The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reports interpreter and translator jobs will experience immense growth between 2012 and 2022. Whereas all jobs are estimated to grow 11 percent and media and communications jobs will see eight percent growth, interpreting and translating work will undergo a whopping 46 percent growth rate. Languages expected to see the most demand are:
- Other Middle Eastern languages
With such a glowing job outlook, it makes sense for people have questions about breaking into this market.
The most important aspect of being an interpreter is being fluent in at least two languages. However, this doesn't mean all bilingual people are qualified. There are a number of additional talents—business skills, cultural sensitivity, writing skills—most individuals struggle with, however they are a must in this field and can be developed through education.
Most jobs require a college diploma, but you can begin training as early as high school. Take a comprehensive variety of courses focusing on English writing and comprehension, foreign languages, and computer proficiency.
All hopefuls should try to find a way to spend time in a foreign country, engage in direct contact with foreign cultures, and read extensively on a variety of subjects in English and at least one other language. Having a wide range of interests makes job candidates more likely to be hired because they not only have language skills, they also have subject-matter expertise.
Training can be pursued via universities, as well as through non-university training programs, conferences, and courses.
Firstly, the job field does not require licensing, accreditation, or certification. However, developing credentials provides documentation that you have the skills required to translate or interpret professionally. Be sure to research whether or not your state offers accreditation programs for interpreters. Becoming certified through one of these organizations is also helpful because you will be listed on their website directories, where potential clients requiring your services can find you.
The following organizations offer testing and certification:
- National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators: certification for court interpreting.
- U.S. Department of State: a three-test series for prospective interpreters.
- simple consecutive interpreting
- simultaneous interpreting
- conference-level interpreting
- International Association of Conference Interpreters: information for conference interpreters.
- Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters: offers two types of certifications for healthcare interpreters.
- Associate Healthcare Interpreter—for languages other than Spanish, Arabic, and Mandarin.
- Certified Healthcare Interpreter—for Spanish, Arabic, and Mandarin.
- National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters: certification for medical interpreters of Spanish.
Some companies hire only interpreters who have related work experience. Possible methods for earning experience include:
- Volunteering through community organizations, hospitals, and sporting events involving international competitors.
- Seeking out paid or unpaid internships.
- Applying for work in industries with particularly high demand for language services, including court or medical interpreting.
- Taking classes at a nearby college and seek out on-campus interpreting opportunities.
- Using connections to find unadvertised opportunities for work in the field.
Job prospects will remain highest for candidates who hold at least a bachelor's degree and for those who have professional certification. Those with a master's degree in interpreting and, or translation also have a consistent advantage. Large cities typically provide the majority of jobs, but thanks to the internet and great agencies like Ablio, freelance interpreters can work from anywhere. Job prospects will also vary by specialty and language. There will not be a point at which you will feel you have learned it all. Every day will give you new opportunities to advance and to hone your skills.