Career Detail

Interpreter and Translator
Interpreters convert one spoken language into another. Translators convert written materials from one language into another. They must have excellent writing and analytical ability.
The Job
Interpreters and translators enable the cross-cultural communication necessary in today's society by converting one language into another. However, these language specialists do more than simply translate words-they relay concepts and ideas between languages. Interpreters and translators both must be fluent in at least two languages-a native, or active, language and a secondary, or passive, language. The services of interpreters and translators are needed in a number of subject areas such as Conference interpreters,Guide or escort interpreters,Judiciary interpreters and translators, Medical, and sign language. Self-employed and freelance interpreters and translators need general business skills to successfully manage their finances and careers.
Work Environment
A variety of settings, such as hospitals, courtrooms, and conference centers. They are required to travel to the site.
College Majors
varies greatly
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
Must be fluent in two languages. Good verbal and written communication skills. People person.
Quick Facts
  • About 22 percent of interpreters and translators are self-employed.
  • Work is often sporadic, and many of these workers are part time.
  • More info: American Translators Association, 225 Reinekers Ln., Suite 590, Alexandria, VA 22314.
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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