Interpreters and Translators: Level and Salary Data

Interpreters and Translators: Bridging Communication Gaps

Interpreters and translators are essential in today’s global economy, breaking down language barriers and facilitating communication between individuals, organizations, and governments. These professionals take on the responsibility of conveying meaning and information accurately and efficiently, while respecting cultural and linguistic differences.

What is the Job of an Interpreter or Translator?

Interpreters and translators do similar work, but they serve different purposes. An interpreter helps people communicate by interpreting in real-time, converting spoken words from one language to another in meetings, conferences, courts, hospitals, and other settings. A translator, on the other hand, works with written content, converting documents, books, videos, and other forms of text from one language to another. Interpreting and translating jobs are booming in various industries such as healthcare, government, legal, finance, and education.

Examples of Interpreting or Translation Jobs

Medical Interpreter: A medical interpreter translates information between healthcare providers and non-English speaking patients. They facilitate communication between the patient and healthcare provider, ensuring that the patient understands their diagnosis, treatment options, and medications.

Legal Interpreter: A legal interpreter converts information between attorneys, judges, and non-English speaking clients or witnesses. They must be knowledgeable in legal terminology and able to interpret accurately without adding or omitting information.

Localization Translator: A localization translator adapts written content, such as websites, manuals, or marketing materials, for a specific target audience in a particular country, taking into account cultural nuances and language variations.

Requirements for Becoming an Interpreter or Translator

Education and training requirements vary depending on the language pair and the specific industry. Most interpreters or translators have a bachelor’s degree in translation or a related field. While some interpreters or translators can enter the field with a high school diploma and bilingual proficiency, most organizations prefer candidates with formal training or certification.

Professional associations such as the American Translators Association or the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators provide certification programs that demonstrate a candidate’s translation or interpreting skills and ethics.

Progressing in the Field

The path to becoming a successful interpreter or translator involves networking, continuing education, and gaining experience in the industry. Interpreters or translators may start as freelance workers, then specialize in a specific field or language pair, or work with a specific organization. They can move up the ladder by building a client base, partnering with other professionals, and improving their language skills and subject matter expertise.

Entering the Field as a Newcomer

If you are interested in becoming an interpreter or translator, start by gaining proficiency in two or more languages, attending translation or interpreting classes, and practicing by translating or interpreting for friends or family. Internships or volunteering for local businesses, nonprofits, or community organizations also provide opportunities to gain experience and build a portfolio.


Interpreters and translators play a crucial role in connecting people and cultures, creating a more inclusive and understanding world. Pursuing a career in translation or interpreting requires education, hard work, and dedication, but it can be a rewarding and fulfilling path for those seeking a profession that combines language skills with cultural awareness.

Interpreters and Translators: Level and Salary Data

The occupation of Interpreters and Translators involves converting spoken or written language from one language to another. Here is a breakdown of job levels and salary data:

Job Level Salary (US National Average) Salary Range – Lowest Salary Range – Highest
Level 06 $47,652.80 $39,270.40 $47,756.80
Level 07 $55,224.00 N/A $55,161.60
Level 08 $55,369.60 $58,656.00 N/A
Not able to be leveled $69,576.00 $56,388.80 $71,073.60
Entry $48,630.40 N/A $49,254.40
Experienced $80,392.00 N/A N/A
Nonunion $58,739.20 $55,099.20 N/A
Full-time $63,024.00 $58,385.60 N/A
Note: Time-based pay refers to payment by the hour, whereas full-time pay refers to salaried positions.

In addition to job level and pay structure, the occupation of Interpreters and Translators can be affected by unionization. Nonunion workers in this field earn an average salary of $58,739.20, whereas unionized workers may earn more or have different benefits.

Geographical Salary Averages

According to the data, Interpreters and Translators working in Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO earn more than in any other region, with a time-based pay average of $71,843.20. On the other hand, those working in Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ under a nonunion framework have the lowest average salary at $42,952.00.