Community & Social Services


Interpreters convert one language to another, signed or spoken, usually in real time and in the presence of those needing to converse.

  • Entry-level education

    Bachelor’s degree

  • Job outlook

    1 2 3 4 5

What does an Interpreter do?

Interpreters convert one language to another, signed or spoken, usually in real time and in the presence of those needing to converse.


Work activities

As an interpreter, you might:

  • work in simultaneous interpreting, either speaking or whispering at the same time as someone is speaking or signing
  • take notes while listening to or watching speakers before presenting their interpretation
  • work at conferences, meetings and lectures
  • listen to proceedings through headphones in a soundproofed area
  • interpret what is being said and pass it through headsets to those in attendance
  • interpret speech back and forth at small gatherings
  • act as liaison and interpret for people accessing legal, health and local government services
  • ensure individuals understand what is being said
  • following speech use online or video technology and interpret.

Key skills and interests

To become an interpreter, you would need:

  • reading, writing and speaking fluency in one or more languages other than your mother tongue
  • a thorough understanding of how other languages are used, with colloquialisms and slang
  • excellent concentration and the ability to think quickly
  • knowledge of your specialised field
  • confidence for interpreting in public.

Working hours and conditions

Working Hours

In a full-time role, you would usually work standard business hours. Part-time work and flexible hours should be possible. Conference and meetings may take place in the evenings or weekends.

If working remotely you may be working on another country's time zone. If working in a liaison role, you may be on-call or called out during emergencies.

As a self-employed interpreter you could work the hours that suit you, often on a contract basis.


Places of work vary greatly. Conference interpreting usually involves a great deal of travelling. In public service interpreting you could work in local government offices, hospitals, immigration centres, law courts, police stations and prisons. Working from home, using internet based technologies, is becoming more common.


How to become an Interpreter?

Entry Level Education

To become an interpreter you would usually need to complete a bachelor's degree in a language or communication related field including translation studies, translating and interpreting, linguistics, speech and hearing sciences, speech-language pathology, language or literary studies, or related disciplines. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your senior secondary school certificate or equivalent. English, mathematics, and one or more foreign languages would be appropriate subjects to study prior to university.

After completing a bachelor's degree, you may then also undertake a post-graduate certification, diploma or master's qualification in interpreting.

To work as an interpreter, you would usually need to be accredited through The National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI).


Job outlook

  • 1 2 3 4 5

Employment of interpreters and translators is projected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations.

Employment growth will be driven by increasing globalisation, Australia's proximity to Asia, and by migration. Job prospects will be best for those who have professional accreditation.


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