What does a Interpreter or Translator do?


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An interpreter and translator provides information and content from one language to another language. An interpreter can speak and use sign language and a translator would provide the written translation. The most sought after languages are Spanish, Middle Eastern, German, French, Russian and Portuguese. However, many require you to be completely fluent in the English language above all others as many other countries learn English as a second language as well.

Watch a video to learn what an interpreter or translator does:

How to Become an Interpreter and Translator

Most interpreters and translators hold a bachelor’s degree and are fluent in the English language and another language. The more languages you have command of, the more competitive you become for a job. A lot of work-related experience and/or vocational training would be very helpful. Some people complete job-specific training programs in this career field.

Job Description of an Interpreter/Translator

An interpreter and translator maintains message content, context, and style in the specified language when translating messages. They prepare translations and determine meanings when listening to a speakers’ statement. They also provide information and terminology that has been applied in medical, legal, or technical terms. He or she translates material such as legal documents, news reports, or even scientific works.

An interpreter and translator ensures the accuracy of the translation and will maintain the integrity of the context during the translation revision process. They use encyclopedias, dictionaries, and computerized technology banks for reference materials to maintain correctness in translation.

An interpreter and translator needs to be knowledgeable of the content, structure, spelling, and composition of a language as well as it’s grammar, pronunciation, meanings, and rules of composition. An interpreter and translator must have active listening skills and speaking skills in order to properly and clearly communicate with others. They use their skills in reading comprehension, writing, and instructing others. They also maintain cooperative and working relationships with others.

Interpreter and Translator Career Video Transcript

If you are fluent in more than one language, you might qualify to join an elite workforce: interpreters and translators. They are needed anywhere cultures intersect. In courtrooms, schools, and health care offices, interpreters need to keep up with fast-talking speakers and signers who don’t realize how difficult it is to translate in real-time. Accuracy is vital, and interpreters must follow strict ethical guidelines to protect clients’ privacy.

The opportunities can be quite varied, with jobs that take you to top-level business meetings one day, and school conferences the next. Translators spend more of their time in the office or working from home on assignments such as translating websites, operating manuals, and other written materials. They may need a special keyboard for different alphabets. For both interpreters and translators, the need for precision is paramount, as they are the link between those who wish to convey information and those who need to understand it. A sensitivity to how cultural differences affect communication is essential to avoid embarrassing, or even dangerous, errors.

Employers in these fields often look for a candidate with a bachelor’s degree in a foreign language or American Sign Language. These professionals build bridges to bring groups together that would otherwise remain separated.

Article Citations

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Interpreters and Translators.

National Center for O*NET Development. 27-3091.00. O*NET OnLine.

The career video is in the public domain from the U. S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.

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