Career Detail


Interpreter and Translator
Interpreters and translators enable the cross-cultural communication necessary in today's society by converting one language into another.
The Job
Interpreters and translators are often discussed together because they share some common traits. For example, both must be fluent in at least two languages-a native, or active, language and a secondary, or passive, language; a small number of interpreters and translators are fluent in two or more passive languages.
Work Environment
Interpreters work in a variety of settings, such as hospitals, courtrooms, and conference centers.
College Majors
bachelor's degree
Minimum Qualifications
Interpreters and translators must be fluent in at least two languages. Their educational backgrounds may vary widely, but most have a bachelor's degree. Many also complete job-specific training programs.
Personality traits helpful for this career
Experience is an essential part of a successful career in either interpreting or translation.
Quick Facts
  • About 22 percent of interpreters and translators are self-employed.
  • Work is often sporadic, and many of these workers are part time.
  • In addition to needing fluency in at least two languages, many interpreters and translators need a bachelor's degree. Many also complete job-specific training programs.
  • Job outlook varies by specialty.
Compensation and Outlook
Wage and salary interpreters and translators had median annual wages of $38,850 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $28,940 and $52,240. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $22,170, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $69,190. Individuals classified as language specialists in the Federal Government earned an average of $79,865 annually in March 2009.
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