Top four highest-paying jobs for interpreters

Figuring out which career path will be the most rewarding regarding finances isn’t exactly the most straightforward task in the book. And for qualified and experienced interpreters, there’s no exception to that rule. Although linguistics and translation services are generally well-paid, four job avenues stand out as the highest-paying jobs for interpreters.

It’s worth mentioning that the income linguists can earn in various work areas differs depending on multiple factors, including experience and language pairs. In this post, we explore four of the most attractive professional avenues that qualified and experienced interpreters can pursue within (or outside of) the field of interpretation that’s guaranteed to see them earning rewarding salaries.

Top Careers for Interpreters to Pursue

Trying to find a specific language to specialize in may prove difficult, especially for a beginner who wants to ensure that they pursue the most lucrative career option. Diverse languages offer diverse job opportunities, both in the long and short run. Examining the highest-paid languages within the global marketplace is often the best way to determine what language and, subsequently, which career to focus on. Arabic language skills, for example, might help you earn a higher salary than German language skills, but this can vary depending on your area of specialization. 

Aside from language pair requirements, here’s a look at the four highest-paying jobs for interpreters:

1: Simultaneous Interpreting

One of the most specialized (and highest-paid) fields of interpreting is simultaneous interpretation. Within the language services industry, this is easily one of the most challenging areas of specialization. Requiring interpreters to listen, translate, and speak simultaneously to bridge language barriers can be a complicated role to get to grips with, which is also why we often see simultaneous interpreters work in teams. But hard work pays off, and professional interpreters in this line of business can easily take home up to $180,000 per year, depending on their area of focus, language combination, and experience levels.

2: Computational Linguist

If you’ve got a knack for IT and are qualified as a professional interpreter, this career option might spark your interest. Computational linguists are also IT experts that develop programs geared toward assisting computers with creating human language. You’ll need to be qualified and experienced with AI programming to translate the typed words into linguistics coding so that data can be translated into various languages. Many computational linguists also work on computer translation software that helps translate human languages from different source languages to new target languages. If you’ve mastered computer languages like Java and have in-depth knowledge of natural language processing, this field of work could see you earning an average salary of up to $118,500 per year.

3: Court Interpreter

Court interpreters are vital in helping limited-English-proficient people understand proceedings in a court of law in their native language. Since this role requires the interpreter to be familiar with the legal system and terminology in English and the target language, it is a very specialized area of work that requires razor-sharp focus and continual skills development. Legal interpreters work within courtroom settings and join lawyers at pretrial hearings and meetings to provide linguistic assistance to anyone not fluent in English. Although it is common for legal interpreters to be employed by the court, they can also be hired by private firms. Most subject matter experts earning upward of $80,000 per year work for private firms, especially immigration law firms that deal with many limited English proficient clients.

4: Technical Translator

Translators translate technical documents, including machinery operating instructions, into various languages. Since these professionals often have to translate industry-specific terms that do not have equivalents in other languages, they are tasked with creating new terminology when and where necessary. Since there is a high demand for language specialists that are native speakers of Mandarin, Japanese, Chinese, German, Korean, Italian, and Arabic, you could easily earn more than $70,000 per year if you’re fluent in two or more of these languages.

Final Thoughts

The highest-paying jobs for interpreters are consequently the most sought-after for anyone in the language and translation services industry. These roles offer high salaries and flexibility, making them very attractive to anyone with a linguistic background. 

Before you set off on the hunt for a rewarding career you can pursue with your interpreting credentials, you’ll need to reflect on your skill set and decide which area and language you’d like to focus on. The right language choice can open up a new world of possibilities for you and your career!


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