Career Profile: Translator and Interpreter
There are many different languages spoken around the world, and even in Canada we have French and English as official languages, plus many First Nations languages that are both written and spoken around the country, such as Oneida, Cree, Algonquin, Mohawk, Inuktitut and Okanagan, to name only a few. Canada also has a strong immigrant population from many different countries, many of whom are fluent in their native languages but still learning to speak English.
There are also sign language interpreters, who can facilitate communication between speaking and hearing people and people who are mute, Deaf, or Hard of Hearing.
Even though we all speak different languages, it’s important that we are able to communicate with each other for business and for fun activities. This is where professional translators and interpreters come in. These professionals are individuals who can speak and/or read more than one language fluently, and will work at translating written documents from one language to another, or act as spoken word interpreters to facilitate communication between individuals and groups.
Translators primarily work on written text, while interpreters work with spoken words. It is common for bilingual or multilingual people to perform both types of work.
While it may not seem like it, translators and interpreters are very creative people, as they must translate the language as accurately as possible, while still retaining the meaning, tone, and emotional depth of the original words.
Translators will often be employed by companies, schools or the government to translate written documents into different languages, including reports, legal documents, textbooks, or software. They are responsible for revising and correcting their own and other translators’ work, as well as training new translators.
Interpreters can be employed in all the same venues, but instead provide services for spoken communication. They can provide their services using their own voice or electronic equipment, and can perform these tasks either simultaneously while someone is speaking, after someone has finished speaking, or as whispered speech to one or both parties. It is common for interpreters to work during conferences, meetings, court proceedings, and other public events. Increasingly, sign language interpreters are part of these events to provide ASL services for attendees.
Translators and interpreters are part of a regulated profession in Canada, which means that a license exam or other certification is required to work in this field. Certification courses and exams are available through the Canadian Translators, Terminologists, and Interpreters Council. You will also need a college or university degree in translation, linguistics, one or more spoken or written languages, or a related field of study. Sign language interpreters will also require additional testing and certification through an accredited ASL association.
Hourly wages for translators and interpreters start around $15 per hour for entry-level positions, up to around $40 per hour for more experienced positions. Wages will also vary based on what part of the country you work in. These wages average out to an annual salary between $30,000 and $65,000.