Interpreters and Translators made a median salary of $49,930 in 2018. The best-paid 10 percent made $90,610 that year, while the lowest paid 10 percent made $27,230.
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Interpreters and translators convert written materials or spoken words into another language whether it is oral or written language of a particular community or country; or even through sign language where a person uses visual gestures to convert information.
Interpreting and translating are two different processes but have the similar goal. Interpreting is the process of converting a language verbally, while translating is the process of converting the written text to another written language.
Most people interchange interpreting and translating because of the following similarities:
What are the differences between interpreting and translating?
Sign Language Interpreter
A sign language interpreter is someone who is trained to help individuals who are deaf or a hearing impaired person by converting spoken language into sign language.
The role of interpreters and translators are important in the business world. They enhance the communication between two businesses or people who are using different languages through by accurately converting the information from one language to another.
Some important services the translators and interpreters can provide in the global businesses
Medical interpreters focus on the verbal communication, they serve as liaison between the patients and hospital management or doctors. They must know medical terms and have the ability to interpret the information to both parties (patient and hospital management or doctors).
Medical translators are trained to translate written documents to paperwork. They must also have strong knowledge with the technical and medical terms and ensure that all of the information is correctly written in the paperwork.
Conference interpreters are often the mediators that you find in multilingual meetings. They play an important role in global politics and international businesses. They translate the message of the speaker in another language so that their client or listener can fully understand the message. They interpret the message of the speaker either simultaneously, through whispering, through phone, or consecutively.
Localization is not the same as translation especially when it comes to marketing. For a product to be globally competitive, you must tailor your marketing strategy in each country or community for you to increase engagement and increase your chance to make sales.
In localization, you will provide different content in your market for people who are using a different language, taking into consideration their beliefs, culture, and laws. You are customizing your message to overcome the language barriers so that they will understand your original message.
These are specialized business interpreters and translators who have a great knowledge of a particular business such as marketing, engineering, finance, economics, etc. They understand the terminology used and able to interpret those accurately to a target audience.
Sign Language Interpreter Duties
A sign language interpreter is responsible for an individual with hearing problems to accurately understand the message from the source who us using spoken languages. This type service is needed in different settings such as government offices, law offices, court rooms, schools, hospitals, and other government agencies.
Sign language interpreters usually have distinct personalities. They are kind, caring, patient, friendly, empathetic, artistic, articulate, and expressive. The role of interpreters and translators require some particular attributes as well. These are:
You have an amazing language skill
Although it sounds obvious, but successful interpreters and translators have strong grasp of the language they interpret for. They speak and write so well that they are sometimes better than a native speaker. They can interpret and translate words instantly without needing to refer to a dictionary or any translation resources.
You have high stress tolerance
Interpreting and translating are stressful activities. The speed of the speaker’s delivery or highfalutin or ambiguous words has a huge influence to the level of stress interpreters and translators are experiencing. If a person has high stress tolerance, he/she can remain calm and more focused in converting languages to another, thus, having less or no mistakes.
You have integrity
The core of what interpreters and translators do is linguistic integrity. This means that as much as possible, nothing is added, altered, or omitted to the source language whether spoken or written. You are able to deliver the main thought of the source of information. Also, you are committed to impartiality and confidentiality. You comply with the federal or state laws and the required rules of your association or organization.
You are reliable
You are reliable in terms of you are consistently good in the quality of your performance. Your clients trust that you are honest with your service and that your translations or interpretations are accurate.
Interpreters and translators usually need a bachelor’s degree but the most important requirement is that one should be fluent in at least two (2) languages. However, if you want to pursue a career and succeed in either of these two fields, then you should consider taking the following steps.
1. Earn a bachelor’s degree
A bachelor’s degree is necessary for an interpreter and translator to become certified and have a chance to work within the government. Although having a major in a foreign language or specific area such as business is not necessary but you have the option to earn a degree in the language or specific area of your choice. The most important thing is that you should be fluent to at least two (2) languages (one of those is English), and learn the culture, law, and other important matter of the language that your are studying.
2. Attend formal trainings
Some schools offer their students who want to be interpreters or translators formal trainings. They also offer certificates to those successful students who are able to complete the formal training.
3. Get certified
Some certifications are not mandatory, but still quite beneficial for aspiring interpreters and translators. The Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters and American Translators Association (ATA) provide certification or exams and also the association or organizations listed below:
4. Enroll to online courses.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, interpreters and translators are projected to grow 19 percent from 2018 to 2028. It only proves that the demand for these careers is higher.
Be equipped and even earn certificates by enrolling to online classes. Some online courses are cheap and some are also free. Skill Success offers a wide range of in demand languages for interpreter and translator courses [Top Online Courses for Aspiring Interpreter and Translator].
Becoming an American Sign Language (ASL) Interpreter
This is a language expressed by hand movements, body language and other expressions. It is a natural language that has the same components or properties of a spoken American language and is widely used by the deaf community in the U.S.
According to a research from National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorder (NIDCD), 30 million Americans age 12 and older has hearing loss in both ears, leading ASL study to myriad careers.
Some ASL interpreters learn sign language in an informal way such as learning from a family member or friend that is deaf or with hearing loss.
Also, you can become an ASL interpreter by gaining formal education—which is in high demand. Typically, proficiency in English and a bachelor’s degree is required, but you can also opt for an associated degree or taking a certificate program as long as it is accredited an accredited program.
There are two (2) degree programs an aspiring ASL interpreter can take:
1. American Sign Language- English Interpretation
This degree helps students develop the foundation skills in sign language and helps students to prepare for a professional career as an ASL interpreter
2. American Sign Language – Deaf Culture Track
This program helps students to explore the fundamentals aspect of ASL and deaf culture. It is more in-depth than the American Sign Language- English Interpretation, thus, it is a perfect program for someone who plans to work with a deaf individual or community.
Now that we have distinguished the difference between an interpreter and a translator, let’s list the different set of skills for these two careers.
Interpreters should have the following skills and knowledge:
Extremely good listening skills
Interpreters should exercise their listening skills of the language that they will interpret. They must listen carefully so that they will pick up every word being said and its meaning, making sure that the important details are not missed. This is because they simultaneously constructing and articulating the message that they will interpret to another language.
Exceptional memory skills
Interpreters are innate with a powerful memory. They have the ability to retain what they have heard and then analyze and process what they have heard and put the information into context
They should be aware of their target’s culture, values, traditions, customs, law or policies, and religion to have a perfect understanding on how they will deliver the message appropriately and effectively without disrespecting the target’s culture or character.
This includes clear and precise delivery of the message from the source to the target. It involves the correct usage of words and the correct pronunciation as well.
Translators should have the following skills and knowledge:
Translating is the process of converting a written text to another written language. Thus, a translator should have an excellent writing skill. If you want to be a good interpreter, you should be excellent with grammar, the correct spelling of words, and has the ability to write using different styles.
Reading and comprehension skills
You should be fluent in your own native language and your target language so that you fully understand the meaning of the source text. Because of this, you can avoid misinterpreting the source of the text and you can deliver the message accurately.
Attention to details
A translator is able to proofread and edit his own work detecting typos effortlessly. Since translating is a comprehensive task even small details such as punctuation and formatting is important in the role of a translator.
You can learn foreign language on your own or enroll to colleges or universities that offer foreign language program. Here is a list of translation and interpretation schools, foreign language schools, and American sign language (ASL) interpreting schools.
List of translation and interpretation schools and Foreign language schools
American Sign Language (ASL) Interpreting Schools
Interpreters and translators work in different kinds of settings such as schools, courtrooms, conference centers, hospitals, government organizations, private clients, and many more. Having that said, you won’t have difficulties in finding a job; you just need to do thorough research.
Ways to Find a Job in Interpreting and Translating
Although there are machines and applications that helps translate a language to another, because those can translate words instantly, professional translators and interpreters are still in demand, because the capabilities of those machines and apps are limited—those can only read words and translate based on algorithms or dictionaries, and sometimes human intervention is still needed as they sometimes need to edit the output to ensure that there is no error.
There are many kinds of career for interpreters and translators, such as:
According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, interpreters and translators held about 76,100 jobs in 2018 and a projected employment of 90,700 in 2028.
Here are some ways to find jobs in interpreting and translating.
Search for job openings online
The easiest and fastest way of finding job openings is through online job postings. You can find job postings in job search websites and also in social media groups. Here are some:
Informal or volunteer work
This is an excellent way for individuals who want to gain experience and for those who are seeking a career opportunity in interpreting and translating. Informal or volunteer opportunities are available through hospitals, schools, community organizations, churches, international competitions, and so on. As you gain experience through volunteering, it will be easier to you to find a job in industries such as being a courtroom interpreter or medical interpreter and at the same time, you are building and establishing a network of contacts.
Geographic areas often have location pay differentials, making a huge impact on your potential earnings. There are some states that offer a higher salary and some with lower salary to interpreters and translators.
Here’s a list of the average mean of annual earnings of interpreters and translators in every state according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Employment Statistics dated 2018:
|State||2018 Mean Annual Wage|
|State||2018 Mean Annual Wage|
Report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics
Submitting resumes for candidates applying for job had been easy over the past few years because they can just submit it online. However, it also increased the number of applications a recruiter is receiving every day, making it a bit challenging for some to get noticed by the recruiter. Here are some tips on how your resume will get noticed.
Keep your resume brief.
You do not to make your resume long so that you can impress the recruiter. Your resume should be a one- or two-page long, anything longer than that could only lose your chance from getting noticed. Recruiters need to go through hundreds if resumes almost every single day. Be concise and know what are your selling pints to position you are applying for.
A tip here is to review the job qualifications and responsibilities of the potential employer, and tailor your resume based on the qualification and responsibilities.
Highlight your languages and specializations
Place this at the top or near the introduction of your resume. This will help the recruiter save time in reading what the languages you know.
Emphasize your certifications
You can place your hard-earned certification close to your languages and specializations. This will help your resume stand out because it shows that you are suitable for the position, especially when your certification is relevant to a jobs responsibility.
Add a unique feature in your resume.
You can send a short video introduction of yourself and showoff the languages you know to let them have an idea of how you speak. If you are a translator, you can send two (or more) versions of your resume, one in English and the other version is in another language. This will make you a more outstanding applicant.
“I believe luck is preparation meeting opportunity. If you hadn’t been prepared when the opportunity came along, you wouldn’t have been lucky.”― Oprah Winfrey
If you come in an interview prepared, chances are, you will get hired. That is why you need to know how to answers the questions to your interview specifically about the interpreter or translator job. Here are the common questions.
Lastly, prepare a list of questions to ask the recruiter during the job interview. Remember that you are also looking for a company that you will work for in a long period of time and it is important to know if the company you are applying for is a good fit for you as well.
Sharpen your skills in interpreting and translating by taking these top online courses
Skills Success has carefully curated and organized thousands of online video courses. Start your journey to becoming an interpreter and translator with these top online courses.