Careers in Translation & Interpreting

Those interested in a career in translation or interpreting need fluency in at least two languages. Read on to discover a few examples of careers that will allow you to utilize your language skills in a variety of settings.

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Career Options for Translation & Interpreting

Translation and interpreting positions can involve working from home or be found in places like hospitals or community agencies, among other locations. Translation involves working with written materials, while interpreting involves working with spoken words. The job descriptions and outlooks for several career options in these fields are highlighted below.

Job Title Median Salary (2016)* Job Growth (2014-2024)*
Community Interpreter $42,630 (All Healthcare & Social Assistance Interpreters & Translators) 29% (All Interpreters & Translators)
Court Interpreter $50,880 (All Government Interpreters & Translators) 29% (Interpreters & Translators)
Conference Interpreter $52,060 (All Professional, Scientific & Technical Services Interpreters & Translators) 29% (All Interpreters & Translators)
Book Translator $52,060 (All Professional, Scientific & Technical Services Interpreters & Translators) 29% (All Interpreters & Translators)
Hospital Interpreter $42,630 (All Healthcare & Social Assistance Interpreters & Translators) 29% (All Interpreters & Translators)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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  • Comparative Literature
  • Language Translation
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Career Information for Translation & Interpreting

Community Interpreter

As a community interpreter, you must be fluent in English and another language and will likely need a bachelor's degree. Your role will be to serve as the communication link between community members who do not speak English and service professionals. This career involves working in a variety of environments, such as hospitals, schools, and community and social service centers. Job responsibilities include ensuring both parties understand your role as an interpreter, correctly communicating the speaker's intent, and maintaining impartiality by not engaging in personal communication or acting as an advocate.

Court Interpreter

A court interpreter is utilized during court proceedings to translate oral speech. This usually occurs when non-English speaking witnesses are summoned to testify. As a court interpreter, you will accurately convey witnesses' testimony and may have to read aloud written documentation in the witnesses' native language. Court interpreters can work in municipal, state, or federal government court systems and may also be asked to assist the prosecutor's office or police department. This career typically requires a bachelor's degree, often in translation studies, and a strong grasp of the legal system. Some states require a court interpreting exam, while those working within the federal court system can obtain judiciary certification in Spanish, Navajo, and Haitian Creole.

Conference Interpreter

A conference interpreter specializes in providing interpreting services for events such as meetings, business negotiations, or television broadcasts. You will work for companies, often those in international business or diplomacy, that deal with non-English speaking people. As a conference interpreter, you will typically provide interpretation while someone is speaking, known as simultaneous interpretation, which requires interpreters to convey what is said while listening to the next part of the speech. You will need fluency in English and another language, and a bachelor's degree is a common requirement for employment. You can pursue membership through the International Association of Conference Interpreters if interested.

Book Translator

As a book translator, you will work in a variety of fields, either from home or at a translation company. This career requires fluency in English and another language. You specialize in taking written material, like books and journal articles, from one language into another. An important job function is to maintain the integrity of the author's words, such as attitude or style. Book translators may collaborate with authors to ensure they are properly conveying the original work. Translators utilize computer software programs that contain databases of previously translated work. This career typically requires a bachelor's degree.

Hospital Interpreter

A hospital interpreter serves as the communication liaison between healthcare providers and non-English speaking patients and their families. Hospital interpreters work in a variety of healthcare settings, including hospitals or smaller medical facilities, though many perform their work remotely by communicating over the phone or video chat. You will need a strong grasp of medical terminology, and certification in a medical field could be beneficial. Hospital interpreters must be understanding of patients' situations and maintain confidentiality. You likely need a bachelor's degree to work as a translator and can pursue certification through the Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters.

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