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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: Interpreters (5125.3) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Translators, Terminologists and Interpreters (F025) 
  • 2011 NOC: Translators, terminologists and interpreters (5125) 
  • 2016 NOC: Translators, terminologists and interpreters (5125) 
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

Duties
Updated Mar 31, 2019

Language interpreters translate one language to another. In consecutive interpretation, they provide a translation when a speaker pauses. In simultaneous interpretation, they interpret the words immediately as they are spoken.

Simultaneous interpreters work in teams. Each person works for 20-minute periods during conferences and meetings. They provide services at international summits, professional seminars and other events where bilingual or multilingual communication is crucial. Ideally, language interpreters should have advance access to the text they will interpret to help them prepare for their assignments beforehand.

In addition to translating spoken words, interpreters may provide background cultural information. They may also 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 31, 2019
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg

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

Telephone service is becoming more popular. Although it is convenient, it also adds challenges. For example, body language clues are not visible and therefore cannot be interpreted.

Traits & Skills
Updated Mar 31, 2019

Language interpreters need:

  • Creativity and adaptability
  • An aptitude for languages
  • Attention to detail
  • 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
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2019
  • 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 31, 2019
  • 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 31, 2019

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
  • 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 are employed by international or national institutions, governments, or large companies.

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 (pdf) 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.

In Alberta, the 5125: Translators, terminologists and interpreters occupational group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 1.8% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 39 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: Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2019

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.

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
$39.63
Per Hour
Average Salary
$35,127.00
Per Year
Average Hours
29.2
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
11
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

Source
2019 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
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $18.00 $45.00 $38.67 $45.00
Overall $18.45 $45.00 $39.63 $45.00
Top $23.94 $45.00 $40.82 $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
Public Administration
ALL INDUSTRIES

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

56%
56%)

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 31, 2019

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 31, 2019. 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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