What Are the Requirements of a Foreign Language Interpreter Job?

Interpreters use their foreign language skills to help facilitate communication between people who speak different languages. This article explores the requirements to obtaining a job in this field. Schools offering Applied Communications degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Becoming a Foreign Language Interpreter

Foreign language interpreters may find work as tour guides, health care workers and court representatives. To be an interpreter, you must understand the subjects you'll be translating so you can anticipate what topics will be covered during the conversation. Language fluency, certification and experience are important for a career in this field.

Important Facts About This Occupation

Entry-Level Education Bachelor's degree
On-the-job Training Short-term
Median Annual Pay (2012) $45,430
Job Outlook (2012-2022) 46%

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics


The primary requirement for an individual hoping to become an interpreter is an ability to speak fluently in two or more languages. While you don't need to have grown up in a bilingual house, many translators have been bilingual since childhood. If you didn't grow up bilingual, begin taking classes in high school, and continue your language education by majoring in your preferred language in college.


After you've learned a second (or third or fourth) language, you'll probably have to demonstrate your language abilities. While it may not be a requirement, certification can improve your chances of gaining employment as a foreign language interpreter. Translation and interpretation certifications involve taking a test to prove proficiency in a specific language. More information can be found by contacting the American Translators Association or the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators.


Many employers want interpreters who have related experience in interpretation. One way to gain this experience is volunteering with a community organization or government agency. If you earn a degree in a foreign language, the college or university may also have tips on ways to gain experience.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:

Popular Schools