How To Become An Interpreter For The Government

Learn how to become an interpreter for the government and have a government career working as a medical or legal interpreter. Are you interested in general healthcare, or do you have a particular skill set in a field such as medicine or the law? Whatever your interest, the possibilities of this position are endless. Learn about these opportunities today!

The first step to becoming an interpreter for the government is learning English. That’s right, English. You see, there are certain jobs that require the use of the native language in addition to English. If you don’t already speak the native language, then you must perfect it before going any further. After learning English, then you’ll want to start studying other languages so that you’ll be able to interpret them into English.

  Do you want to get work interpreting for the military? Are you tired of being underpaid and overworked, then this is the book for you. This book is designed to help people in their quest to become an interpreter for the U.S. Government and at the same time lay out a program that will enable them to achieve this goal without a host of wasted hours and dollars.

Becoming an interpreter is a rewarding career, but it is critical that you gain certain knowledge to serve your country. This article will help you understand the process of becoming a government interpreter.

How to Become an Interpreter for the Government  -Interpreters are a very important part of the Federal Government working alongside agents and officers from a number of organizations such as Customs, Border Patrol, the Secret Service and others. They rely extensively on their interpreters who work with foreign language speakers in a variety of settings like border crossings, interviews and detention facilities. The best way to become an interpreter for the government is by going to school and earning a degree in interpreting along with certification so it is vital to determine if you have what it takes to succeed as an interpreter prior to sitting in class…

What does an interpreter do?

Are you interested in becoming an interpreter for the government? Learn about the U.S. Department of State’s programs for Foreign Service Officers, Information Officers, Locally Employed Staff, and contractors, and their interpretation needs.

Interpreters are responsible for facilitating communication by converting messages from one language into another. They are responsible for transferring messages from one language to another as accurately as possible and in a non-judgemental or unbiased manner. Unlike translators, who work with written communication, interpreters work with spoken communication. Some of their primary responsibilities include:

  • Acting as an interpreter between people with diverse voices, accents, speaking tempos and personalities
  • Interpreting with no omissions or additions
  • Providing interpretations of questions, answers, statements and explanations
  • Using technology, as needed, to provide interpretation from a distant location

Minimum Qualifications to Become an Interpreter

Before working as a professional interpreter, candidates should meet these minimum qualifications:

  • Be 18 years or older.
  • Hold a high school diploma or equivalent.
  • Demonstrate bilingualism and literacy through language proficiency testing.
  • Hold a certificate for professional interpreter training (at least 40 hours of training).

Career Requirements

Degree LevelA degree is not always required, but most employers prefer an applicant who holds a bachelor’s degree with some formal coursework in interpreting
Degree FieldInterpreting, foreign language or related field
Licensure and CertificationNo license is required; voluntary certifications are available
ExperienceExperience working in interpreting or a related field is required by most employers
Key SkillsStrong verbal communication skills, fluency in at least two languages; listening skills and cultural sensitivity
Salary (2014)$43,590 annually (median salary for all interpreters and translators)

how to become an interpreter online

Sign Language Interpreting, Undergraduate Post-Baccalaureate Certificate -  Georgia State University

Here are the basic steps you should follow to become an interpreter:

1. Obtain an education

Most employers require interpreters to have a bachelor’s degree, especially for positions with the government. There is no preferred bachelor’s degree, although it’s essential that by the end of their bachelor’s degree program, the graduate be fluent in at least two languages. Many students make a language their primary field of study while others major in another area, such as business administration, to gain experience that will apply to the professional field they want to work in. Students interested in sign language interpreting may be able to take introductory classes in ASL.

2. Acquire experience

While pursuing education, it’s important to also simultaneously get firsthand experience in the field as an amateur interpreter. Aspiring interpreters can volunteer at hospitals, organizations and companies to hone their skills. If you’re interested in a career in sign language interpretation, look for volunteer opportunities to work with people who are hard of hearing or deaf. These volunteer opportunities can also create future opportunities for employment after graduation. An internship is also an option for obtaining hands-on experience. Students may be able to find either paid or unpaid internships that can allow them to start building a resume for after graduation.

3. Pursue formal interpreter training

Many postsecondary schools offer formal training for aspiring interpreters. These programs often offer a certificate or even an associate degree specifically designed to prepare interpreters with the skills they will need on the job. Depending on the industry you are entering, you may be able to obtain formal training on the job. Research open positions in your area and determine whether a certification is required or preferred for the openings.

4. Get certified

While not necessarily required, certification can demonstrate your proficiency with languages and interpreting. Both the government and state department offer a series of tests that can verify your competency. The American Translator’s Association or Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters offers examinations or certifications. While the tests may not always result in a certification, they still verify to employers that you have significant skill.

5. Apply for jobs

Look for entry-level or associate-level openings for interpreters in your area. Evaluate the required levels of experience and education for each and apply using an updated resume and cover letter

Continue Education

A variety of continuing education options are available to professional interpreters. For example, the National Association for Interpretation offers continuing education training and workshops for professional interpreters. Continuing education may help interpreters advance in their career by giving them experience or even certification in specific areas like personal presentation or graphic design; having additional skills may allow interpreters to take job opportunities with more responsibilities.

how to become an interpreter without a degree?

Step 1. Getting Started as an Interpreter with the Basics

An apprising Interpreter starts with building the foundation, and the primary focus of this profession is learning multiple languages. Similarly, as an interpreter, you have to develop an aptitude in multiple languages with cultural references. Moreover, it would be best if you had good ears and patience to listen carefully and sharpen your memory to store the information.

However, you shouldn’t only focus on fluency, although it is essential. Besides, it would help if you were well conversant of the vocabulary and grammatical rules with common mistakes. Similarly, you should be capable of understanding and exchange messages with the native speakers of the target language without any delay.

Step 2. Focus on Required Qualities for interpreting

You should dedicate and devote yourself to gaining your language fluency and make it quite visible to others. Moreover, you should develop an awareness of cultural interpretations and consistently accomplish your job with professional selflessness.

These qualities will gradually add to your knowledge and help to boot up your expertise to become an expert interpreter without a degree.

Step 3. Know What’s Fits with you to become an Interpreter

Interpreting service generally follows two ways to accomplish the job. You should brainstorm well before selecting either path after acquiring the necessary knowledge about the role in specific field practices. Simultaneous interpreting involves translating orally from one language to another in real-time.  In this interpretation service, the interpreters have to make decisions with their own desecration to demonstrate decisiveness instantly.

On the other hand, Consecutive interpreting involved listening to the speaker’s message and interpreting it to the target audience. Likewise, the interpreter repeats the same process when the target audience responds to the first interpretation. Besides, remembering the speech from both parties is the most critical skill in this interpretation service to become a successful interpreter without a degree. For example, they are interpreting in Health care serviceLegal serviceIT service, etc.

Step 4. Select Your Work Industry

When you have chosen the way of interpreting that fits with your personal preference, you can go ahead with that as a professional. So, there will be no confusion regarding what kind of interpreter you want to become and advance your career. However, there is still a wide range of options available in different types of interpretation and fields to select for your specialization.

For instance, you can grow yourself as a health care interpreterimmigration interpreterlegal interpretertravel interpreter, etc. Choose your profession wisely because you should enjoy doing what you have selected as your profession. Otherwise, there is a big chance that you will lose your patience and never grow a passion for it. Consequently, it will turn into a great career disaster.

Step 5. Gain Work Experience to become an Interpreter without a Degree

The best way to begin an interpreting career to find some opportunities to gather some experience. For this, you can try and get some internships under expert supervision for free. Moreover, utilized this chance and proactively learn as much as you can to gain hands-on experience. Try to earn a massive understanding of how this profession works in practice. You can also make your professional profile on LinkedIn, Fiverr, Freelancer, or Upwork to become an interpreter without a degree.

When you assess yourself confidently, apply for some small projects, and get real-life experience with them. Moreover, gradually complete projects one after another and keep increasing the completed project’s number with excellent client’s feedback and ratings. Faunally,   once you are known for your work, you will start professionally on your own.

Step 6. Never Stop Gaining Knowledge

Keep in mind! This is a journey, not your destiny. Once you achieved the target, you need to maintain your performance and position in your working industry. For doing so, you need to gain more and more knowledge continuously and consistently to become a successful interpreter.

Similarly, it would help if you kept yourself continually updated with the industry and languages’ currents. Finally, you should not make the mistake that you have learned everything and become a master because the process of learning is endless and should be constant.

Interpreting Certifications

Medical Interpreter Certification

  • Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters (CCHI)
    • CCHI is one of two national organizations to certify medical interpreters. Here are some certification preparation resources, including practice tests.
  • The National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters (NBCMI)
    • NBCMI is one of two national organizations to certify medical interpreters. Here are some certification preparation resources.

Community Interpreter Certification

  • Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), Washington State
    • In 1991, the DSHS in Washington state initiated an effort to certify its bilingual staff; social service and medical interpreters; and translators working for DSHS throughout its many divisions and programs.

American Sign Language (ASL) Interpreter Certification

  • Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID)
    • RID offers certifications and certification maintenance programs for ASL interpreters.
  • Board for Evaluation of Interpreters Certification Program (BEI)
    • Although based in Texas, the BEI certification is used and recognized in several states for ASL interpreters.

Court Interpreter Certification

  • National Center for State Courts (NCSC)
    • NCSC offers extensive information, legal glossaries and exam preparation for state court interpreter certifications and the Federal Court Interpreter Certification Examination (FCICE).
  • Maryland Court Interpreter Program
    • The Maryland Court Interpreter Program provides training workshops, testing, and continuing education for court interpreters. Certification exams are offered in 15 languages.
  • Pennsylvania Court Interpreter Program
    • Established in order to provide trained and qualified interpreters for the courts of Pennsylvania. Read about becoming certified, or maintaining one’s interpreter status with continuing education units (CEUs).

Translator Certification

  • American Translators Association (ATA)
    • ATA offers translator certification for a variety of languages at testing locations across the U.S. and sometimes abroad. Here’s the ATA certification information page.

How To Become An Interpreter For The Government

A government translator deciphers and analyzes documents in one language and converts them into another language. To work in this field, aspiring government translators must earn a bachelor’s degree. Computer proficiency and communication skills are also necessary. Earning a master’s degree in translation is an option for career advancement. Government translators may work for local or federal government agencies.

Required EducationBachelor’s
Other RequirementsFluency in a second language; work experience; on-the-job training
Projected Job Growth (2019-2029)20% (for all interpreters and translators)*
Median Salary (2019)$51,830 annually (for all interpreters and translators)*

Government Translator Career Information

Government translators may work in federal or local facilities, but many choose to work from home. They deal with text documents, journals and books on a daily basis, transcribing information from one language to another. Many translators are usually freelance employees, working alone and under strict deadlines. Along with a bachelor’s degree in at least one language, this career requires exceptional writing, editing and critical thinking skills. Computer proficiency is also necessary to a career in translation, because most documents are received, transcribed and submitted electronically.

Interpreters and translators are expected to benefit from a 20% employment increase from 2019-2029, according to the BLS. Job growth will be spurred by a growing population of foreign language-speaking citizens and an increase in international trade. Translators will find the highest employment rates in urban regions where immigration population is highest. Applicants specializing in more complex, less commonly studied languages or in high-demand languages, such as French, Italian, German, Japanese, Arabic, Chinese and especially Spanish, will enjoy greater career opportunities and generally higher pay. Translators can increase their chances of employment by earning certification through groups such as the American Translator Association ( or the U.S. District Court (

No matter what language you work in, it’s a good idea to enjoy working independently, as many translators do. This is a growing field where advanced education and certifications can help set you apart from other applicants. Your chosen language will have a significant effect on your job prospects and potential earnings, with both less common and high-demand languages offering the best opportunities.

how much do government interpreters make?

Out of around 77,000 translator and interpreter jobs, only 6 percent work for the government, the BLS says. Another 18 percent work for schools. Government interpreters can find openings at all levels of government and in multiple different agencies. Some freelancers work for the government, for example as FBI contract linguists.

The BLS says that while the government may not employ the most translators and interpreters, it pays the best. The median wage for a government interpreter or translator as of May 2020 was ​$59,390​. The median for all professionals working in the field was ​$52,330​. The bottom 10 percent earned under ​$29,740​. The top 10 percent earned more than ​$96,480​.

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