Forbes has ranked ‘Interpreters and Translators’ as the 15th fastest growing job in the country. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 29 percent employment growth for the industry from 2014 to 2024, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. By 2024, the BLS says, the field should add 17,500 new positions.
A deaf interpreter who was recently profiled by the Dallas/Fort Worth CBS station Karissa Santana says being an interpreter opens lots of doors: “You can work in the school district. You can work in the community or you can work in VRS, which is the video relay service which is interpreting phone calls for different deaf people.” The CBS video segment shows Santana recently working at a Six Flags Over Texas pop music concert, interpreting lyrics and the rhythm of the music. Soon, she hopes, she’ll have the chance to work as an interpreter on a cruise line. “One of the things I love about this is that I can go anywhere.”
Education and Certification
In most cases, being hired as an interpreter requires certification. In 2012, the Registry of Interpreters of the Deaf (RID) and the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) began requiring applicants for National Interpreter Certification (NIC) to have a bachelor’s degree before testing. Other, more broadly-focused organizations, such as the American Translators Association and the International Association of Conference Interpreters, offer various forms of certification as well.
The RID has more than 16,000 members and 58 affiliate chapters. Currently, there is a national shortage of sign language interpreters in the United States, even though there are 40 schools offering bachelor degree programs in American Sign Language (ASL) interpreting and 78 that offer associate degrees.
A Bright Future
The translation and interpreting industry attracts many entrepreneurs, and is home to 26,000 businesses throughout the world who will sure hire new employees after running the best background check as for any other position.
Forbes adds: “Investors and venture capital firms are hot on the translation trail. In fact, the translation industry has been attracting some famous investors in recent years. Among those who have shares in language service and technology companies are Mark Cuban, Ashton Kutcher, Tim Ferriss, Marc Benioff, Gene Simmons, and U2’s Bono.”
The demand for interpreters and translators is not too likely to be effected by technology anytime soon. Automating both spoken and signed languages is a major challenge. Of the 6,000 to 7,000 languages that exist in the world, most do not have a writing system – and about 200 of these are signed languages. When you consider that translation tools must be developed one pair at a time – for example, think Japanese into 6,999 languages, English into 6,999 languages – you realize how far away we are from making the universal translator concept a reality.
That may be why US News & World Report ranks Interpreter and Translator 39th on its Top 50 Best Jobs list.