If you enjoy learning and practicing other languages, you may have always assumed that this kind of linguistic exploration would remain a hobby—an outlet for exercising your curiosity about the world, a way to keep your brain on its toes, or maybe just a challenge!

But if you’re passionate about language, you can actually leverage that passion into an in-demand career—especially if you happen to have a good ear. If, for example, you’ve already taken the time to learn to speak Spanish, you might have a future as a Spanish interpreter.

What Is a Spanish Interpreter?

As you can probably gather from the phrase “Spanish interpreter,” a Spanish interpreter is a person who translates a given language into Spanish or Spanish into another language. The beauty of working as a Spanish interpreter is that you can facilitate meaningful, important conversations between people who would otherwise not be able to communicate with one another because they are not bilingual. 

A person might look to an interpreter for Spanish if they’re anticipating an exchange with a Spanish speaker, whether personal (for example, meeting a relative in a different country) or professional (think working with an artist or creator who doesn’t speak English). 

What Do Spanish Interpreters Do?

Here are a just few of the basic functions that a Spanish interpreter can fill:

Interpret Conversational Spanish

An interpreter might be asked to interpret Spanish in a verbal conversation between two people, one of whom speaks Spanish and the other who does not. In order to do this effectively, an interpreter should have a working knowledge of not only the standard Spanish language but also the casual expressions and idioms that might be used frequently in casual conversations.

It doesn’t hurt to be comfortable with cultural and behavioral norms as well.  

Bridge the Cultural, Conversational Gap

Whether the interpretation takes place for written or verbal language, it plays a key role in bridging communication gaps for people who would otherwise find it challenging to connect. Effective English to Spanish interpreters and Spanish to English interpreters are able to interpret without adding their own personal touches, facilitating clarity and ensuring maximum comprehension for all parties involved in the process.

Learn the Basics 

Spanish Course for Beginners (Easy and Fast Learning)

How to Become a Spanish Interpreter 

Learn Spanish!

The key to becoming a Spanish interpreter is, of course, fluency in Spanish and at least one other language. Anyone who is interested in translating between Spanish and English, for example, must have a mastery of both languages. Effective interpreters have a broad vocabulary and are comfortable with the gestures, behaviors, and expressions that often inform discussions in each language. 

In order to cultivate this mastery, some aspiring interpreters might secure a Spanish degree (more on that below), but there are other ways to develop fluency. You might consider pursuing extensive Spanish education through online classes, beginning with a Basic Spanish 101 class and working your way up to a more Advanced Spanish Course

Pursue a Degree

For a more formal education in the Spanish language, a Spanish degree will do the trick. Having a degree may be important for certain interpreter jobs, particularly in more professional settings. 

Whether you choose to become a Spanish interpreter by taking classes online or pursuing a Spanish degree, you’ll need to spend a lot of time practicing! The best interpreters are comfortable speaking, listening to, and translating the languages in which they work. 

Get a Certification

If you’d like to apply your translating skills in a more formal professional setting, you should plan to pursue a Spanish interpreter certification. If, for example, you’d like to work as a medical interpreter, you’ll need to be certified by the National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters. There is, however, no blanket certification required for all interpreters. 

A Spanish bachelor’s degree and some specific formal training might be required for you to test as an interpreter if your desired profession does, in fact, require a certification. Make sure you investigate those requirements as you’re deciding which route to pursue

How Long Does it Take to Become an Interpreter?

It really depends on how long it takes you to develop native-level proficiency. If you have a strong memory and a good ear for languages, the journey may be relatively quick. It’s also okay to take your time! Don’t rush the process. The more comfortable you are with speaking and translating Spanish, the more confident you’ll be when it comes time to look for jobs. 

Speaking of Spanish to English interpreter jobs and English to Spanish interpreter jobs… 

Spanish Interpreter Jobs

You can search for interpreter jobs on standard job posting sites such as Indeed. You might also explore local organizations that work with folks who speak and work with English and Spanish speakers who are not bilingual themselves. 

Here are a few places and employers where Spanish interpreters tend to be in-demand:

  • Schools
  • Hospitals
  • Courtrooms
  • Conference centers

Interpreter Salary 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for interpreters and translators in 2020 was $52,330 per year and $25.16 per hour.

Pursue Your Career as a Spanish Interpreter! 

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment of interpreters and translators will grow 20 percent between 2019 and 2029. It’s a great time to get into the biz! Become proficient in Spanish so that you can explore a rewarding career in the interpreting industry. 

Put Spanish Sentences Together

Sentence Making in Spanish

Written by:

Alli Hoff Kosik