Americans on the lookout for a job might greatly increase their chances if they become fluent in foreign language. As the translation and interpreting industry is predicted to be one of the fastest growing job sectors in the country, investing in language classes might pay off.
According to author Annalyn Kurtz, language skills are not only highly appreciated by a great deal of companies, but are welcomed by American government institutions as well.
In her article on CNN Money, she states that employers ranging from the American army to companies listed on the Fortune 500 are all looking to hire staff with multilingual skills.
In fact, the job opportunities for interpreters and translators are expected to increase enormously.
:: Kurtz states that the department of labour estimated that between 2010 and 2020, there will be about 25,000 job openings for translators and interpreters. This means that over these ten years, the sector will see a growth of 42%.
Moreover, this number does not include positions in the military field, which is also looking for more linguists. The demand for interpreters and translators is already visible on websites such as Indeed.com, Kurtz says; according to her, the word “bilingual” yielded about 12,000 hits last week.
The examples of companies that are looking for employees from the translation and interpretation sector are numerous. Apple, for example, is currently looking for technical translators in the Korean, Chinese, Mexican and Spanish languages. And the high demand means the salary is no joke either! According to Kurtz, a Californian school district is offering Spanish, Armenian, Korean and Chinese interpreters $40 per hour to work for them.
The median salary of people working in the translation and interpretation industry is about $43,000 a year, Kurtz says. However, interpreters and translators working in intelligence or for the military often make a lot more money. As these employees often face dangerous situations, Kurtz says, they can even earn a six-figure salary!
:: Jiri Stejskal, spokesman for the American Translators Association, says the American government is mainly looking for people who speak languages spoken in the Middle East and Africa.
Translators and interpreters that are skilled in these languages might make a lot of money, but this comes with a price, Stejskal says. After all, they must reside in war zones in order to do their job, which means they might have to face shootings.
If you are looking for a job that is a little less adventurous, Kurtz believes you can still find a high paid job in the translation and interpretation sector.
Translators and interpreters who know how to handle scientific, technical or medical content are also paid generously. In terms of what languages are paid best, there seems to be a clear division between the government and the private sector. According to Kurtz, the government gives the highest rewards to speakers of Middle Eastern languages such as Arabic, while interpreters and translators who speak Scandinavian or Chinese languages have the best salary in the private sector.
Kurtz states that most translators and interpreters work freelance.
According to her, this can be an advantage as this means they are flexible in their working hours. However, it can be a disadvantage as well: translators and interpreters do not have a regular income and do not enjoy the benefits that come with a contract-based job. President of the American Translators Association Dorothee Racette adds that prices can vary based on location, language pair and experience, to name a few.
Interpreters are also subject to variations in payment. According to Kurtz, they are usually paid per day, half-day or hour and their daily rate is somewhere between $300 to $1,000. Stejskal noted that the highest wages are commanded by interpreters that are certified by the International Association of Conference Interpreters. By contrast, translators are usually paid per word. Kurtz reveals that according to researchers at Common Sense Advisory, the average rate for the 30 languages in which texts were most often translated in 2012 was 13 cents, but rare languages are usually paid more. And, Kurtz says, because they are paid per word, fast translators have a higher salary than slow ones.
It seems the sector is flourishing and creating jobs and opportunities, which is all positive news.