Adjusted for inflation, the median annual salary for translators and interpreters rose from $44,500 to $53,410 between 2004 and 2012, according to Labor Department data. The majority of full-time workers are freelancers, and they are paid by the word, ranging from 7 cents a word to 30 cents, depending on the language and specialization, according to association.
It’s a high-stakes, multibillion-dollar industry with tight deadlines, demanding clients and lives at risk. Any miscommunication could cause a deep financial loss or death. Some in the industry work in war zones, while others have cozy home offices. The business is language. And it’s booming.
The number of jobs for translators and interpreters doubled in the past 10 years, while their wages steadily grew before, during and after the recession. Jobs are expected to grow 46 percent between 2012 and 2022, according to the Labor Department, making it one of the nation’s fastest-growing occupations.
“Good translators who specialize in a particular subject and become really good at it can really make six-digit figures annually,” said Jiri Stejskal, spokesman for the American Translators Association. “The professional translators and interpreters ... they are pretty happy right now because the economy is good and the jobs are there.”
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