Interpreters and Translators: Salary, career path, job outlook, education and more

Education Required
A bachelor’s degree is typically needed to become an interpreter or translator along with proficiency in at least two languages, one of which is usually English.
Training Required
Interpreters and translators generally do not need any formal training, as they are expected to be able to interpret and translate before they are hired. However, those working in the community as court or medical interpreters or translators are more likely to complete job-specific training programs or certificates.
Job Outlook
The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026: 17% (Much faster than average)
(The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.)
Advancement
After interpreters and translators have enough experience, they can move up to more difficult assignments, seek certification, and obtain editorial responsibility. They can also manage or start their own business.
Licenses/Certifications
There is currently no universal certification required of interpreters and translators beyond passing the required court interpreting exams offered by most states. However, workers can take a variety of tests that show proficiency. For example, the American Translators Association provides certification in 29 language combinations.
Median pay: How much do Interpreters and Translators make?
$46,120 Annual Salary
$22.17 per hour

Interpreters and translators convert information from one language into another language. Interpreters work in spoken or sign language; translators work in written language.

What do Interpreters and Translators do?

Interpreters and translators typically do the following:

  • Convert concepts in the source language to equivalent concepts in the target language
  • Compile information and technical terms into glossaries and terminology databases to be used in their oral renditions and translations
  • Speak, read, and write fluently in at least two languages, one of which is usually English
  • Relay the style and tone of the original language
  • Render spoken messages accurately, quickly, and clearly
  • Apply their cultural knowledge to render an accurate and meaningful interpretation or translation of the original message

Interpreters and translators aid communication by converting messages or text from one language into another language. Although some people do both, interpreting and translating are different professions: interpreters work with spoken communication, and translators work with written communication.

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