English-Spanish Interpreter Jobs: Salary & Career Facts

Research what it takes to become an English-Spanish interpreter. Learn about career options along with degree requirements, responsibilities, and career growth to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Applied Communications degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is an English-Spanish Interpreter?

More and more schools, courts, law enforcement agencies, correctional institutes, and state and federal agencies need people who are fluent in Spanish to help communicate with non-native English-speakers. Hospitals, clinics, and other medical specialists use interpreters and translators. Even veterinarians often use someone to interpret for them. These professionals many times need to translate not only language but tone and style. They need to interpret spoken messages quickly, accurately, and clearly, which they may do simultaneously with the original speaker, consecutively, or whispered. They may need to read and write in both languages as well. Read on to learn about education options, work experience opportunities, and potential earnings in the field in the chart below.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree; master's degree recommended for government jobs
Education Field of Study Communications, interpretation and translation, foreign languages
Key Responsibilities Help interpret English and Spanish in medical, legal, educational, or community settings
Job Growth (2014-2024) 29% increase (for all interpreters and translators)*
Median Wage (2015) $44,190 (for all interpreters and translators)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Education Do I Need To Become an English-Spanish Interpreter?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a bachelor's degree is often recommended or required for interpretation positions (www.bls.gov). Although you don't need to major in a foreign language, several schools offer training in interpretation and translation. Courses are typically offered as a minor or through a supplemental certificate program. Additionally, you'll need some first-hand knowledge of other cultures, computer proficiency, and the ability to speak at least two languages fluently.

English-Spanish interpreter programs and courses offer an introduction to interpretation and might focus on specific training, such as court, medical, or simultaneous interpretation. You might take courses in reading and writing, conversational Spanish, grammar, and cultural customs. Other training could consist of interpretation practices in special settings, terminology, and ethical considerations.

How Do I Gain Work Experience?

To gain experience as an English-Spanish interpretor, you can participate in apprenticeship or internship programs. You can find some paid positions, though some may not offer wages; however, they will give you the tools and experience needed to begin your career as an interpreter. You can also engage in volunteer work through hospitals, community-based organizations, or sporting events. You can find intern positions for English-Spanish interpretation through some state courts, schools, nonprofit groups, and international organizations, both locally and abroad.

What Salary Could I Expect to Earn?

The BLS stated that the overall median salary for interpreters and translators was $44,190 in 2015. PayScale.com specified that the hourly wages for most Spanish interpreters and translators ranged from $9.14 to $43.32 per hour as of October 2016. As you gain experience, your income could increase, with the site noting that all interpreters and translators with 10-20 years' experience earned a median of $50,000 per year.

What Are Some Related Occupations?

Your specialized skills also qualify you for similar positions. Related occupations might include translator, medical interpreter, court interpreter, or bilingual interpreter. You can also specialize in educational, conference, or sign language interpreting. You could freelance or find permanent employment with lawyers' offices, hospitals, government agencies, or nonprofit organizations. For all of these positions, you will typically need to obtain at least a bachelor's degree.

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:
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