Understanding the Americans: A Handbook for Visitors to the United States

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Whatever path of entry new interpreters and translators pursue, they should develop mentoring relationships with experienced workers in the field to build their skills and confidence and to establish and expand a network of contacts. Mentoring may be formal, such as that received through a professional association, or informal, such as that engaged in with a coworker or an acquaintance who has experience as an interpreter or translator.

Both the American Translators Association and the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf offer formal mentoring programs. After interpreters and translators have enough experience, they can move up to more difficult assignments, seek certification, and obtain editorial responsibility. They can also manage or start their own business. Many self-employed interpreters and translators choose to become self-employed as a means to advance.

They may submit resumes and samples to different translation and interpreting companies who will match their skills with various jobs.

Many get work on the basis of their reputation or through referrals from clients or colleagues. Some may also start their own companies, where they hire other translators and interpreters to work for them. Business skills. Self-employed interpreters and translators need general business skills to manage their finances and careers successfully. They must set prices for their work, bill customers, keep records, and market their services in order to build their client base.

Interpreters and translators must be able to concentrate while others are speaking or moving around them. Cultural sensitivity. Interpreters and translators must be sensitive to cultural differences and expectations among the people whom they are helping to communicate. Sign language interpreters must be able to make quick and coordinated hand, finger, and arm movements when interpreting. Interpersonal skills. Interpreters and translators, particularly those who are self-employed, must be able to get along with those who hire or use their services in order to retain clients and attract new business.

Listening skills.


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Interpreters must listen carefully when interpreting for audiences to ensure that they hear and interpret correctly. Reading skills. Translators must be able to read in all of the languages in which they are working. Speaking skills. Interpreters and translators must speak clearly in all of the languages in which they are working. Writing skills.

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Translators must be able to write clearly and effectively in all of the languages in which they are working. Note: All Occupations includes all occupations in the U. Source: U. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. In May , the median annual wages for interpreters and translators in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:.

Wages depend on the language, specialty, skill, experience, education, and certification of the interpreter or translator, as well as on the type of employer.

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Wages of interpreters and translators vary widely. Interpreters and translators who know languages that are in high demand or that relatively few people can translate often earn higher wages. Those who perform services requiring a high level of skill, such as conference interpreters, also receive higher pay.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program. Employment growth reflects increasing globalization and a more diverse U. Demand will likely remain strong for translators of frequently translated languages, such as French, German, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. Demand also should be strong for translators of Arabic and other Middle Eastern languages; for the principal Asian languages including Chinese, Japanese, Hindi, and Korean; and for the indigenous languages from Mexico and Central America such as Mixtec, Zapotec, and Mayan languages.

Demand for American Sign Language interpreters is expected to grow due to the increasing use of video relay services, which allow people to conduct online video calls and use a sign language interpreter. In addition, growing international trade and broadening global ties should require more interpreters and translators, especially in emerging markets such as Asia and Africa.

The ongoing need for military and national security interpreters and translators should result in more jobs as well.

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Computers have made the work of translators and localization specialists more efficient. However, many of these jobs cannot be entirely automated, because computers cannot yet produce work comparable to the work that human translators do in most cases. Job prospects for interpreters and translators should also vary by specialty and language. For example, interpreters and translators of Spanish should have good job prospects because of expected increases in the population of Spanish speakers in the United States.


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Similarly, job opportunities should be plentiful for interpreters and translators specializing in healthcare and law, because of the critical need for all parties to understand the information communicated in those fields. Interpreters for the deaf will continue to have favorable employment prospects because there are relatively few people with the needed skills. The Occupational Employment Statistics OES program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over occupations.

These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link s below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area. All state projections data are available at www.

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Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code. This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of interpreters and translators. Adult literacy and high school equivalency diploma teachers instruct adults in basic skills, such as reading and speaking English.

They also help students earn their high school equivalent diploma. Career and technical education teachers instruct students in various technical and vocational subjects, such as auto repair, healthcare, and culinary arts. Court reporters create word-for-word transcriptions at trials, depositions, and other legal proceedings. High school teachers teach academic lessons and various skills that students will need to attend college and to enter the job market.

Kindergarten and elementary school teachers instruct young students in basic subjects in order to prepare them for future schooling. Medical transcriptionists listen to voice recordings that physicians and other healthcare workers make and convert them into written reports. Postsecondary teachers instruct students in a wide variety of academic and technical subjects beyond the high school level. Special education teachers work with students who have a wide range of learning, mental, emotional, and physical disabilities.

Technical writers prepare instruction manuals, how-to guides, journal articles, and other supporting documents to communicate complex and technical information more easily. Discover Interpreting. For more information about interpreter and literary translator specialties, including professional certification, visit. American Translators Association.

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Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters. International Association of Conference Interpreters. National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators. National Association of the Deaf. National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters. National Council on Interpreting in Health Care. Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf. For more information about testing to become a federal contract interpreter or translator, visit. State Department.