What is an Interpreter & a Translator? Courses, Career & Salary

With the process of globalization fast catching up, a plethora of lucrative career options have been thrown open for professionals proficient in foreign languages.

Academic qualifications in foreign languages helps in pursuing careers in the areas of tourism, entertainment, public relations and mass communication, international organizations, embassies, diplomatic service, publishing houses, BPO’s etc.

A profession in foreign language is an attractive proposition, for those who master foreign languages. Skills in foreign languages like French, German, Russian, Chinese and more recently Japanese, Spanish and Korean are in huge demand.

Interpreters require a thorough knowledge of the language, because they have to express spoken statements from one language to another, where as translators have to translate written documents, which needs outstanding writing skills in languages.

The growth prospects also vary from language to language. In governmental work, besides French, German, Spanish, Japanese etc, even smaller languages like Pushto, Uzbek, Tajik, Hebrew, and Portuguese etc have a huge demand now.

The job of an interpreter can be of varied types. They are engaged in real-time interpretation, which is used for meetings, conferences, speeches etc.

Here the interpreter listens to speeches from a soundproof room and almost instantly interprets the message in the target language into a microphone for the listeners.

There is one more type of interpreting called liaison interpreting or consecutive interpreting. It is required during in situations such as formal speeches when a speaker after conveying his/her message stops for a while and then the interpreter interprets the spoken speech to the audience.

Eligibility Criteria

There are 3 types of courses to pursue for a career in foreign languages, i.e.

  • Certificate course
  • Diploma course
  • Degree course

Some institutes offer both basic and advanced level courses such as postgraduate and PhD, some of them extending upto 5-6 years.


The eligibility for certificate and degree courses is 10+2. In most of the places eligibility for the diploma course is a certificate course in that language. Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi is a major institution conducting language courses.

For Japanese, there is a language proficiency test conducted by the Mombusho Scholars Association of India or Mosai and Alliance Françoise is the centre for conducting various French tests like the TEF or Test of Evaluation of French (required by the Canadian High Commission) awarded by the CCIP (Chambre de Commerce et d`Industrie de Paris), TCF (Test de Connaissance du Français) and TEF (Test d’Evaluation du Français).

The DELF /DALF tests and diplomas delivered by the French Ministry of Education are other exams conducted by the French Government. These days there are many websites which assist in learning a new language. Max Mueller Bhawan conducts classes to teach German as does Bhartiya Vidya Bhawan, New Delhi.

Career Scope & Job Prospects

With the globalization of Indian economy, multinational Companies are making a beeline for India and more and more companies going for joint ventures abroad, the job scenario for those having proficiency in foreign languages have been opened up.

Job prospects vary from secretarial, executive and public relation assignments as well as for translation and interpretation jobs. Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), Government of India recruits translators for various languages including Pushto and Tajik. The vacancies for these posts are advertised in the ‘Employment News’ from time to time.

Other opportunities in the field of foreign language include industries, publishing houses, and research organizations pertaining to defense studies. Many companies like the ones listed below are employing language experts

  1. HP
  2. Oracle
  3. Samsung
  4. Hyundai
  5. LG
  6. Thomson
  7. GE
  8. Aventis
  9. Moulinex

Attractive job offers awaits a foreign language specialist in the travel and tourism sector, hotel industry, exhibitions and fairs, airline offices, export agencies, radio stations, trade organizations and of course teaching.For pursuing a career in teaching, a teacher should be a graduate in that foreign language and must have a teaching degree.

Many indulge in freelancing also. Often, after pursuing courses in foreign languages, people like to work as freelancers. These people get work in translation bureaus, research organizations, international organizations like UNO, FAO, foreign companies, Reserve Bank of India, publishing houses etc.

Expertise in foreign language coupled with other additional qualifications in areas like management, tourism, hospitality industry, airlines can be even fruitful and better the chances for employment opportunities.

Top Colleges/Institutes for Translator/Interpreter Courses

1Central Translation BureauNew Delhi
2Annamalai UniversityChennai
3Himachal Pradesh UniversityShimla
4Pt.Ravishankar Shukla UnviersityRaipur
5Swani Ramanand Teerth Marathwada UniversityNanded
6University of PunePune
7Visvabharati UniversityShantiniketan
8University of HyderabadHyderabad
9The Centre for English And Foreign LanguagesHyderabad


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