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Language Interpretation and Translation


Programs in language interpretation and translation teach people to change spoken or written words into a different language for readers or listeners.

Language interpretation and translation programs include topics such as:

The most common way to become an interpreter or translator is to get a certificate in the field. In this case, students receive their certificate in addition to getting a degree in another field (most commonly, a second language). In addition, many programs allow students to specialize in interpretation or translation as part of studying for a second language degree. Certificates and concentrations are offered at both the undergraduate and graduate level.


Community colleges offer certificate and associate degree programs in language interpretation and translation. A certificate program usually takes a year of full-time study. An associate degree usually takes two years to complete. After earning an associate degree students can transfer to a college or university for further study.

A few colleges and universities offer bachelor's degrees in language interpretation and translation. A bachelor's degree usually takes about four years of full-time study.

Several universities offer graduate degrees in language interpretation and translation. A master's degree typically requires two years of study beyond a bachelor's degree. Doctoral (PhD) degree programs usually require two or more years of study beyond the master's degree.

Independent language schools also offer training in language interpretation and translation. Their program requirements often vary with the language skills of each student. Native speakers with strong second-language skills may be able to work in translating and interpreting without long-term formal training.

See schools that offer this program.

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Program Admission

You can prepare for this program by taking courses in high school that prepare you for college. This typically includes four years of English, three years of math, three years of social studies, and two years of science. Some colleges also require two years of a second language.

Below is a list of high school courses that will help prepare you for this program of study:

Graduate Admissions

Admission to graduate programs is competitive. You need a bachelor's degree, good grades, and good test scores. You also must be able to speak, read, and write at least one second language at an advanced level.

Additional requirements at some schools include:

Typical Course Work

Program Courses

This program typically includes courses in the following subjects:

Things to Know

Study abroad is often encouraged or required for students who major in interpretation and translation.

A few nursing programs may offer medical translator and interpreter programs.

Many people with a language interpretation and translation degree work for the government. Government agencies that commonly use interpreters and translators are the FBI, CIA, and State Department. Large corporations with offices in several countries often also employ interpreters and translators.


East Side Area

Central Washington University

Walla Walla Community College

King-Snohomish Area

Bellevue College

Everett Community College

Highline College

Northwest University

Tri-Cities Area

Columbia Basin College

Yakima Area

Yakima Valley College