Careers in Translation and Interpreting
Translators and Interpreters—In Demand
When an investigation found that millions of hours of al Qaeda conversations had been intercepted by the U.S. but weren't translated until after the 9-11 attacks, the critical shortage of translators and interpreters in the United States made for major headlines. But you don't need to speak Arabic or work in national security to have a career in translation or interpreting. The increasing diversity of the U.S. population, the growth in international trade, and the Internet have created a strong demand for professional translators and interpreters.
Translators work with the written word, transferring text from a source language into a target language. This is far more than replacing one word with another. The translator must also convey the style, tone, and intent of the text. The finished document should read as if it had originally been written in the target language for the target audience.
Interpreters work with the spoken word, transferring speech from a source language into a target language. This is far more than speaking two languages fluently. The interpreter must also communicate the style and tone of the speaker, while taking into account differences of culture and dialect. The listeners should hear the interpreted message as if it had been originally spoken in their own language.
A career in translation or interpreting offers a bright future
Following an analysis of economic trends that are expected to impact job growth, the U.S. Department of Labor stated, "Employment of interpreters and translators is projected to increase 24 percent over the 2006-16 decade, much faster than the average for all occupations."
The report also noted that the higher demand for translators and interpreters results directly from the broadening of international ties, the increase in the number of foreign language speakers in the United States, and the growing need in health care settings. All of these trends are expected to continue, contributing to relatively rapid growth in the number of jobs for interpreters and translators.
- Learn about translation and interpreting careers in the
Bureau of Labor
Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition.
- Find a school through a listing of ATA Institutional Members offering
translation and interpreting courses.
- Considering an internship program? Review the ATA Guidelines
in the Language Industry.
- Get up-to-date income and pay rate data on the translation and interpreting
professions. See the February 2008 ATA Chronicle for a Summary of ATA's
2007 Compensation Survey.