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Career Profile: Interpreter/Translator

Why Is Interpretation / Translation a Job of Tomorrow?
With rapid globalization, it
has become increasingly important to break down the barriers of language to allow for free communication devoid of misunderstandings. Because of this, interpreters and translators are now in high demand, as they can be the voice for parties who speak different languages, allowing for smooth communication without hurdles. Employment opportunities for interpreters and translators are expected to rise 24 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Interpreters and translators earn an average hourly wage of $17.10, though earnings depend heavily on the language, subject matter, skill, experience and employer.

What Does an Interpreter/Translator Do?
Interpreters and translators have two different job duties, though the main goal of both is to facilitate understanding between speakers of different languages. Interpreters and translators must be fluent in at least two languages. The second language can be learned formally or informally, as long as the interpreter or translator has a firm understanding of it. Interpreters are responsible for the conversion of spoken words from one language into another. They can also convert sign language into another language, or vice versa. Interpreters must pay attention to the tone and manner of speaking of the original language and take care to interpret not only the words, but also the mood and meaning behind the words. Successful interpreters avoid misunderstandings. Translators, on the other hand, are responsible for the conversion of written words from one language into another. They can work on such projects as contracts, literature or inscriptions. They must keep the original integrity of the work intact in the translation, and for literary translations, they must also keep the writing devices and styles in place. For this reason, translators must be skilled in analyzing, editing and writing. Interpreters and translators can work with individuals, companies, the government or educational institutions.

What Kind of Training Do I Need to Become an Interpreter/Translator?
Although there are no formal educational requirements for interpreters and translators, those looking to join the field should seek to earn a bachelor's degree in a language or translation studies. Having a bachelor's degree makes the interpreter or translator more marketable, and proves that he or she is fluent in the studied language. A bachelor's degree program typically takes four years to complete, and courses cover such topics as literature and vocabulary. Most employers seek applicants who have a strong educational background and three to five years of professional working experience, which prospective interpreters and translators can obtain through internships.