How to Become a


The complete career guide to be a Translator: 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
  • Growing Industry
    Career Attribute

Translators are experts in more than one language and use their skills to translate written texts from one language into another. They may work to translate literary texts, medical documents, or legal documents. They make written texts accessible to individuals who cannot read the original language.

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What is a Translator?

The following job responsibilities are common for individuals in translator roles:

  • Translate written texts from one language into another
  • Work to retain the style, formatting, and intention of texts during translation
  • Brainstorm ways to translate words and phrases without exact-match components
  • Utilize computer-assisted translation (CAT) software to assist with translations

A Day in the Life

When working with foreign languages, there are two main specialties: interpreters and translators. Interpreters specialize in translating spoken language, often as the language is being spoken. Translators, on the other hand, specialize in translating written words from one language to another. As such, they must be fluent in at least two languages. Often, they work to translate the words from a second language into that of their native language, such as from Arabic to English, or English to Spanish.

Translators can work in any setting where texts need to be translated, but they primarily work to translate literary, medical, and legal texts. Literary translators work to translate books, poems, and other written works into languages they weren’t originally written in. Medical translators translate medical information into other languages to make the information accessible to speakers of different languages. Legal translators work to translate legal documents into other languages for non-native speakers.

Translating a text is rarely—if ever—a word-for-word process. Most languages are formatted very differently, and many languages use words that do not have exact-match translations. For this reason, the translator must take great care to retain the original structure, tone, and meaning of the texts they translate. Many utilize computer-aided translation (CAT) software to help with this process. CAT software offers suggestions of pre-existing translations of words and phrases to expedite the process.

Typical Work Schedule

The work schedule for translators can vary significantly depending on the work settings and the specialization. Translators work on average 5 – 8 hours per day adding up to around 25 – 40 hours per week. You are normally expected to translate around 1500 – 3000 words per day but some translators can reach much higher translator rate. Many translators work as freelancer and accordingly they manage their own schedule with high degree of flexibility. However, translators commonly get overloaded when they have strict deadlines to fulfill.  Additionally, you may also be required to travel to other countries when they work in conferences or international organizations.  You should also dedicate some of your time to get trained on using new computer-assisted translation programs or get more knowledge about a specific country or specialization.

Projected Job Growth

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of translators is expected to increase by 20 % from 2019 to 2029 which is much faster than all other jobs. This is a resulting effect of the increasing globalization and diversity of the population around the world including the US. There is also increasing demand for translators for the military and other national security fields. Despite the recent technological advances in translations, the automated translations are usually not satisfactory as they do not account for the context, the specialization and the cultural background of the content. The high growth rate for this job makes it an attractive career option for fresh graduates who are seeking flexible and financially rewarding career. You may consider working as a translator if you master two or more languages and specialize in the field related to your degree. In this case, you may additional certification related to translation.

Translator Specializations

  • Literary translators translate literary texts—novels, poems, memoirs, etc.—into languages different from the original composure.
  • Medical translators translate medical records, prescription information, and doctor’s instructions into languages that are accessible to non-English-speaking patients.
  • Legal translators translate legal documents and court records into different languages so that they can be understood by non-English-speaking clients.

Typical Employers

Translators can work for a large variety of employers. Some translators may be employed by the government to work in different agencies, that includes working for the military as well as civilian offices. Another employer includes working for different educational institutions for various purposes. Medical translators work for hospitals or provide professional translations for different professional, scientific and technical services including the drug package insert. The majority of translators currently are not employed and prefer to be self-employed working remotely where they choose their own tasks and set their own schedules.

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How To Become a Translator

There are no specific educational requirements for becoming a translator. The ability to read and write in two or more languages fluently is the most important requirement. There are a number of ways one might become fluent in a second language. Some translators were raised in a dual-language household and learn multiple languages at home and school. Some study and major in a second language in college. Some are self-taught or learn through immersion by spending time learning languages abroad.

While being able to read and write two or more languages is the primary requirement, training in translation is also helpful in this role. In a translation program, you’ll learn how to use computer-aided translation programs, and you’ll also get feedback from professional translators on how well you’ve retained tone and content when translating. You may choose to pursue a bachelor’s degree in translation, or you may double-major in a foreign language and translation to pursue this path.

Additionally, familiarity with the subject matter of the works you aspire to translate is also beneficial and required in some cases. For example, many legal translators are trained lawyers, and many medical translators are trained doctors or nurses. This allows translators to understand the texts they’re translating enough to ensure accuracy in translation for critical concepts. Additional education or professional experience in related roles will ensure you’re able to translate texts accurately.

Translator 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

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High Range


National Hourly Wage

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How do Translator salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Translator'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 Translator. a is usually recommended and specifically a degree or coursework that prepares you for the particular field, see below.

Highest Education Among Translators

  • 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 Translator 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 Translators

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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