4 Interpretation and Translation Careers

There are a wide variety of interpretation and translation careers available from ASL interpreter to literary translator.

1. ASL interpreter

An American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter is able to translate spoken presentations into ASL. Interpreters for this specialized language for the hearing impaired are needed in universities, colleges and high schools, to interpret classroom proceedings. They can also find employment at conferences and public presentations where the conference hosts have committed to accessible presentations. Increasingly, there are opportunities in online classrooms and distance education where supplementary material is made available in ASL through online video presentations. ASL interpreters usually work on a freelance basis, for educators, special event providers, government and the judicial system.

2. Interpreter

An interpreter who is fluent in more than one language and who is able to translate quickly and efficiently will usually find employment with the courts, working with law enforcement or government. In addition to an undergraduate degree or native fluency in a language, the interpreter will usually complete a certification course, becoming a certified translator for state or federal court. Though there is no one standard interpreter certification, additional information about certification can be found on the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators website.

3. Translators

Translators usually transfer documents from one written language to another. A translator will usually have an undergraduate degree and fluency in more than one language. Currently, the American Translator's Association offers certification programs for several different languages, such as English to Croatian or English from Arabic translation, and more information about the certification courses and various languages available for certification, as well as the criteria that a translator or an interpreter will need to meet to apply for certification, are on the American Translators Association website.

Translators can work freelance or work for publishing companies, translating literary texts as well as technical documents, from English into many different languages, or from languages other than English into English. Translators may also be hired by individual professionals and writers who want to make their works accessible in more than one language.

Translators can also find work assessing foreign credentials, such as degrees, diplomas and transcripts, into English and a knowledge of a foreign educational system is also an asset in this area. There is also work available translating video games, for either the education or entertainment market, from or into English.

4. Foreign Language Teachers

Interpreters and translators may also become foreign language teachers. At the K-12 level, most foreign language teachers are certified teachers which means they have completed an education degree and have attained teacher certification for the state where they teach. Foreign language teachers at the college level usually have a graduate degree, sometimes a masters though a PhD is usually the minimum requirement.

Community or adult learning centers that offer foreign language training to adults, either for professional who need to learn an additional language for business purposes, or for people who are planning to take a trip and who need to learn the basics of communication in another language, may hire foreign language teachers who have teaching experience and fluency in another desired language, such as Japanese, Chinese or Spanish. Many of these teaching positions are available on a contract, non-permanent basis.