Translate or interpret written, oral, or sign language text into another language for others.
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Annual figures are on top. Hourly figures are below in parentheses.
N/A = Information not available
- Education/Teaching Individuals - Hearing Impairments
- Foreign Languages and Literatures, General
- Language Interpretation and Translation
- African Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics
- East Asian Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics, General
- Chinese Language and Literature
- Japanese Language and Literature
- Korean Language and Literature
- Tibetan Language and Literature
- East Asian Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics, Other
- Slavic Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics, General
- Baltic Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics
- Russian Language and Literature
- Albanian Language and Literature
- Bulgarian Language and Literature
- Czech Language and Literature
- Polish Language and Literature
- Serbian, Croatian, and Serbo-Croatian Languages and Literatures
- Slovak Language and Literature
- Ukrainian Language and Literature
- Slavic/Baltic/Albanian Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics, Oth
- Germanic Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics, General
- German Language and Literature
- Scandinavian Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics
- Danish Language and Literature
- Dutch/Flemish Language and Literature
- Norwegian Language and Literature
- Swedish Language and Literature
- Germanic Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics, Other
- Modern Greek Language and Literature
- South Asian Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics, General
- Hindi Language and Literature
- Sanskrit/Classical Indian Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics
- Bengali Language and Literature
- Punjabi Language and Literature
- Tamil Language and Literature
- Urdu Language and Literature
- South Asian Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics, Other
- Iranian/Persian Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics
- Romance Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics, General
- French Language and Literature
- Italian Language and Literature
- Portuguese Language and Literature
- Spanish Language and Literature
- Romanian Language and Literature
- Catalan Language and Literature
- Romance Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics, Other
- American Indian/Native American Languages, Lit and Linguistics
- Semitic Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics, General
- Arabic Language and Literature
- Hebrew Language and Literature
- Ancient Near Eastern/Biblical Languages, Lit & Linguistics
- Middle/Near Eastern/Semitic Languages, Lit & Linguistics, Other
- Classics/Classical Languages, Lit & Linguistics, General
- Ancient/Classical Greek Language and Literature
- Latin Language and Literature
- Classics/Classical Languages, Lit & Linguistics, Other
- Celtic Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics
- Southeast Asian Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics, General
- Australian/Oceanic/Pacific Languages, Lit & Linguistics
- Bahasa Indonesian/Bahasa Malay Languages and Literatures
- Burmese Language and Literature
- Filipino/Tagalog Language and Literature
- Khmer/Cambodian Language and Literature
- Lao/Laotian Language and Literature
- Thai Language and Literature
- Vietnamese Language and Literature
- SE Asian/Australasian/Pacific Languages, Lit & Linguistics, Other
- Turkish Language and Literature
- Finnish and Related Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics
- Hungarian/Magyar Language and Literature
- Mongolian Language and Literature
- Turkic/Ural-Altaic/Caucasian/Central Asian Lang, Lit & Ling, Oth
- American Sign Language (ASL)
- Sign Language Interpretation and Translation
- Foreign Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics, Other
Interpreters and translators can expect much faster than average employment growth. Job prospects vary by specialty and language.
Employment of interpreters and translators is projected to increase 22 percent over the 2008–18 decade, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. Higher demand for interpreters and translators results directly from the broadening of international ties and the large increases in the number of non-English speaking people in the United States. Both of these trends are expected to continue throughout the projections period, contributing to relatively rapid growth in the number of jobs for interpreters and translators across all industries in the economy.
Demand will remain strong for translators of frequently translated languages, such as Portuguese, French, Italian, German, and Spanish. Demand should also be strong for translators of Arabic and other Middle Eastern languages and for the principal East Asian languages—Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. Demand for American Sign Language interpreters will grow rapidly, driven by the increasing use of video relay services, which allow individuals to conduct video calls using a sign language interpreter over an Internet connection.
Technology has made the work of interpreters and translators easier. However, technology is not likely to have a negative impact on employment of interpreters and translators because such innovations are incapable of producing work comparable with work produced by these professionals.
Urban areas, especially Washington, DC, New York, and cities in California, provide the largest numbers of employment possibilities, especially for interpreters; however, as the immigrant population spreads into more rural areas, jobs in smaller communities will become more widely available.
Job prospects for interpreters and translators vary by specialty and language. For example, interpreters and translators of Spanish should have good job opportunities because of expected increases in the Hispanic population in the United States. Demand is expected to be strong for interpreters and translators specializing in healthcare and law because it is critical that information be fully understood among all parties in these areas. Additionally, there should be demand for specialists in localization, driven by the globalization of business and the expansion of the Internet; however, demand may be dampened somewhat by outsourcing of localization work to other countries. Given the shortage of interpreters and translators meeting the desired skill level of employers, interpreters for the deaf will continue to have favorable employment prospects. On the other hand, competition can be expected for both conference interpreter and literary translator positions because of the small number of job opportunities in these specialties.
Interpreters and translators held about 50,900 jobs in 2008. However, the actual number of interpreters and translators is probably significantly higher because many work in the occupation only sporadically. Interpreters and translators are employed in a variety of industries, reflecting the diversity of employment options in the field. About 28 percent worked in public and private educational institutions, such as schools, colleges, and universities. About 13 percent worked in healthcare and social assistance, many of whom worked for hospitals. Another 9 percent worked in other areas of government, such as Federal, State, and local courts. Other employers of interpreters and translators include interpreting and translation agencies, publishing companies, telephone companies, and airlines.
About 26 percent of interpreters and translators are self-employed. Many who freelance in the occupation work only part time, relying on other sources of income to supplement earnings from interpreting or translation.
Job Zone 4 - Preparation needed
A minimum of two to four years of work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is needed for these occupations. For example, an accountant needs four years of college and several years of accounting work to be considered qualified.
Most of these occupations require a four-year bachelor's degree, but some do not.
Employees in these occupations usually need several years of work-related experience, on-the-job training, and/or vocational training.
Accountants, chefs and head cooks, computer programmers, historians, and police detectives.
These occupations often involve coordinating, supervising, managing, and/or training others.
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Organizations dedicated to these professions can provide valuable advice and guidance to people interested in learning more about interpreting and translation. The language services division of local hospitals or courthouses also may have information about available opportunities.
For general career information, contact:
- American Translators Association, 225 Reinekers Ln., Suite 590, Alexandria, VA 22314. Internet: http://www.atanet.org
For more detailed information by specialty, contact the association affiliated with the subject area in question. See, for example, the following:
- American Literary Translators Association, University of Texas at Dallas, 800 W. Campbell Rd., Mail Station JO51, Richardson, TX 75080-3021. Internet: http://www.utdallas.edu/alta
- International Medical Interpreters Association, 800 Washington Street, Box 271, Boston, MA 02111-1845. Internet: http://www.imiaweb.org
- Localization Industry Standards Association, Domaine en Prael, CH-1323 RomainmÃ´tier, Switzerland. Internet: http://www.lisa.org
- National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators, 1707 L St. NW., Suite 570, Washington, DC 20036. Internet: http://www.najit.org
- National Council on Interpreting in Health Care, 5505 Connecticut Ave. NW., Suite 119, Washington, DC 20015. Internet: http://www.ncihc.org
- Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, 333 Commerce St., Alexandria, VA 22314. Internet: http://www.rid.org
For information about testing to become a contract interpreter or translator with the U.S. State Department, contact:
Information on obtaining a position as an interpreter and translator with the Federal Government is available from the Office of Personnel Management through USAJOBS, the Federal Government's official employment information system. This resource for locating and applying for job opportunities can be accessed through the Internet at http://www.usajobs.opm.gov or through an interactive voice response telephone system at (703) 724–1850 or TDD (978) 461–8404. These numbers are not toll free, and charges may result. For advice on how to find and apply for Federal jobs, see the Occupational Outlook Quarterly article "How to get a job in the Federal Government," online at http://www.bls.gov/opub/ooq/2004/summer/art01.pdf.
Sources: O*Net data version 12.0
Occupational Outlook Handbook
Department of Labor
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