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Salary and Career Information for a Government Translator

Sep 18, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a government translator. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about schooling, job duties and training to find out if this is the career for you.

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Fluency in a second language is obviously a must for a career as a government translator, along with a bachelor's degree. Computer proficiency and superior editing and writing skills are instrumental to success in this growing field. Translators who specialize in high-demand or complex languages will have access to more opportunities.

Essential Information

A government translator deciphers and analyzes documents in one language and converts them into another language. To work in this field, aspiring government translators must earn a bachelor's degree. Computer proficiency and communication skills are also necessary. Earning a master's degree in translation is an option for career advancement. Government translators may work for local or federal government agencies.

Required Education Bachelor's
Other Requirements Fluency in a second language; work experience; on-the-job training
Certification Voluntary
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028) 19% (for all interpreters and translators)*
Median Salary (2018) $49,930 annually (for all interpreters and translators)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Government Translator Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), interpreters and translators employed by the federal government earned a mean annual wage of $82,950 in May 2018 (www.bls.gov). In the same year, the mean wage for all interpreters and translators was $55,230 annually. Local Government, excluding schools and hospitals employed just 0.04% of interpreters and translators in the U.S. in 2018.

Government Translator Career Information

Government translators may work in federal or local facilities, but many choose to work from home. They deal with text documents, journals and books on a daily basis, transcribing information from one language to another. Many translators are usually freelance employees, working alone and under strict deadlines. Along with a bachelor's degree in at least one language, this career requires exceptional writing, editing and critical thinking skills. Computer proficiency is also necessary to a career in translation, because most documents are received, transcribed and submitted electronically.

Interpreters and translators are expected to benefit from a 19% employment increase from 2018-2028, according to the BLS. Job growth will be spurred by a growing population of foreign language-speaking citizens and an increase in international trade. Translators will find the highest employment rates in urban regions where immigration population is highest. Applicants specializing in more complex, less commonly studied languages or in high-demand languages, such as French, Italian, German, Japanese, Arabic, Chinese and especially Spanish, will enjoy greater career opportunities and generally higher pay. Translators can increase their chances of employment by earning certification through groups such as the American Translator Association (www.atanet.org) or the U.S. District Court (www.uscourts.gov).

No matter what language you work in, it's a good idea to enjoy working independently, as many translators do. This is a growing field where advanced education and certifications can help set you apart from other applicants. Your chosen language will have a significant effect on your job prospects and potential earnings, with both less common and high-demand languages offering the best opportunities.

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