School interpreters work with students to translate and communicate ideas, thoughts, and concepts from one language into another. They should possess a strong command of the languages being used, as well as the subject matter.
It’s important to note that interpreters deal with the spoken word while translators work with written texts. Interpreters often do translations both to and from their native language; translators usually work from a second language into their native tongue.
School interpreters should have strong listening skills, an excellent memory, and formidable analytical and research skills.
While there is no specific educational program required, school interpreters generally hold a bachelor’s degree in the target language they interpret. Either way, interpreters must be fluent in at least two languages.
Helpful coursework for aspiring school interpreters includes classes in communication, writing, foreign languages, and computer proficiency. Study abroad programs and immersion in different cultures can also provide valuable experience.
Some employers provide on-the-job training for school interpreters, but specific instruction on interpreting as well as previous experience, even at the volunteer or internship level, is usually required. Certification is also a possibility.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median annual wages of interpreters and translators was $38,850 with the middle 50% earning between $28,940 and $52,240.
Employment prospects for interpreters and translators are expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations. The increase in non-English speaking people in the United States as well as growing international relations will continue to drive this need.
The Department of Labor states that about 28% of all interpreters and translators work in public and private educational institutions. They predict a continuing demand for interpreters, even with all the technological advances, since humans remain the best interpreting resources.
*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics