Translators: Salary, career path, job outlook, education and more
Translators convert written materials from one language into another language. The goal of a translator is to have people read the translation as if it were the original written material. To do that, the translator must be able to write in a way that maintains or duplicates the structure and style of the original text while keeping the ideas and facts of the original material accurate. Translators must properly transmit any cultural references, including slang, and other expressions that do not translate literally.
Translators must read the original language fluently. They usually translate into their native language.
Nearly all translation work is done on a computer, and translators receive and submit most assignments electronically. Translations often go through several revisions before becoming final.
Translation usually is done with computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools, in which a computer database of previously translated sentences or segments (called a “translation memory”) may be used to translate new text. CAT tools allow translators to work more efficiently and consistently. Translators also edit materials translated by computers, or machine translation. This process is called post-editing.
Interpretation and translation services are needed in virtually all subject areas. Although most interpreters and translators specialize in a particular field or industry, many have more than one area of specialization.
The following are examples of types of interpreters and translators:
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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
Careers for Interpreters and Translators
- Community interpreters
- Conference interpreters
- Coordinating interpreters
- Educational interpreters
- Escort interpreters
- Federal court interpreters
- Foreign language interpreters and translators
- Health or medical interpreters and translators
- Healthcare interpreters and translators
- Judiciary interpreters and translators
- Legal or judicial interpreters and translators
- Liaison interpreters
- Liaison or escort interpreters
- Literary interpreters
- Literary translators
- Localization translators
- Medical interpreters and translators
- Mental health interpreters
- Sign language interpreters
- Simultaneous interpreters
- State court interpreters
- Trilingual interpreters