What does an Interpreter do?

Interpreters convert material from one or many languages to another, usually their native language. They may specialize in various fields including literature, science, or medicine and ensure the translated versions stay close with the original text. Interpreters convert concepts in source languages to equivalent concepts in the target language and compile information and technical terms into glossaries and terminology databases used in their translations.

Interpreters speak, read, and write fluently in at least two languages, one of which is usually English, and relay the style and tone of the original language. Interpreters convert information from one spoken language into another, intending to have people hear the interpretation as if it were the original language. They must read the original language fluently to translate it into a new language. Interpreters need a bachelor's degree in communication and fluency in two languages.

What responsibilities are common for Interpreter jobs?
  • Provide full level interpretation services for patients, families, associates and staff.
  • Mentor junior interpreters during pre-arranged training sessions with focus on helping them to becoming linguistically and culturally responsive.
  • Assist small groups when needed (spelling, reading math, etc.).
  • Provide interpreting services in consecutive interpretation and sight translations.
What are the typical qualifications for Interpreter jobs?
  • Bachelor's Degree in education or American Sign Language.
  • Solid language skills, including mastery of English and foreign languages and/or American Sign Language.
  • Requires good manual dexterity.
EducationBachelor's Degree
Work/Life Balance
3.5 ★
Salary Range--
Career Opportunity
3.1 ★
Avg. Experience8+ years

Interpreter Salaries

Average Base Pay

$45,818 /yr
Same as national average
Not including cash compensation
See More Insights
$31K
Median: $46K
$68K
See More Insights
Glassdoor Estimated Salary

Interpreter Career Path

Learn how to become an Interpreter, what skills and education you need to succeed, and what level of pay to expect at each step on your career path.

Interpreter I
$45,818/yr
Interpreter
$45,818/yr
Interpreter III
$49,461/yr
Interpreter

Years of Experience Distribution

0 - 1
33%
2 - 4
13%
5 - 7
3%
8+
51%
Not including years spent in education and/or training

Interpreter Insights

Read what Interpreter professionals have to say about their job experiences and view top companies for this career.
Kelly ServicesKelly Services
Farsi Interpreter
Nov 18, 2022

“The job was very interesting and because it was done remote I had no stress.”

LanguageLine SolutionsLanguageLine Solutions
Interpreter
Nov 25, 2021

“Good place to start your career localization industry and switch jobs after year or preferably less.”

Cyracom InternationalCyracom International
Interpreter
Jul 14, 2020

“Good thing to show on your resume if you want language to be part of your career and personal development.”

AMN HealthcareAMN Healthcare
Interpreter
Sept 15, 2022

“Almost no chance to advance your career ( which is terrible for your career prospects longer term)”

Suffolk County Community CollegeSuffolk County Community College
Bilingual Assistant
Aug 13, 2020

“I have experienced racial profiling which is unfortunate but not representative of the school as a whole.”

AA Global Language ServicesAA Global Language Services
Interpreter
Jan 5, 2022

“Not much work (at least for my pair of languages) although during interview I was told otherwise.”

LanguageLine SolutionsLanguageLine Solutions
Spanish Interpreter
Mar 6, 2022

“This is a great company that gives you the opportunity to lean as much as you want to learn.”

Cyracom InternationalCyracom International
Spanish Interpreter
Aug 10, 2020

“Not best place to have career... best to just work and earn enough money to pay bills until you can find something better!”

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Interpreter Interviews

Frequently asked questions about the role and responsibilities of interpreters

In a typical day, interpreters translate spoken words from one language to another while preserving as much of the original meaning as possible and remaining unbiased. An interpreter may specialize in a field like medicine or law. Interpreters work in settings like courtrooms, offices, and schools.

Yes, interpreting is a great career for strong communicators who are fluent in several languages. The profession requires creativity, concentration, and an understanding of the cultural norms entwined in the spoken languages. One of the best parts of working as an interpreter is the potential opportunity to travel for work.

A U.S. interpreter's average pay is $45,818 per year. However, interpreters with specialized knowledge have the potential to make upwards of $68,029 especially with additional years of experience. The languages an interpreter is proficient in also affect rates of pay.

There are some difficult aspects to being an interpreter. They need to switch between spoken languages while remaining unbiased and nonreactive to the content of the conversation. Listening and interpreting require concentration and a good memory. Becoming an interpreter means shouldering the responsibility for accurately portraying what each party is saying, which requires focus.

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Interpreter jobs