotely.
NATO interpretation internship
English/French interpretation graduates can apply for a six-month internship at NATO HQ, within Interpretation and Conference Services. Each internship cycle is launched in January/February and announced on the NATO HQ website here: https://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/71157.htm
Please be aware that due to security clearance requirements, the internship will only start the year after submitting an application. You may consider applying before your final masters exam if you already have a bachelor degree.