What Does An Interpreter and Translator Do (including Their Typical Day at Work)

Stan T.Career, Overview

Salary, Job Description, How To Become One, and Quiz

Interpreters and Translators

Interpreters and Translators interpret oral or sign language, or translate written text from one language into another.

Salary
$58140
Becoming One
Hard
Education
Bachelor's degree
Job Satisfaction
Job Growth

Personality
Interest Match





Find a job you love and you will never work a day in your life.Confucius

What they do

Interpreters and Translators interpret oral or sign language, or translate written text from one language into another.

  • Follow ethical codes that protect the confidentiality of information.
  • Translate messages simultaneously or consecutively into specified languages, orally or by using hand signs, maintaining message content, context, and style as much as possible.
  • Listen to speakers’ statements to determine meanings and to prepare translations, using electronic listening systems as necessary.
  • Compile terminology and information to be used in translations, including technical terms such as those for legal or medical material.

Typical day

On a daily basis, Interpreters and Translators translate messages simultaneously or consecutively into specified languages, orally or by using hand signs, maintaining message content, context, and style as much as possible. They follow ethical codes that protect the confidentiality of information.

  • Listen to speakers’ statements to determine meanings and to prepare translations, using electronic listening systems as necessary.
  • Refer to reference materials, such as dictionaries, lexicons, encyclopedias, and computerized terminology banks, as needed to ensure translation accuracy.
  • Discuss translation requirements with clients and determine any fees to be charged for services provided.
  • Compile information on content and context of information to be translated and on the intended audience.
  • Identify and resolve conflicts related to the meanings of words, concepts, practices, or behaviors.

Other responsibilities

Besides their typical day, Interpreters and Translators also compile terminology and information to be used in translations, including technical terms such as those for legal or medical material. They may also check original texts or confer with authors to ensure that translations retain the content, meaning, and feeling of the original material.

On a weekly to monthly basis, Interpreters and Translators educate students, parents, staff, and teachers about the roles and functions of educational interpreters. They might also adapt software and accompanying technical documents to another language and culture.

In addition, they refer to reference materials, such as dictionaries, lexicons, encyclopedias, and computerized terminology banks, as needed to ensure translation accuracy.

Although specific duties may vary, many of them proofread, edit, and revise translated materials.

To some Interpreters and Translators, it is also their responsibility to check translations of technical terms and terminology to ensure that they are accurate and remain consistent throughout translation revisions.

Freedom to make decisions

How much decision making freedom does this job offer?

No freedom
0%

Very little freedom
4%

Limited freedom
31%

Some freedom
27%

A lot of freedom
37%

Structured vs unstructured work

To what extent is this job structured for you versus allowing you to determine your own tasks, priorities, and goals?

No freedom
9%

Very little freedom
0%

Limited freedom
29%

Some freedom
21%

A lot of freedom
41%


Featured Schools


What is the job like

Job satisfaction

High

Is this job meaningful

Very High

72% said they were satisfied with their job and 76% said they found their job meaningful.


I got into translation work last spring, almost a year now, because of the pandemic. I’ve worked in marketing for a long time, although it was largely in the events business. So I switched my services over to help a different demographic, and now translate locally into and from Spanish and English. A normal interpreting … Read More


I deal with the English–Japanese language pair. The greatest challenge in my translation work from Japanese to English is figuring out what they’re “really saying” and then putting it in a variety of ways depending on the intended audience. Japanese famously relies on inference and subtle suggestion rather than going straight to the point. English … Read More


Pros

Suitable for people who like to work with designs.

Suitable for people who value relationships between co-workers and customers and want to work in a friendly non-competitive environment.

This career is perfect for people who love to work indoors.

One of the fastest-growing careers.

Cons

Not suitable for people who like practical and hands-on work.

Salary is below average.

It is hard to get into this career. A considerable amount of work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is required for this career.

How much do they make

Average salary

$58140 per year

Average hourly wage

$28 per hour

Entry-level Interpreters and Translators with little to no experience can expect to make anywhere between $29,740 to $38,410 per year or $14 to $18 per hour.

Salary by experience Annual Hourly
Highest (Top 10%) $96,480 $46
Senior (Top 25%) $72,630 $35
Median $52,330 $25
Junior (Bottom 25%) $38,410 $18
No experience (Bottom 10%) $29,740 $14

This table shows the top 10 highest paying industries for Interpreters and Translators based on their average annual salary.

Salary by industry Annual Hourly
Federal Executive Branch $87410 $42.03
Computer Systems Design and Related Services $77010 $37.03
Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools $71460 $34.36
Junior Colleges $69480 $33.40
Psychiatric and Substance Abuse Hospitals $67980 $32.68
Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services $64720 $31.11
Employment Services $64670 $31.09
Management of Companies and Enterprises $64000 $30.77
Newspaper, Periodical, Book, and Directory Publishers $63150 $30.36
Other Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services $63070 $30.32

View more salary by industries here.

Where can they work

Where can Interpreters and Translators work? Here is a table showing the top 10 largest employers of Interpreters and Translators including the average salary in that industry.

Employers Total Employed Annual Salary Hourly Wages
Other Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services 23300 $63070 $30.32
Elementary and Secondary Schools 8970 $49480 $23.79
General Medical and Surgical Hospitals 5540 $55160 $26.52
Local Government 2280 $56850 $27.33
Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools 1950 $71460 $34.36
Junior Colleges 1520 $69480 $33.40
Individual and Family Services 1490 $49560 $23.83
State Government 1460 $60360 $29.02
Offices of Physicians 1140 $43930 $21.12
Outpatient Care Centers 720 $49450 $23.78

What is the work day like

Working hours

Less than 40 hours
56%

40 hours
35%

More than 40 hours
8%

Working schedule

59%

41%

0%

Work with group or team

How important is it to work with others in a group or team in this job?

Not important at all
9%

Fairly important
11%

Important
9%

Very important
24%

Extremely important
47%

Deal with external customers

How important is it to work with customers in this job?

Not important at all
49%

Fairly important
0%

Important
2%

Very important
1%

Extremely important
49%

Manage or lead others

How important is it to coordinate or lead others in completing work activities in this job?

Not important at all
34%

Fairly important
29%

Important
5%

Very important
10%

Extremely important
22%

Email

How often do you use email in this job?

Once a week
33%

Every day
47%

Telephone

How often do you have telephone conversations in this job?

Once a week
33%

Every day
48%

Group discussions

How often do you have group discussions in this job?

Once a week
26%

Every day
51%

Public speaking

How often does this job require you to do public speaking?

Never
45%

Once a year
26%

Once a month
0%

Once a week
9%

Every day
20%

Frequency of conflict situations

How often are there conflict situations in this job?

Never
15%

Once a year
27%

Once a month
40%

Once a week
8%

Every day
10%

Dealing with angry people

How often do you have to deal with angry, unpleasant, or discourteous individuals in this job?

Never
6%

Once a year
27%

Once a month
27%

Once a week
34%

Every day
6%

Dealing with physically aggressive people

How often do you have to deal with physically aggressive people in this job?

Never
59%

Once a year
36%

Once a month
0%

Once a week
0%

Every day
5%

Level of competition

How much competitive pressure is in this job?

Not competitive at all
19%

Slightly competitive
9%

Moderately competitive
29%

Highly competitive
27%

Extremely competitive
16%

Repetition in this job

How important is repeating the same type of task over and over in this job?

Not important at all
40%

Fairly important
0%

Important
20%

Very Important
10%

Extremely Important
31%

Impact of decisions on co-workers or company results

What results do your decisions usually have on other people or the reputation or financial resources of your employer?

No impact
15%

Minor impact
0%

Moderate impact
15%

Important impact
34%

Very important impact
36%

Frequency of decision making

How frequently do you have to make decisions that affect other people, the financial resources, and/or the reputation of the company?

Never
14%

Once a year
2%

Once a month
12%

Once a week
23%

Every day
50%

Responsibility for others’ health and safety

How much responsibility is there for the health and safety of others in this job?

No responsibility
20%

Limited responsibility
41%

Moderate responsibility
28%

High responsibility
0%

Very high responsibility
12%

Responsibility for outcomes and results

How much responsibility is there for the work outcomes and results of other workers?

No responsibility
43%

Limited responsibility
26%

Moderate responsibility
19%

High responsibility
1%

Very high responsibility
12%

What is the work environment like

Office-style environment

Indoors in an environmentally controlled condition

Never
24%

Once a year or more
5%

Once a month or more
0%

Once a week or more
0%

Every day
71%

Warehouse-style environment

Indoors in a non-controlled environmental condition such as a warehouse

Never
73%

Once a year or more
24%

Once a month or more
4%

Once a week or more
0%

Every day
0%

Outdoors

Outdoors exposed to all weather conditions

Never
58%

Once a year or more
39%

Once a month or more
4%

Once a week or more
0%

Every day
0%

Outdoors – Under Cover

Outdoors but under cover (e.g. structure with roof but no walls)

Never
62%

Once a year or more
34%

Once a month or more
4%

Once a week or more
0%

Every day
0%

How to become one

Difficulty to become one

Hard
You will need a considerable amount of work-related skill, knowledge, or experience. Careers in this difficulty category usually require a Bachelor’s degree and several years of work-related experience, on-the-job training, and/or vocational training. Similar careers include Database Administrators, Chemists, Art Directors, and Accountants.

Required level of education

What level of education do you need to perform the job?

Less than a High School Diploma
0%

High School Diploma or equivalent
1%

Post-Secondary Certificate
1%

Some College Courses
0%

Associate’s Degree or similar
11%

Bachelor’s Degree
52%

Post-Baccalaureate Certificate
0%

Master’s Degree
26%

Post-Master’s Certificate
9%

First Professional Degree
0%

Doctoral Degree
0%

Post-Doctoral Training
0%

Relevant majors

History and Language/Literature

A program with a general synthesis of history and the language and literature of one or more countries or regions or a specialization which draws from history and the language and literature of one or more countries or regions. Includes instruction in historiography; historical research methods; linguistics; literature, philology; and studies of specific periods, issues and cultures.

Economics and Foreign Language/Literature

A program with a general synthesis of economics and the language and literature of one or more countries or regions or a specialization which draws from economics and the language and literature of one or more countries or regions. Includes instruction in comparative economic systems, econometrics, economic theory, money and banking systems, international economics, international trade, linguistics, philology, and translation.

Court Interpreter

A program of study that prepares individuals to provide accurate translation and interpretation between two or more languages for parties involved in a legal proceeding. Includes instruction in courtroom standards and procedures, court interpreting, legal terminology, consecutive interpretation, simultaneous interpretation, and sight translation.


American Sign Language (ASL)

A program that focuses on American Sign Language as a visual and motor medium of communication and discourse for deaf individuals and deaf culture. Includes instruction in the development of ASL, ASL morphology and syntax, signing technique, English translation of ASL, formal and colloquial ASL, and ASL transcription.

Linguistics of ASL and Other Sign Languages

A program that focuses on the scientific and scholarly study of the development, structure, and use of American Sign Language (ASL) and other visual signed languages, both as vehicles for communication within the deaf community and in relation to spoken and written languages. Includes instruction in cognitive linguistics; ASL and sign language phonology, syntax, and morphology; sociolinguistics of the deaf community; comparative linguistics; and studies of specific sign languages, including, but not limited to, ASL, Auslan (Australian Sign Language), LSF (French Sign Language), Shuwa jiten (Japanese Sign Language), HamNoSys (German Sign Language), and Gestuno.

Hungarian/Magyar Language and Literature

A program that focuses on the Hungarian language. Includes instruction in philology; literature; and applications to business, science/technology, and other settings.


Hawaiian Language and Literature

A program that focuses on the Hawaiian language and related dialects. Includes instruction in philology; dialects; and applications to business, science/technology, and other settings.

Mongolian Language and Literature

A program that focuses on the Mongolian language. Includes instruction in philology; dialects; oral and written literature; and applications to business, science/technology, and other settings.

Uralic Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics

A program that focuses on Uralic languages, including, but not limited to, Finnish, Estonian, Karelian, and Sami. Includes instruction in philology; oral and written literatures; and applications to business, science/technology, and other settings.


Sign Language Interpretation and Translation

A program that prepares individuals to function as simultaneous interpreters of American Sign Language

Relevant work experience

How much related work experience do you need to get hired for the job?

None
2%

1 month
0%

1 to 3 months
0%

3 to 6 months
1%

6 months to 1 year
15%

1 to 2 years
20%

2 to 4 years
29%

4 to 6 years
13%

6 to 8 years
1%

8 to 10 years
0%

Over 10 years
20%

On The Job Training

How much on the job training do you need to perform the job?

None or short demonstration
32%

1 month
21%

1 to 3 months
2%

3 to 6 months
20%

6 months to 1 year
5%

1 to 2 years
1%

2 to 4 years
1%

4 to 10 years
19%

Over 10 years
0%

Should you become one

Best personality type for this career

The Artist

People with this personality likes to work with designs and patterns. They prefer activities that require self-expression and prefer work that can be done without following a clear set of rules.

The Builder
19%

People with The Builder personality type likes practical and hands-on work. They prefer working with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery.


The Thinker
48%

People with The Thinker personality likes to work with ideas that require an extensive amount of thinking. They prefer work that requires them to solve problems mentally.


The Artist
86%

People with The Artist personality likes to work with designs and patterns. They prefer activities that require self-expression and prefer work that can be done without following a clear set of rules.


The Helper
76%

People with The Helper personality type likes to work with people and in teams. They prefer work that allows them to build relationships with others.


The Leader
29%

People with The Leader personality likes to start and work on projects. They also like leading people and making many decisions.


The Organizer
52%

People with The Organizer personality type likes to follow set procedures and routines. They prefer working with data and details more than with ideas.


You can read more about these career personality types here.

People who are suitable for this job tend to like working with forms, designs, and patterns. They often require self-expression and the work can be done without following a clear set of rules.

They also like working with, communicating with, and teaching people. They like helping or providing service to others.

Take this quiz to see if this is the right career for you.

Work Values

Which values are the most important to a person’s satisfaction for this job?

Achievement
52%

You are someone who is results oriented. You prefer work that allows you to utilize your skills and abilities while at the same time giving you a sense of accomplishment.

Working Conditions
60%

You are someone who values job security, steady employment, and good working conditions. You also prefer work that keeps you busy all the time with something different to do every day.

Recognition
57%

You are someone who values job advancement and leadership roles. You prefer work that receives recognition for the work you do and jobs that are looked up to by others in the company and your community.

Relationships
76%

You are someone who likes to provide a service to others. You prefer a work environment where you can work with your co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment.

Support
52%

You are someone who values a company that stands behind their employees. You prefer a work environment where everyone is treated fairly and is being supported by the company.

Independence
52%

You are someone who likes to work on your own and make your own decisions. You prefer work that requires little supervision and are allowed to try out your own ideas.

FAQ


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