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Language Interpreter

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

  • Avg. Salary $12,109.00
  • Avg. Wage $35.24
  • Minimum Education 4 years post-secondary
  • Outlook N/A
  • Employed < 1500
  • In Demand Lower
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: Interpreters (5125.3) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Translators, Terminologists and Interpreters (F025) 
  • 2011 NOC: Translators, terminologists and interpreters (5125) 
Interest Codes
The Language Interpreter is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).

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.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2016

Certification is not required, as there is currently no legislation regulating this occupation.

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.

Language interpreters are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 5125: Translators, terminologists and interpreters.

According to the 2017 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Translators, terminologists and interpreters occupational group earned on average from $34.71 to $39.64 an hour. The overall average was $35.24 an hour. For more information, see the Translators, terminologists and interpreters wage profile.

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 call the Alberta Supports Contact Centre toll-free at 1-877-644-9992 or 780-644-9992 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Supports 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.

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