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What Do Interpreters and Translators Do?

Occupation Description Interpret oral or sign language, or translate written text from one language into another.

A Day in the Life of an Interpreter or Translator

  • Compile information on content and context of information to be translated and on intended audience.
  • Refer to reference materials, such as dictionaries, lexicons, encyclopedias, and computerized terminology banks, as needed to ensure translation accuracy.
  • Adapt software and accompanying technical documents to another language and culture.
  • Identify and resolve conflicts related to the meanings of words, concepts, practices, or behaviors.
  • Discuss translation requirements with clients and determine any fees to be charged for services provided.
  • Follow ethical codes that protect the confidentiality of information.

What an Interpreter or Translator Should Know

When polled, Interpreters and Translators say the following skills are most frequently used in their jobs:

Active Listening: Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

Speaking: Talking to others to convey information effectively.

Reading Comprehension: Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

Writing: Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.

Critical Thinking: Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Other Interpreter or Translator Job Titles

  • Spanish Interpreter
  • Hourly Sign Language Interpreter
  • Staff Interpreter
  • Diplomatic Interpreter
  • Official Court Interpreter

Interpreter or Translator Employment Estimates

In 2016, there was an estimated number of 68,200 jobs in the United States for Interpreters and Translators.

New jobs are being produced at a rate of 17.7% which is lower than average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 12,100 new jobs for Interpreters and Translators by 2026. The BLS estimates 7,800 yearly job openings in this field per year.

Forecasted Number of Jobs for Interpreters and Translators in U.S.

The states with the most job growth for Interpreters and Translators are California, Texas, and Colorado.

Watch out if you plan on working in Wyoming, Montana, or Delaware. These states have the worst job growth for this type of profession.

Interpreter or Translator Salary

Interpreters and Translators Make between $27,230 and $90,610 a year. The median salary is $49,930.

Salary Ranges for Interpreters and Translators

How much do Interpreters and Translators make in different U.S. states?

Annual Mean Salary by State
State Annual Mean Salary

District of Columbia

$93,730

New Jersey

$74,750

Virginia

$70,770

Maryland

$70,530

Colorado

$70,050

New York

$68,940

Maine

$63,210

Missouri

$62,610

North Carolina

$59,310

New Mexico

$58,700

Texas

$58,650

Ohio

$58,380

California

$58,180

Georgia

$55,670

Massachusetts

$55,600

Delaware

$53,860

Alaska

$52,990

Minnesota

$52,730

Nevada

$52,150

Mississippi

$52,110

Wisconsin

$50,750

Rhode Island

$50,380

Pennsylvania

$50,100

Oregon

$50,090

New Hampshire

$49,970

Kentucky

$49,690

Florida

$49,300

Wyoming

$48,750

Washington

$48,560

Connecticut

$47,560

Illinois

$46,320

Vermont

$46,270

Arizona

$46,100

Hawaii

$45,580

South Carolina

$44,950

Utah

$43,830

Nebraska

$43,760

Tennessee

$43,550

Indiana

$41,700

Michigan

$41,450

Alabama

$40,510

Louisiana

$40,440

Kansas

$40,190

West Virginia

$38,590

Montana

$37,910

Iowa

$37,840

South Dakota

$37,650

Idaho

$37,650

North Dakota

$35,250

Oklahoma

$35,240

Arkansas

$34,260

What Tools & Technology do Interpreters and Translators Use?

Although they’re not necessarily needed for all jobs, the following technologies are used by many Interpreters and Translators:

  • Microsoft Outlook
  • Microsoft Access
  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Office
  • Hypertext markup language HTML

How to Become an Interpreter or Translator

Education needed to be an Interpreter or Translator:

Interpreter or Translator Degree Level

How Long Does it Take to Become Interpreter or Translator?

Interpreter or Translator Work Experience

Where Interpreters and Translators Work

Interpreter or Translator Sectors

References

Bureau of Labor Statistics

College Factual

O*NET Online

Image Credit: Via Wikimedia Commons

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