How to Become a

Chinese Interpreter

The complete career guide to be a Chinese Interpreter: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $48,360
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 28.7%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Creativity Focused
    Career Attribute

Chinese interpreters are responsible for listening to , understanding and translating spoken or written statements in the Mandarin Chinese language.  They convert this information from one language (Chinese) to another language.

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What is a Chinese Interpreter?

The following responsibilities are common for Chinese Interpreters:

  • Compiles terminology and information used for translations, including technical terms, especially legal and medical terms
  • Discusses translation requirements with clients, like fees charged and services expected along with contract agreements
  •  Read, proofread, edit and revise as needed any written materials such as, legal documents, medical records, news reports or scientific journals, and rewrite the material into the specified language
  • Adapt translations to students if required and collaborate with other educators if necessary for your occupation
  • Listen to the speakers statements and translate them accordingly, using electronic systems when necessary

A Day In The Life

Chinese interpreters assist in communication by converting messages, speech and text from Mandarin Chinese into a different language or visa versa.  Although, most people do both, interpreters and translators are two different occupations.  Translators work with the written language while interpreters work with spoken language.

Therefore, Chinese interpreters convert the Mandarin Chinese language into another. The goal of the interpreter is to have other people hear the interpretation as if it were the original.  These individuals must be fluent in Mandarin Chinese and the other language of interpretation to be able to flawlessly communicate between both parties that do not share a common language.

There are three common types of interpreting: simultaneous, consecutive, and whispered.  Simultaneous do not begin to interpret until the general meaning of the sentence is completely understood.  This style requires that an interpreter to listen and speak at the same time.  Basically, anticipating what the clients next word is going to be.  The consecutive style of interpreting begins only after the speaker has said a group of words or a complete sentence.  They will take notes during this style of interpreting.  It is a large part of how this style of interpretation works.  And in the whispered style if interpreting, they sit very close to the client and provides a simultaneous interpretation in a hushed or quiet voice.

Typical Work Schedule

When interpreters are busy with jobs, it will be a full-time employment.  Unfortunately, this position may have extended periods of limited work and may require irregular hours as well.

Projected Job Growth

Due to the strengthened ties between the United Stated and China, the career field of Chinese translation is expected to grow exponentially over the next few years.

Typical Employers

A Chinese Interpreter would typically be self-employed or work in schools, hospitals, courtrooms or conference centers.  While other can work for government agencies like the FBI or citizenship and deportation agencies.

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How To Become a Chinese Interpreter

Education requirements for interpreters can vary greatly.  But it is essential as a Chinese interpreter that a student is both fluent in Mandarin Chinese and the English language.  A bachelor’s degree is recommended to become an Chinese interpreter.  Coursework such as languages, Chinese cultures and customs, sociology, and spending time abroad in the Chinese culture would also be beneficial for students pursuing this career path.  Many degree programs will offer a student the opportunity to study abroad in order to fully immerse themselves in the cultures and language.  This helps the student refine their reading, writing and communication skills.

Students can also get involved with community programs and language organizations.  These programs often offer events where students can network with other potential interpreters and refine their language skills in conversation and in a social setting.  Employers also prefer individuals with training and experience,  The best places to gain this experience would be through volunteer programs through the Red Cross, hospitals and during mentorships.  It would be also very beneficial for the student to keep a portfolio of all the programs they have experience using their Chinese interpreter skills to show potential employers the extent of their experience.

Interpreters generally need specialized training to do there work.  Most individuals will complete job-specific training programs.  Currently there is no universal certification to become a Chinese interpreter in the United States.  Although job specific testing is likely to be required depending on where the individual is employed.

Chinese Interpreter Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

Low Range




High Range


National Hourly Wage

Low Range




High Range


How do Chinese Interpreter salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Chinese Interpreter's can make an average annual salary of $48,360, or $23 per hour. This makes it an Above Average Salary. On the lower end, they can make $32,470 or $16 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #408 Nationally for All Careers

Programs and Degrees

Here are the most common degrees for becoming a Chinese Interpreter. a is usually recommended and specifically a degree or coursework that prepares you for the particular field, see below.

Highest Education Among Chinese Interpreters

  • 4.5%   Doctorate
  • 14.4%   Masters
  • 30.9%   Bachelors
  • 13.6%   Associates
  • 22.4%   College
  • 11.3%   High School
  • 2.9%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Chinese Interpreter job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 17,500 jobs for a total of 78,500 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 28.7% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Below Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #17 Nationally for All Careers

What Companies Employ The Most Chinese Interpreters

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Self-employed workers 10,400 1,100 1%
Elementary and secondary schools; local 9,800 600 1%
General medical and surgical hospitals; private 3,800 1,100 1%

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