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Spanish Translator Duties and Responsibilities

Daily job duties for Spanish translators vary, as they travel to different locations and provide translations for a wide variety of people in all sorts of environments. However, Spanish translators perform several core job duties no matter where they are, such as:

Provide Verbal Translations Spanish translators translate verbal communication in real time, delivering messages in both English and Spanish between multiple parties, reciting everything verbatim.They may also clearly and precisely read written documents out loud in both languages.

Write Written Translations Spanish translators create written translations of documents and messages, providing copies of documents in both languages.

Stay Invisible Spanish translators give perfect recitals of what they hear and read, and do not add extra words, expressions, or inflections to their translations. Spanish translators stay unobtrusive in the background so they are not really noticed.


Spanish Translator Skills and Qualifications

Spanish translators are professionals with excellent listening and verbal communication skills who provide precise and accurate translations while staying in the background of every conversation. Employers seek out Spanish translators who have all the following skills:
  • Spanish and English proficiency - Spanish translators must be completely fluent in both Spanish and English, with an extensive vocabulary in both languages
  • Grammar expertise - Spanish translators have excellent English and Spanish grammar skills to provide precise, sensible translations of both languages that are as close as possible to the speaker's actual word arrangement
  • Communication skills - Spanish translators use listening, verbal, and written communication skills in their daily job duties
  • Attention to detail - Spanish translators need good attention to detail to pick up every syllable and word of what they hear and read
  • Patience - because conversations and documents can be lengthy and complicated, Spanish translators need patience to provide precise translations and work for long hours at a time
  • Reading comprehension - Spanish translators need good reading comprehension skills to understand the words they read and translate them accurately into another language

Spanish Translator Education and Training

Most employers require Spanish translators to have a high school diploma or equivalent. Spanish translators must also pass a background check. Because of the amount of travel required for this career, Spanish translators need to have their own reliable transportation and a valid driver's license. Though no special education or training is required for this job, Spanish translators who have previous experience in a legal or social work environment are highly desirable to employers. Training is not provided for this job, as Spanish translators are required to already be bilingual and fluent in both Spanish and English.

Spanish Translator Salary and Outlook

Interpreters and translators earn a median income of $47,190 annually and $22.69 hourly. Data from PayScale shows that Spanish translators in particular earn a median hourly income of $18. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that jobs for interpreters and translators will increase 18 percent by 2026, job growth that is must faster than the average national rate. Because many Spanish translators work on a freelance basis, benefits are not typically offered with this job. Freelance Spanish translators are responsible for maintaining their own healthcare and life insurance needs, and schedule vacations based on the job opportunities they find and regular gigs they acquire. Employers who hire full-time Spanish translators may provide basic healthcare packages. Some employers reimburse Spanish translators for their travel expenses. Such expenses are tax deductible for professionals who do not receive other monetary reimbursement.

Helpful Resources

Use these books and websites to find certification programs and education resources, job opportunities and networking events, and useful career strategies and tips for Spanish translators:

American Translators Association - the ATA has a career center full of job opportunities, certification program resources, a calendar of upcoming networking and training events, and lots of other information for translators of every language

Word-for-Word English-Spanish Spanish-English Dictionary - this dictionary boasts more than 30,000 entries and is arranged in an easy-to-use format that provides straightforward vocabulary along with alternate spellings and translations

National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators - find news updates, networking events, conference dates, and a variety of career resources at this website dedicated to judiciary translators of all languages

Companion Book for Translators and Interpreters: The 1000+ Key English-Spanish Legal Terms You Will Need to Know - this resource book provides valuable information about legal terms translators need to know in both English and Spanish

National Association for Interpreters - the NAI has certification and training information, a career center, conference dates, and multiple resources for translators and interpreters of all languages

Introduction to Healthcare for Spanish-Speaking Interpreters and Translators - learn medical terminology in both English and Spanish to make healthcare-related translations possible. This book is designed in an accessible format to make it easy to find translations

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