The news is out: the future is bright! Job prospects for interpreters are looking great. A 10-year job outlook from 2016 to 2026 projects an increase in the number of jobs at 18%, versus 7% for all occupations in general.
The 2019 US News & Jobs report even put ‘interpreter and translator’ at the #2 spot on its ‘Best Creative and Media Jobs’ list. Factors that weighed in favor include salary, employment rate, growth volume, stress level, and work-life balance.
The Bureau of Labor and statistics cites the median pay of interpreters at $47,190 in May of 2017. This can obviously vary depending on if you are a freelance interpreter, an employee at an agency, or in-house.
How To Become an Interpreter
Most interpreters have at least a bachelor’s degree. For those still in school, take as many language and culture classes as possible. This includes classes in your native language! Having detailed knowledge of grammar in both language will help in the long run. More than education, however, it is vital to have fluency in both of your languages.
Travel and spend as much time talking to those who speak your non-native language as possible. No amount of studying can really compare to immersion.
If possible, ask to shadow an interpreter. The job is interesting and changes every day, but it’s not always like what you see in the movies.
Becoming better at simultaneous interpreting takes a lot of work. Practice interpreting out loud as you listen to the radio. Practice interpreting in your head as you watch a movie. Practice!
Anyone can call themselves an interpreter, so there are several organizations that offer certification. The American Translators Association (ATA) represents both interpreters and translators. Their certification is widely known and a hallmark of professional ability.
Some settings require certification. If you have a specific type of interpreting you would like to do, such as courtroom or medical, check to see what state or national certifications you will require.
In the United States, Spanish continues to be the dominant language for which interpreters are needed. Many outlets also cite a growing need for sign language interpreters. Video conferencing software has infiltrated more areas of our lives, and is particularly well suited for sign language interpreting.
As business do more and more trade in the global economy, needs for other language pairs will also increase. German and French remain important in Europe. Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, and Hindi are all set to require more and more interpreters.
* All statistics sourced from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics