Career Outlook

At a Glance

  • $46,150—The median annual wage for interpreters and translators in May 2015 in Minnesota
  • 29%—The projected growth rate in employment for interpreters/translators from 2014 to 2024 (the average growth rate for all occupations is 7%)
  • 61,000—The number of translation and interpreting jobs in the country in 2014
  • 6th—Rank of the Twin Cities of metropolitan areas with the highest employment level of interpreters and translators in 2015

Data collected from the Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Department of Labor

A Flourishing Industry

Employment of interpreters and translators is projected to grow at an impressive rate, due to increasing globalization and the number of non-English-speaking people in the United States. Demand will likely remain strong for translators of French, German, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish, as well as Arabic and other Middle Eastern and Asian languages.

A Variety of Options

Career opportunities are greater for those who have at least a bachelor’s degree or professional certification. Spanish interpreting and translation jobs should be plentiful because of the expected increase of Spanish speakers in the United States. Similarly, interpreters and translators in health care and law should see a rising number of job openings.

What Do Translators and Interpreters Do?

Typically, translators convert written text from one language to another, while interpreters translate the spoken word. Below is just a general outline of possible careers:

  • Community interpreters are needed at parent–teacher conferences, immigration courts, motor vehicle departments, social security offices, business meetings, home purchases, and other community settings.
  • Conference interpreters work at conferences that have non-English-speaking attendees. They should be able to convert from at least two languages into one native language and often do simultaneous interpreting.
  • Health or medical interpreters and translators help patients communicate with doctors, nurses, technicians, and other medical staff. They should know medical terminology in both languages and be respectful of patients’s privacy.
  • Liaison or escort interpreters accompany either US visitors abroad or foreign visitors in the US who have limited English proficiency.
  • Legal or judicial interpreters and translators help people at hearings, arraignments, depositions, and trials. They should understand the legal process and legal terminology in all of the languages in which they are working.
  • Literary translators convert journal articles, books, poetry, and short stories from one language into another. They often work closely with authors to capture their original intent.
  • Localizers adapt text and graphics used in a product or service from one language into another in order to make it understandable in the country in which it will be sold.