Japanese Interpreter Training Program and Course Information

Individuals who wish to become interpreters of the Japanese language may train for this career through bachelor's and master's degree programs in Japanese. Some programs are general programs in the reading, writing and speaking of the language, while others concentrate on professional interpretation and translation.

Essential Information

A four-year bachelor's program includes general education coursework with an emphasis on developing solid conversational and written Japanese language skills. Japanese language proficiency is critical in this program, and students may have to complete prerequisite courses or pass a test in Japanese to enter major studies. Most master's programs require a bachelor's degree in a related field and proficiency in the language, along with English language fluency for native speakers. Master's degree students pursue advanced studies such as simultaneous interpretation and Japanese literature. They may be required to study for a time in Japan, and complete a final project or thesis.

  • Program Levels in Japanese: Bachelor's degrees, master's degrees.
  • Prerequisites: Entry-level candidates to the program need a high school diploma or equivalent; familiarity with the Japanese language is ideal.
  • Field of Study Options: Typically Japanese with an interpretation/translation concentration; sometimes interpretation/translation with a Japanese concentration.
  • Other Requirements: Many programs require the completion of a capstone project, proficiency in Japanese, field experience, oral or written exams, theses, and workshops.
  • Online Availability: Some courses may be available online.

Bachelor's Degree in Japanese

A bachelor's degree in Japanese trains students to use Japanese for all types of communication, including speaking, reading and writing. Students are expected to develop language proficiency upon program completion. Individuals who concentrate on Japanese interpretation may gain interpersonal skills in oral communication, as well as scientific, cultural and technical communication techniques. Students need a high school diploma or equivalent, and depending on the program and school, applicants may have to complete prerequisite coursework.

Program coursework may include Japanese language skills, linguistics, culture and literature. A capstone or senior project is typically required. Students may choose from a variety of elective coursework, which may include several courses in interpretation. Course topics may include:

  • Community interpreting in Japanese
  • Japanese conversation
  • Reading, grammar, and phonetics in Japanese
  • Advanced Japanese conversation and composition

Master's Degree in Japanese

A master's degree program in Japanese can prepare students for a career in a number of fields, including government, arts and communication. Students learn advanced interpretation techniques and practices. These programs may require a capstone project, oral and written exam, a research project or a master's thesis. Programs may be available in translation and interpretation with a Japanese focus.

Some programs may require students who speak Japanese as a secondary language to have a bachelor's degree in Japanese or a related field. Native speakers of Japanese may possess a bachelor's degree in any field. Students may have to demonstrate acceptable proficiency level in the Japanese language before they're accepted into the program.

To demonstrate mastery of the Japanese language, students may be required to interpret and translate program curricula. Also, students may have to complete a workshop in interpretation. Other coursework may include:

  • Japanese linguistics
  • Japanese cultural studies analysis
  • Topics in Japanese literature, language, and culture
  • Simultaneous interpretation
  • Interpretation into English

Popular Career Options

With a bachelor's degree in Japanese, students may work in a number of areas, including journalism and government. Potential career opportunities include:

  • Interpreter
  • Translator
  • Foreign correspondent
  • Travel writer

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for translators and interpreters was $43,590 in May 2014 (www.bls.gov). The BLS also noted employment opportunities for interpreters and translators are expected to increase by 46% from 2012-2022, due to the large number of non-English speaking people in the United States. Acquiring experience is an important part of becoming an interpreter, and it may begin with volunteer or informal work.

Continuing Education Information

Graduates may pursue certification as a translator to further advance their training. The American Translators Association may require individuals to have at least two years working experience as an interpreter or translator (www.atanet.org).

Students with a master's degree program in Japanese may want to consider pursuing a doctoral program. Options can include a Ph.D. program in Japanese language and linguistics with or without a concentration in literature.

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