Career Information Hotline

Toll Free 1-800-661-3753

Edmonton 780-422-4266

Guest Account Sign In Sign Up

Language Interpreter

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

  • Avg. Salary $64,905.00
  • Avg. Wage $32.17
  • Minimum Education 4 years post-secondary
  • Outlook N/A
  • Employed < 1500
  • In Demand Lower
Also Known As

Cultural Interpreter, Interpreter, Language Specialist

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

Average Wage
  • Certification Not Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
NOC & Interest Codes
The Language Interpreter is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
NOC code: 5125.3

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


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


Interest in speaking to facilitate communication between individuals with differing languages

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 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 More

Updated Mar 31, 2016

Language interpreters may translate during pauses in a monologue (consecutive interpretation) or interpret immediately as words are spoken at conferences and meetings (simultaneous interpretation via headphones). Simultaneous interpreters generally work in teams, each person working for 20-minute periods during a session.

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

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

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2016

Language interpreters often work evenings and weekends to provide services at conferences and meetings.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Mar 31, 2016

Language interpreters need the following characteristics:

  • able to articulate and respond quickly
  • inquisitive and interested in researching information 
  • meticulous
  • creative and adaptable
  • good interpersonal skills.

They should enjoy variety, work that requires precision and working with people.

Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2016

Language interpreters should have training and experience in written translation prior to training in interpreting (for more information, see the Translator occupational profile). A bachelor's degree in 1 or more languages is recommended. 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 require at least 2 languages in addition to their mother tongue. Studying or living in Europe is excellent preparation for employment with international organizations.

The University of Ottawa offers the only interpreter training program in Canada. Entrance requirements include a related university degree, certificate or diploma relevant experience; accreditation from a professional association of translators or interpreters, or equivalent work experience; and successful completion of an entrance exam.

The Association of Translators and Interpreters of Alberta (ATIA) offers certification for court interpreters.

Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

Athabasca University

Concordia University of Edmonton

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2016

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

  • at meetings and conferences
  • in courts of law or legal hearings
  • during visits by foreign dignitaries
  • during medical or psychological assessments
  • accompanying trade delegations
  • for government translation bureaus.

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

Language interpreters are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 5125: Translators, terminologists and interpreters. In Alberta, 78% of people employed in this classification work in the following industries:

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

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

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2016

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.

Translators, terminologists and interpreters
NOC code: 5125

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $30.00 $33.76 $30.21 $30.00
Overall $31.11 $41.71 $32.17 $31.11
Top $35.00 $42.79 $35.77 $35.00

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.

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.

Industry Information
Public Administration

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years


Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties


Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months


2015 Vacancy Rate

Related High School Subjects
  • English Language Arts
  • Languages (other than English)
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Humanities and Languages
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 31, 2016

Association of Translators and Interpreters of Alberta (ATIA) website:

Canadian Translators, Terminologists and Interpreters Council (CTTIC) website:

For more information on career planning, education and jobs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

Updated Mar 25, 2016. 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.

Was this page useful?