• About 26 percent of interpreters and translators are • In addition to needing fluency in at least two languagaverage. self-employed; many freelance and work in this occupation only sporadically. es, many interpreters and translators need a bachelor’s degree.
• Employment is expected to grow much faster than • Jobprospects vary by specialty and language.
Nature of the Work
Interpreters and translators facilitate the cross-cultural communication necessary in today’s society by converting one language into another. However, these language specialists do more than simply translate words—they relay concepts and ideas between languages. They must thoroughly understand the subject matter inwhich they work in order to accurately convey information from one language into another. In addition, they must be sensitive to the cultures associated with their languages of expertise. Although some people do both, interpreting and translation are different professions. Interpreters deal with spoken words, translators with written words. Each task requires a distinct set of skills andaptitudes, and most people are better suited for one or the other. While interpreters often interpret into and from both languages, translators generally translate only into their native language. Interpreters convert one spoken language into another—or, in the case of sign-language interpreters, between spoken communication and sign language. Interpreting requires thatone pay attention carefully, understand what is communicated in both languages, and express thoughts and ideas clearly. Strong research and analytical skills, mental dexterity, and an exceptional memory also are important. There are two modes of interpreting: simultaneous, and consecutive. Simultaneous interpreting requires interpreters to listen and speak (or sign) at the sametime someone is speaking or signing. Ideally, simultaneous interpreters should be so familiar with a subject that they are able to anticipate the end of the speaker’s sentence. Because they need a high degree of concentration, simultaneous interpreters work in pairs, with each interpreting for 20-minute to 30-minute periods. This type of interpreting is required at internationalconferences and is sometimes used in the courts. In contrast to the immediacy of simultaneous interpreting, consecutive interpreting begins only after the speaker has verbalized a group of words or sentences. Consecutive interpreters often take notes while listening to the speakers, so they must develop some type of note-taking or shorthand system. This form of interpreting isused most often for person-to-person communication, during which the interpreter is positioned near both parties.
Translators convert written materials from one language into another. They must have excellent writing and analytical ability, and because the translations that they produce must be accurate, they also need good editing skills. Translating involves more than replacinga word with its equivalent in another language; sentences and ideas must be manipulated to flow with the same coherence as those in the source document so that the translation reads as though it originated in the target language. Translators also must bear in mind any cultural references that may need to be explained to the intended audience, such ascolloquialisms, slang, and other expressions that do not translate literally. Some subjects may be more difficult than others to translate because words or passages may have multiple meanings that make several translations possible. Not surprisingly, translated work often goes through multiple revisions before final text is submitted. Nearly all translation work is done on a computer, and most...