How To Become An Interpreter In The US |

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How To Become An Interpreter In The US

If you have a specialty in a foreign language or American Sign Language (ASL), then you can become an interpreter in the US. With this job, you can experience a fast-paced professional environment, as well as the opportunity to travel and work in various industries. However, you must understand the academic requirements, skills, and primary responsibilities of this job to help you determine if it’s right for you.


In this article, we will explain the job role of an interpreter and review how you can become an interpreter in the US. As well as some interesting frequently asked questions (FAQ). So, let’s get started!

Key Takeaways

We have highlighted some key Takeaways you must keep in mind if you want to become an interpreter in the US. Scroll down!

  1. Interpreters often make communication easier between two parties who do not speak the same language. They therefore translate their questions, statements, concerns, and responses by using various technologies.
  2. To become an interpreter in the US, you must complete your education and gain entry-level experience by working at a hospital or an organization that needs the service of a language interpreter. And also earn a relevant certification in the field. 
  3. Furthermore, there’s a high demand for interpreters in the US. There are several types of interpreter jobs you can pursue, depending on your preferred work environment.

Responsibilities Of An Interpreter

As an interpreter, you will be in charge of facilitating communication between two parties by translating messages from one language to another. They must ensure to relay messages between two parties who speak different languages as accurately as possible and unbiased too. In addition, interpreters assist clients with spoken communication, unlike translators, who work with written communication.

Below are some of the major responsibilities of an interpreter. Let’s check them out!

  1. They often act as an interpreter between individuals who have diverse voices, accents, speaking tempos, and personalities.
  2. They must also interpret with no omissions or additions.
  3. As well as provide interpretations of questions, answers, statements, and explanations.
  4. They can also make use of technology, as needed, to provide interpretation from a distant location.

How To Become An Interpreter In The US 

Below, we have compiled the steps you can follow to become an interpreter in the US. Read on!


1. Obtain An Education 

If you want to become an interpreter, you must obtain the right academic credentials. Most employers often require that you have a bachelor’s degree as an interpreter, especially if you work for the government. Though there’s no preferred degree subject to pursue this career, you must become fluent in at least two languages by the end of your bachelor’s degree.

Meanwhile, most students usually make a language their primary field of study while others major in another area. Areas like business administration, just to gain applicable experience for their prospective field. However, students who are interested in interpreting sign language will have to take introductory classes in American Sign Language (ASL).

2. Gain Entry-Level Experience 

To become an interpreter in the US, you must pursue education and while at it, it’s essential to gain firsthand experience in the field as an amateur interpreter. As an aspiring interpreter, you may volunteer at hospitals, organizations, and companies to sharpen your skills. As such, you can look for volunteer opportunities to interpret for people who have difficulty hearing or are deaf.

This volunteering experience can also help you gain future employment opportunities after graduation. Furthermore, doing an internship is another way of obtaining hands-on experience. You may either get a paid or unpaid internship that will allow you to start building a resume after graduation.

3. Pursue Formal Interpreter Training 

Most tertiary schools usually offer formal training for individuals who aspire to become interpreters. These programs provide a certificate or an associate degree that is designed specifically to prepare interpreters with the skills they need on the job. Meanwhile, depending on the industry you intend to enter, you may be able to obtain formal training on the job. We recommend that you research available positions in your area and determine if a certification is required for the openings.

4. Get Certified 

Though employers may not need them, certifications will help you prove your proficiency with languages and interpreting. However, to verify your competency, both the government and state departments will offer a series of tests. The American Translator’s Association or Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters offers examinations or certifications. Even though some tests may not result in a certification, they can still verify to employers that you have significant professional skills.

5. Apply For Jobs 

You can search for entry-level or associate-level openings as an interpreter in the US. In addition, you should evaluate the required levels of experience and education for each. As well as apply using an updated resume and cover letter.

You must also review the job description to have an idea of the academic requirements and skills they’re looking for in a candidate.

These keywords are part of the things you will add to your application documents when you are applying. This is a great way to show that you’re qualified for the position.

Types Of Interpreters

There are different types of interpreters and we will discuss them below. Read on!  

  1. Community InterpretersThey’re usually required at community events, public/business meetings, social and government agencies, new-home purchases, parent-teacher conferences, and other community settings. Their job role is to interpret in one-on-one or group settings.
  2. Conference Interpreters: Conference interpreters work majorly at conferences with non-speaking attendees. Furthermore, they usually work for organizations that work closely with speakers of foreign languages. As a conference Interpreter, you can work in international business or diplomacy. You may also be required to convert two languages into one native language.
  3. Health Or Medical Interpreters: They work mainly in healthcare settings to help patients communicate with doctors, nurses, and other medical staff. Meanwhile, they must have a vast knowledge of medical terminology and know common medical terms in both languages they speak.
  4. Liaison Or Escort Interpreters: These types of interpreters often accompany foreign visitors to the United States or US visitors abroad. They must be good at interpreting for both formal and informal settings.
  5. Sign Language Interpreters: These interpreters help to facilitate communication between people who have difficulty hearing and are deaf and those who can hear. These interpreters must be fluent in both English and American Sign Language.

The Role Of An Immigration Interpreter

Below, we will discuss some of the roles of an immigration interpreter. Read on to learn more!

1. Breaking Down Language Barriers

As an immigration interpreter, one of your primary responsibilities is to facilitate easy communication between immigrants and immigration officials. This involves interpreting spoken and written language accurately, to ensure that immigrants have a clear understanding of the processes. As well as assist them in expressing themselves effectively.


  • Immigration interpreters are often required for interviews, hearings, as well as filling out forms. There are specific guidelines that outline the critical role and standards for these professionals.
  • Additionally, their role is far more than just language; they must also convey cultural nuances and context.

2. Assisting In Legal Procedures

To easily navigate the immigration process is like crossing through a maze. Therefore, immigration interpreters are the guides that assist immigrants to find their way. They also help to explain all legal documents and decipher bureaucratic jargon. As well as ensuring that immigrants are aware of their rights and responsibilities.

Top Responsibilities Of An Immigration Interpreter

The following are the top responsibilities of an immigration interpreter in the US. Read on!

  1. They help to translate documents like birth certificates, marriage certificates, and passports.
  2. They also assist in clarifying legal terms and requirements.
  3. In addition, they help in bridging the gap between immigrants and legal professionals.


Here’s a list of FAQs that relate to how to become an interpreter in the US. Scroll down!

1. What skills do you need to become an interpreter?

As an aspiring interpreter, it’s essential to have superior grammatical knowledge. And also possess the ability to interpret idioms, metaphors, and nuances in multiple languages. Furthermore, you must be a good and compassionate listener and can connect with a wide range of people.

Interpreters may also benefit from a cultural understanding of the languages they interpret to detect speakers’ and listeners’ nonverbal cues.

2. Is an interpreter considered an in-demand career?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for interpreters and translators may increase by 20% in the next decade. This surge in career growth reflects increasing globalization and a more diverse US population that may require interpreters’ services. Therefore, obtaining professional certifications or extensive experience can help you become a more competitive candidate.

3. Where can an interpreter work?

Interpreters can work in schools, hospitals, conference rooms, and courtrooms. They can work in interpretation companies and individual organizations, while private clients can also employ the service of these professionals. A small percentage of interpreters also work for the government.


Relocating to a new country is a challenging endeavor, especially when faced with language barriers. This is where the vital role of an immigration interpreter comes into play. So, to become an interpreter in the US is one of the great decisions you can make for yourself. These professionals aren’t just interpreters; they’re beacons of clarity, guiding individuals through the intricate maze of immigration processes.

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