Interpreters and translators are two very different jobs that the BLS groups together into a single category. Interpreters translate one spoken language into another. Sign language interpreters convert spoken language into sign language. Translators work with written language, converting written copy from one language to another. Interpreter and translator jobs can be found in health, business, tourist, judiciary, advertising, and publishing industries. Some general job responsibilities of interpreters and translators include:
- Translating words, concepts, and colloquialisms in a source language to a target language
- Speaking, reading, and writing fluently in English and one or more languages
- Conveying style, tone, and expression
- Rendering either spoken or written translation accurately and clearly
The need for interpreters and translators is increasing as the U.S. population grows more diverse and international. Communications technology such as video relay services has expanded the number job opportunities for sign language interpreters. International trade and a growing global economy is also contributing to job growth in this category.Read More
Job Growth for
Interpreter and Translator
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Becoming an Interpreter and Translator
There are no formal degree requirement for interpreters or translators. However, employers are likely to favor candidates with a bachelor's degree in a language or translation studies. Most importantly, interpreters must be fluent in English and at least one other language. Interpreters and translators will typically need specialized training related to their job's particular industry. Interpreter and translator jobs in the health or medical industry will demand a different set of skills than for instance jobs in the courts and other legal settings.
The University of Arizona's Spanish and Portuguese Department and Mexican American and Raza Studies Department offers an on-campus bachelor's degree in translation and interpretation with a focus on legal and health care fields. Valdosta State University offers an on-campus or online bachelor's of science in education degree in American Sign Language interpreting. A sampling of classes taken from UA's program include:
- Translation and Interpretation: Social Justice and Practice
- Medical and Business Translation
- Beginning Simultaneous Interpretation
- Beginning Consecutive Interpretation
Degree programs in sign language will include classes in deaf education and language learning and deaf community, culture, and history.
No standard license or certification is required for jobs in interpreting and translating. However, obtaining specialized certification will show potential employers that you are fluent and proficient in your particular field. The American Translators Association provides certification for its members in 24 languages combined with English. The Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters offers certification for interpreters in the healthcare industry. The Federal courts provide certification for Spanish, Navajo, and Haitian Creole interpreters, while many states and municipal courts offer their own forms of certification as well.