Communication takes many forms, and perhaps no one understands that better than professional interpreters and translators. The ability to not only convert information from one language to another but to preserve the intent and emotional content of each idea communicated may be a difficult skill to acquire, but professionals who succeed at the nuances of language can expect their skills to remain in high demand well into the future.

While they perform similar work, interpreter and translator are two distinct titles. Interpreters tend to deal mostly with spoken or sign language, while translators handle written text. Members of both professions must exhibit excellent speaking, listening and writing skills, comprehensive cross-cultural understanding and a keen sense for various genres of communication.

How to become an interpreter or translator

It is understood that interpreters and translators must be fluent in at least two languages, but some employers may require additional skills. Language study at formal interpreter and translator colleges is not always a requirement, but it may give candidates a competitive edge in the job market. Some students, particularly those who come from multilingual backgrounds, may be able to undergo a significant portion of their interpreter and translator training online.

Interpreters and translators may also choose to pursue voluntary professional certification. Multiple professional organizations offer such credentials, and some employers may prefer to hire interpreters and translators who demonstrate their commitment to the profession by taking the initiative to become certified.

Translator salary and career outlook

Take a look at the table below for an idea of the salary and job growth interpretors and translators might expect in the years to come:

CareerTotal EmploymentAnnual Mean WageProjected Job Growth Rate
Interpreters and Translators58,870$57,00019.2%
2019 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2018-28 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.


Cost of Living Data Series: First Quarter 2014, Missouri Economic Research and Information Center, Missouri Department of Economic Development, http://www.missourieconomy.org/indicators/cost_of_living/index.stm

Occupational Employment and Wages: Interpreters and Translators, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, May 2013,

Interpreters and Translators, "Occupational Outlook Handbook 2014-15 Edition," Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Jan. 8, 2014,

Employment Projections: Fastest growing occupations, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, 2013,

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