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Interpreters and Translators Pay Salary

The median annual wage of interpreters and translators was $43,300 in May 2010. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than the amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $22,950, and the top 10 percent earned more than $86,410.

Median annual wages in industries that employed the most interpreters and translators in 2010 were as follows:

Other professional, scientific, and technical services$51,650
Junior colleges43,980
General medical and surgical hospitals41,720
Local government 41,040
Elementary and secondary schools37,300

Wages depend on the language, subject matter, skill, experience, education, certification, and type of employer. Wages of interpreters and translators vary widely. Interpreters and translators who know languages for which there is a greater demand or that relatively few people can translate often earn higher wages, as do those who perform services requiring a high level of skill, such as conference interpreters.

For those who are not salaried, earnings typically fluctuate, depending on the availability of work. Self-employed interpreters usually charge an hourly rate. Self-employed translators typically charge a rate per word or per hour.

Because many interpreters and translators are self-employed, their schedules may vary, with alternating periods of limited work and periods of long, irregular hours. Still, most work full time during regular business hours.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition