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Japanese Interpreter Training Program and Course Information

Individuals wanting to become Japanese interpreters may train through bachelor's and master's degree programs. Some are general programs in reading, writing and speaking, while others focus 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. Entry-level candidates to the program need a high school diploma or equivalent and familiarity with Japanese is ideal.

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. Some of the required courses may be available online. Many programs require the completion of a capstone project, proficiency in Japanese, field experience, oral or written exams, theses, or workshops.


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.

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 $44,190 in May 2015. The BLS also noted employment opportunities for interpreters and translators are expected to increase by 29% from 2014 to 2024, 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.

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.

A bachelor's or master's degree with a focus on Japanese language and interpretation can open up a variety of careers to graduates, including foreign correspondence, travel writing, or the very fast-growing field of translation.

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