Spanish Interpreter Job Description


The job of a Spanish interpreter revolves around facilitating cross-cultural communication. Not only must interpreters possess fluency in two or more languages, but they must also be able to relay concepts and ideas between languages in a quick and accurate manner. Subject expertise plays an important role as well. Most interpreters provide translation in highly specialized fields requiring specific knowledge and terminology. A skilled interpreter must be able to communicate advanced concepts in several languages, providing an essential service for today's increasingly multicultural society.

Nature of Work

  • Two modes of Spanish language interpreting exist, according to the United States Department of Labor. Simultaneous interpreting consists of listening and speaking at the same time that someone else is speaking. This sort of interpreting is often necessary at international conferences and court sessions. Consecutive interpreting, on the other hand, involves verbal translation after a speaker has finished relaying a concept in a couple of sentences. This form of interpreting is generally applied for bilingual communication between two parties.

Training and Education

  • The training and educational background of an interpreter varies. Most Spanish interpreters have mastered Spanish and English from an early age, demonstrating fluency in each tongue. Aside from fluency, Spanish interpreters in specialized translation fields usually possess a degree in a related field as well as a corresponding form of interpreter certification. No universal form of certification exists, according to However, the American Translators Association offers a wide variety of certification programs that help interpreters enhance their credentials.

Employment Opportunities

  • Spanish interpreters work in a wide range of settings. The United States Department of Labor lists common places in which Spanish interpreters work including educational institutions, healthcare organizations and hospitals, various branches of government, court systems, airline and travel companies, international corporations, publishing and media companies. According to the Department of Labor, approximately 26 percent of interpreters in the United States are self-employed, meaning that they work on a contract basis as independent consultants.

Career Field Outlook

  • states that employment for Spanish interpreters is projected to increase through the year 2014 at a faster rate than the combined average for all occupations. This high demand for Spanish interpreters stems from the broadening of international ties and the rising numbers of Spanish speakers in the United States.

Average Earnings

  • The earnings of a Spanish interpreter vary greatly depending on factors such as education, certification, type of employer, subject matter and experience. United States Department of Labor 2008 data shows that the average annual earnings of an interpreter in the United States is roughly $39,000. However, Spanish interpreters may earn significantly more or less depending on the circumstances of their employment.

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