Become an Interpreter or Translator

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A more globalized society means that encountering language barriers is inevitable. From conducting business meetings with clients from different countries and cultures to creating subtitles for Hollywood blockbusters, it is becoming increasingly important for companies in all industries to find multilingual interpreters and translators.

Interpreters are charged with converting spoken language or sign language between parties while translators primarily work in written formats – translating everything from advertisements to books and magazines to different languages. It is critical that these professionals know two or more languages and can speak, write and read fluently in both. Moreover, it is important to master each language in its formal and informal usage.

Here is what you should consider when choosing an online interpreter and translator program:

  • Above all else, it is vital that an interpreter or translator be fluent in English and at least one other language. For this reason, many employers look for candidates that have received a bachelor’s degree in a relevant area or have completed appropriate job-specific training programs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics[i].
  • While an employer may value a candidate with years of experience speaking a different language, industry experience can also provide value. Many areas of law and business contain specific terminology, and candidates who know that terminology are often sought after.
  • There are several certifications that show proficiency in different areas of translation and interpretation. In a general context, the American Translators Association provides certifications between 26 languages and English.
  • The National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators offers certifications that specifically involve legal and court interpretation.
  • The National Association of the Deaf and the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf specialize in sign language interpretation.
  • The Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters and the National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters offer certifications that specifically relate to health care terminology and interpretation.
  • The U.S. Department of State offers three certifications that judge the effectiveness of interpreters pursuing positions as escorts, court work interpreters and international conference interpreters.


Mastering multiple languages often requires compiling extensive glossaries for technical terms as well as notes about style and tone. For this reason, many prospective interpreters and translators take relevant online courses to master the language they are interested in as well as the skills necessary to interpret and translate across any communication barrier. You may prefer online courses because they often do not require commuting and classes can be taken at the convenience of the student.


Some common courses include:

Legal/Court Interpreter: In this course, you could learn what it takes to interpret in a legal setting. Study theory, practice, vocabulary, and more.

Sight Translation: A course like this may focus on translating written text. You could learn how to orally translate the documents needed in court.

Medical Interpreter: Learn how to interpret in a health setting. In this course, you could study medical terms, Spanish translation, and other skills.


Career paths for interpreters and translators vary greatly according to your relevant industry and language experience. While some may choose to seek teaching positions, others may work in business, law, health, travel or many other fields. Study which options may be available using statistics compiled by the BLS.


This is the umbrella category that many interpreting and translating professionals fall under. They make a living conducting meetings between business professionals, navigating through language barriers in court rooms and hospitals, and providing assistance to the deaf.

Median Annual Salary: $49,930 per year

Job growth through 2028: 19% (Much faster than average)

Typical Entry level education: Bachelor’s Degree


While many interpreters and translators merely convert languages in speaking and writing so that two parties can communicate with one another, adult literacy and high school equivalency diploma teachers are charged with teaching non-English speakers how to convert their native tongue into English.

Median Annual Salary: $53,630 per year

Job growth through 2028: -10% (Decline)

Typical Entry level education: Bachelor’s Degree


Writers and authors with experience in different languages are also needed to convert books, journals, magazines, movies and more from one language to another. These interpreters and translators are expected to convert writing effectively while keeping the style and tone of the original piece intact.

Median Annual Salary: $62,170 per year

Job growth through 2028: 0%

Typical Entry level education: Bachelor’s Degree

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Sources for school statistics is the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics.

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This is an offer for educational opportunities, not an offer for nor a guarantee of employment. Students should consult with a representative from the school they select to learn more about career opportunities in that field. Program outcomes vary according to each institution’s specific program curriculum. Financial aid may be available to those who qualify. The financial aid information on this site is for informational and research purposes only and is not an assurance of financial aid.

1 You must apply for a new loan each school year. This approval percentage is based on students with a Sallie Mae undergraduate loan in the 2018/19 school year who were approved when they returned in 2019/20. It does not include the denied applications of students who were ultimately approved in 2019/20.

2 This promotional benefit is provided at no cost to borrowers with new loans that disburse between May 1, 2021 and April 30, 2022. Borrowers are not eligible to activate the benefit until July 1, 2021. Borrowers who reside in, attend school in, or borrow for a student attending school in Maine are not eligible for this benefit. Chegg Study® offers expert Q&A where students can submit up to 20 questions per month. No cash value. Terms and Conditions apply. Please visit for complete details. This offer expires one year after issuance.

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