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Check Out the Insights of a Career as a Translator/Interpreter

Career as a Translator

Are you someone who loves languages? Do you find interesting to learn some foreign language? While English is the most popular language, Spanish, Chinese, French, German, etc. are equally important in many fields including trade and commerce, education, government diplomatic missions. So, who helps people from different countries with different languages in these fields? An interpreter or translator is the official person for these jobs and if you love languages you could be one of them.

The translator is a specialist who can interpret a written text and translate it back in the language of expertise. As a translator, you should have knowledge of the country or the state’s culture (from where the text and language are connected), so that you can translate it in meaningfully. An interpreter is a specialist who interprets an oral conversation. Most of the times, as an interpreter, you will translate the conversation on both sides. You should be quick to comprehend the oral content to interpret it. In both these professions, one this that you need is love for languages.

Why become a Translator/Interpreter?

Translator/ Interpreter is a specialist who knows more than one language and translates one language orally or by written means to the other language. This profile can be divided into:

Translator: Translator is a specialist who translates written text from one language to another. A translator has a good ability to understand the source language along with basic knowledge of that country. Also, they have a good command over the language in which the text is to be translated. They also have a wide vocabulary of the target language. So apart from linguistic and cultural knowledge, they must be good at writing too. Majority of the translator only translate from one language to another and not vice versa although they know both languages. In most cases, they translate into their mother tongue or 1st language only. 

Interpreter: Interpreter is a language specialist who translates orally from one language to another. An interpreter has a good ability to hear and comprehend language instantaneously. He or she is a good orator too and has good translation speed without any external help. An interpreter also interprets language in both ways. As an interpreter you will listen to the oral source, you will simultaneously translate it in your mind and speak out it in a new language.

As a translator/ interpreter you will be working in different sectors. Some of you will work for embassies, cultural bodies, museums, inter-cultural organisations, etc. While others may work with official government agencies where 2 more languages are officially used, MNCs, newspaper, publishing houses, hospitality, travel and aviation sectors. 

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  1. Translators convert written text or verbal text from one language (often referred to as the source language) to another language (often referred to as the target language). Translators have to understand the meaning of the text in the source language and then convert the text into the target language in a way so that the true meaning and the manner of writing in the source language is adequately and appropriately converted into the target language.
  2. Interpreters generally covert spoken language from one language (often referred to as the source language) to another language orally (often referred to as the target language). Typically, Interpreters listen to what is being spoken by a person in the source language and then instantly convert it orally into another language which is understood by a listener. For example, Indian Prime Minister often speak in Hindi. So while he has a meeting with, say, with the Russian President or Chinese Premier, an Interpreter converts what the Russian President or Chinese Premier says in Russian or Chinese into Hindi and tell that to Indian PM. Moreover, when he speaks anything in Hindi, the Interpreter converts into Russian or Chinese and say PM’s words to the Russian President or Chinese Premier.
  3. Transcribers listen to what other people say (for example, what a witness says in a courtroom) or listen to a recorded speech and convert what she hears into text. She has to be an expert in language for this job and also has to have a very high typing speed or ability to write in shorthand. She may often work to listen to a recorded speech or a video (such as a doctor’s prescription or a speech by a foreign political leader) and then transcribe that into text.

What does Translator/Interpreter do? 

As a translator/interpreter, depending on your profile, you would have the following roles and responsibilities: 


  • You will be handed daily tasks of translating from source language to target language.
  • You will maintain a daily record of translation.
  • You will send the written translated work to the person in charge. 
  • You will read the source material and research about industry-specific terminology.
  • You will use a dictionary and other resources to get more information. 
  • You will convert both text and audio sources. 
  • You will ensure that the translated text conveys the same original meaning and tone.


  • You will be responsible for providing interpretation between two people or bodies/ agencies. 
  • You will be responsible for handling communication in two languages simultaneously. 
  • You will assist both parties who do not speak a common language in understanding each other.
  • You will translate into both languages at the same time.

How to become a translator/Interpreter – Eligibility Criteria 

To become a Translator or an Interpreter, you should at least have a Bachelor degree in the language in which you want to become an expert. Master’s degree is also often useful. For translation, you should master both the languages, that the language to translate from and the language to translate to (often called the source/original language and translation language). You may also learn a language by attending successive levels of proficiency. Some of the languages in which it is easier to find an opportunity are:

  • Assamese
  • Bengali
  • Chinese
  • English
  • French
  • German
  • Gujarati
  • Hindi
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Kannada
  • Malayalam
  • Marathi
  • Odiya
  • Punjabi
  • Spanish
  • Tamil
  • Telugu
  • Urdu

Educational Fees

The educational fees for becoming a translator/interpreter in India can vary depending on the course and institution you choose. Here are some examples of popular courses and their approximate fees:

  1. Diploma in Translation and Interpretation – This is a one-year diploma course that can cost anywhere between INR 10,000 to INR 50,000 depending on the institution.
  2. Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Translation and Interpretation – This is a three-year undergraduate course that can cost between INR 50,000 to INR 1,50,000 depending on the institution.
  3. Master of Arts (MA) in Translation and Interpretation – This is a two-year postgraduate course that can cost between INR 1,00,000 to INR 3,00,000 depending on the institution.
  4. Certificate courses in specific languages – These courses can vary in duration and cost depending on the language and institution. For example, a six-month certificate course in French can cost around INR 25,000 to INR 50,000.

Job Opportunities

There are numerous sectors and industries that have a demand for translator and or interpreter. Many of you can get jobs with publishing companies. But remember that permanent jobs are few with publishing companies.

You may get a job with the Central or State Government Ministries, departments, agencies and organisations. Most jobs are as Hindi Translator or as Bengali/Gujarati/Tamil/Telugu/Kannada/Malayalam/Assamese/Odiya Translator.

If you join as an Associate Translator, you will find job opportunities in Online Retail companies like Amazon, MNCs from non-English countries like Hyundai, Content agencies, Lawyer firms, Government agencies for sending official documents to different states in respective languages, cultural centres like Alliance Francoise, International Embassies, Hotels, Airlines and Tour Agencies.

If you join as an Associate Interpreter or Guide, you will find job opportunities in Travel agencies, Guide Agencies, embassies, MNCs, Political Parties, Government Ministries, NGPs. Educational Institutes, UN and its agencies.

You can also get a plenty of options as a freelance translator. You can work from home as a freelance translator.

Salary of a translator/Interpreter

  • At the entry level, you can earn a basic salary of Rs. 10,000 to 30,000 per month. 
  • At the junior level with a work experience of 2-6 years, you would be earning anything between Rs.20,000 to 50,000 per month. 
  • At the middle level with an experience of 10-12 years, you would be earning anything between Rs. 40,000 to 1,00,000 per month.
  • At the senior level of over 15 years of work experience, you would be earning anything between Rs. 55,000 to 1,50,000 per month.
  • In Government services, depending upon your ranks, you will earn between Rs. 28,000 to Rs. 1,60,000 a month.

Career Progression in translator/Interpreter profession 

You may join as an associate translator and then you will be promoted to senior translator and then as a sub-editor. There is more salary growth in this career than profile growth. As most off your career, you will be working as translator/ interpreter. With Government Ministries, departments, agencies, and organisations, you will begin in the Assistant or Junior Translator role (similar to lowed division clerk’s rank) and then progress as Senior Translator (similar to upper division clerk’s rank). You can reach upto the level of Section Head (Translation) or Departmental Head.

Hospitability Industry is one of the fastest growing industries in India and they have the biggest requirement for translators and interpreters. This industry accounts for 8% of total jobs in India (2017). There were over 41 million people employed in this industry. The industry is seeing growth in both international and domestic travellers, thus opening gates for millions of more people in this industry. In 2017, international tourist arrivals increased by 6% in India. With this trend, over 51 million people will be working in India in 2028 at an annual growth rate of 2%. Thus, there are good future opportunities for translators and interpreters in the hospitality industry.

Government careers, embassies careers are not market dependent but also, they do not have a big increment in demand and as such these careers would provide moderate job opportunities in future.

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