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Language Interpreter

Language interpreters translate the spoken word from one language to another.

Also Known As

Cultural Interpreter, Interpreter, Language Specialist

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used.

Here is how this occupation has been classified over time.

2006 NOC

  • 5125.3: Interpreters

2006 NOC-S

  • F025: Translators, Terminologists and Interpreters

2011 NOC

  • 5125: Translators, terminologists and interpreters

2016 NOC

  • 5125: Translators, terminologists and interpreters

2021 NOC

  • 51114: Translators, terminologists and interpreters

2023 OaSIS

  • 51114.03: Interpreters
Duties
Updated Mar 22, 2023

Language interpreters translate, as closely as possible, from one language to another.

In consecutive interpretation, they translate when a speaker pauses. The interpreter at times may interrupt the speaker in order to repeat, clarify, or rephrase, in order to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the message.

In simultaneous interpretation, they interpret the words immediately as they are spoken. These interpreters work in teams. Each person works for 20-minute periods during conferences and meetings. Language interpreters provide services at international summits, professional seminars, and other events where real-time bilingual or multilingual communication is crucial. Ideally, language interpreters should have advance access to any written text they will interpret, to help them prepare for their assignments beforehand.

Interpreters also perform a sign translation, which is the conversion from written material in one language to a spoken version in another language. It also occurs when an instant oral version is required for a written text.

In addition to translating spoken words, interpreters may provide background cultural information. They may identify and resolve conflicts related to the meaning of words, concepts, practices, or behaviour.

For information on sign language interpreters, please see the Sign Language Interpreter occupational profile.

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 22, 2023
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg

Language interpreters often work within regular office hours, but they sometimes work evenings and weekends.

Telephone or video remote services are becoming more popular. Although they are convenient, they also add challenges. For example, body language clues are not visible during a phone conference call, and therefore cannot be interpreted. And a stable internet connection is required for video sessions.

Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Interpreters

2006 NOC: 5125.3

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group
METHODICAL

Interest in listening to speakers or reading from texts in order to interpret statements made during speeches, meetings, conferences, debates and conversation, or in court or before administrative tribunals

INNOVATIVE

Interest in analyzing information when listening to and watching the source language, in processing the content, meaning, context and affect, and in reproducing messages simultaneously, or consecutively

social

Interest in speaking to facilitate communication between individuals with differing languages

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 

It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective, and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes for this NOC group is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn About Interests

Abilities

Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Traits & Skills
Updated Mar 22, 2023

Language interpreters need:

  • Creativity and adaptability
  • An aptitude for languages
  • Attention to detail
  • Judgement of how best to convey meaning
  • Emotional resilience
  • Interpersonal and active-listening skills
  • The ability to articulate and respond quickly
  • The ability to adopt the delivery, tone, and convictions of various speakers
  • Good short-term memory
  • Curiosity and an interest in researching information

They should enjoy:

  • Variety
  • Precision
  • Working with people

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Top 10 Skills Employers Are Looking For

Translators, terminologists and interpreters

2016 NOC: 5125

This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 105 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Sep 13, 2022 and May 16, 2024.

Review these skills to learn:

  • Whether or not this occupation matches your skill set
  • What training you may need to get these skills
  • What skills to highlight in your resumé, cover letter, and interview.
Experience: Will train
Experience: 1 to less than 7 months
Own Tools/Equipment: Cellular phone
Tasks: Interpret for persons speaking an Aboriginal or foreign language
Tasks: Interpret language for individuals and small groups
Construction Specialization: Excellent oral communication
Construction Specialization: Accurate
Construction Specialization: Excellent written communication
Tasks: Interpret oral communication from one language to another aloud or using electronic equipment
Own Tools/Equipment: Internet access
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 22, 2023
  • Minimum Education 4 years post-secondary

There is no required education to become a language interpreter. However, interpreters often work without the benefit of written resources, so accredited training and qualifications are essential. A bachelor’s degree in 1 or more languages is recommended. The ability to read and write in their alternative languages is also an asset. The best practical training for interpreters is to spend a considerable length of time living in the culture of the targeted language.

European standards for translators and interpreters stipulate at least 2 languages in addition to their mother tongue. Studying or living in Europe is excellent preparation for employment with international organizations.

In Canada, the University of Ottawa and York University offer a master's degree in conference interpreting. For a current list of interpreter training, see the International Association of Conference Interpreters (AIIC) website.

Bilingualism or fluency in 1 or more languages other than English is a prerequisite for training programs.


To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 22, 2023
  • Certification Not Regulated

Certification is not required, as there is currently no legislation regulating this occupation. However, voluntary certifications are available from the Association of Translators and Interpreters of Alberta (ATIA).

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 22, 2023

Few interpreters, other than those in government, are employed on a full-time or part-time basis. Language interpreters generally work freelance.

They may work:

  • At meetings and conferences
  • In courts of law or legal hearings
  • During visits by foreign dignitaries
  • During medical or psychological assessments
  • When accompanying trade delegations
  • For government translation bureaus

Advancement generally takes the form of building a more extensive client base.

Conference interpreters provide services for international and national organizations or business and academic clients who require seamless communication across languages and cultures. While most are freelance, some work for international or national institutions, governments, or large companies.

Industry Concentration

This section shows the industries where the majority of people in this occupation work. The data is based on the 2016 Census.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups.

In the 5125: Translators, terminologists and interpreters occupational group, 84.4% of people work in:

Employment Outlook

Employment outlook is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation
  • Trends and events that affect overall employment, especially in the industry or industries from the previous list

In Alberta, the 5125: Translators, terminologists and interpreters occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 2.6% from 2021 to 2025. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 23 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Note
NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: 2021-2025 Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Related Alberta Job Postings
Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 22, 2023

Freelance interpreters charge hourly fees that depend on their education, background, and area of specialization. Annual incomes vary from 1 interpreter to another and may vary from 1 year to another. However, in general, conference interpreters earn more than court interpreters.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Translators, terminologists and interpreters

2016 NOC: 5125
Average Wage
$43.78
Per Hour
Average Salary
$68,225.00
Per Year
Average Hours
30.2
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
12
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

Source
2021 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 5125 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production), and other forms of compensation.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

C: Lower Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Lower Reliability, represents a CV of between 15.01% and 33.00% and/or if fewer than 20 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 33% of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $33.81 $45.00 $43.59 $45.00
Overall $33.81 $45.00 $43.78 $45.00
Top $33.81 $45.00 $43.81 $45.00

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

Industry Information

ALL INDUSTRIES
Public Administration

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years
N/A
Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties
N/A
Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months
N/A
Vacancy Rate
N/A
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Humanities and Languages
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 22, 2023

Association of Translators and Interpreters of Alberta (ATIA) website: www.atia.ab.ca

Canadian Translators, Terminologists and Interpreters Council (CTTIC) website: www.cttic.org

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 22, 2023. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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