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Interpreter or Translator

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What Does it Take to Be an Interpreter or Translator?

Job Description & Duties Interpret oral or sign language, or translate written text from one language into another.

Life As an Interpreter or Translator: What Do They Do?

  • Adapt software and accompanying technical documents to another language and culture.
  • Refer to reference materials, such as dictionaries, lexicons, encyclopedias, and computerized terminology banks, as needed to ensure translation accuracy.
  • Adapt translations to students’ cognitive and grade levels, collaborating with educational team members as necessary.
  • Check translations of technical terms and terminology to ensure that they are accurate and remain consistent throughout translation revisions.
  • Travel with or guide tourists who speak another language.
  • Proofread, edit, and revise translated materials.

What an Interpreter or Translator Should Know

Interpreters and Translators state the following job skills are important in their day-to-day work.

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.

Monitoring: Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.

  • Sign Language Interpreter
  • American Sign Language ASL/English Interpreter
  • Audio Narrator
  • Diplomatic Interpreter
  • Educational Interpreter

What Kind of Interpreter or Translator Job Opportunities Are There?

In the United States, there were 68,200 jobs for Interpreter or Translator in 2016. New jobs are being produced at a rate of 17.7% which is above the national average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 12,100 new jobs for Interpreter or Translator by 2026. Due to new job openings and attrition, there will be an average of 7,800 job openings in this field each year.

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

The states with the most job growth for Interpreter or Translator are Colorado, Utah, and Idaho. Watch out if you plan on working in Wyoming, Montana, or Delaware. These states have the worst job growth for this type of profession.

Average Interpreters and Translators Salary

Interpreters and Translators make between $27,230 and $90,610 a year.

Salary Ranges for Interpreters and Translators

Interpreters and Translators who work in District of Columbia, Maryland, or Virginia, make the highest salaries.

How much do Interpreters and Translators make in each U.S. state?

State Annual Mean Salary
Alabama $40,510
Alaska $52,990
Arizona $46,100
Arkansas $34,260
California $58,180
Colorado $70,050
Connecticut $47,560
Delaware $53,860
District of Columbia $93,730
Florida $49,300
Georgia $55,670
Hawaii $45,580
Idaho $37,650
Illinois $46,320
Indiana $41,700
Iowa $37,840
Kansas $40,190
Kentucky $49,690
Louisiana $40,440
Maine $63,210
Maryland $70,530
Massachusetts $55,600
Michigan $41,450
Minnesota $52,730
Mississippi $52,110
Missouri $62,610
Montana $37,910
Nebraska $43,760
Nevada $52,150
New Hampshire $49,970
New Jersey $74,750
New Mexico $58,700
New York $68,940
North Carolina $59,310
North Dakota $35,250
Ohio $58,380
Oklahoma $35,240
Oregon $50,090
Pennsylvania $50,100
Rhode Island $50,380
South Carolina $44,950
South Dakota $37,650
Tennessee $43,550
Texas $58,650
Utah $43,830
Vermont $46,270
Virginia $70,770
Washington $48,560
West Virginia $38,590
Wisconsin $50,750
Wyoming $48,750

Tools & Technologies Used by Interpreters and Translators

Below is a list of the types of tools and technologies that Interpreters and Translators may use on a daily basis:

  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Office
  • Hypertext markup language HTML
  • Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Microsoft Outlook
  • Web browser software
  • Microsoft Access
  • Extensible HyperText Markup Language XHTML
  • Voice over internet protocol VoiP system software

How do I Become an Interpreter or Translator?

What kind of Interpreter or Translator requirements are there?

Interpreter or Translator Degree Level

How Long Does it Take to Become an Interpreter or Translator?

Interpreter or Translator Work Experience

Interpreters and Translators Sector

Interpreter or Translator Sectors

The table below shows some of the most common industries where those employed in this career field work.

Interpreter or Translator Industries


Image Credit: Susana Freixeiro via Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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