How To Become A Translator Or Interpreter In Australia: Explained

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Students want to know how to become NAATI-certified translators or interpreters in Australia.


Do you love learning different languages while helping people? If yes, a career as a translator or interpreter could be perfect for you.


Translators and Interpreters are language and communication professionals who transfer source text from one language into another to help people understand the content.


You can become a Translator or Interpreter with a relevant VET qualification. However, completing a formal qualification can enhance your chances of finding work. You also need to be proficient in writing and speaking foreign languages fluently.


This blog is for all who aspire to become a Translator or Interpreter in Australia. Find out what this job entails – the daily duties, required qualifications and skills, employment prospects, average salary, and the study pathway to pursue the profession in Australia.



1. What Is An Interpreter?


An interpreter understands and translates the text or speech of one person into the other person's language to ease communication between two people.


They often work in a real-time capacity to provide instant translation between parties. This way, they bridge the language gap for their clients.


The job of an interpreter has widened beyond the traditional role. They help people fill out government forms in a non-native language.


Interpreters also translate technical material for companies to assist multiple development teams. They may even work as cultural experts to educate clients on norms and customs for a target market/location.



2. Tasks And Duties Of An Interpreter


Interpreters are likely to perform the following on a typical day at work:


  • Meet clients to discuss their work requirements.

  • Provide an accurate translation of signed and spoken languages between clients, using suitable language for each setting, such as courts, hospitals, workplaces, conferences, and schools.

  • Use simplification techniques for quick translation.

  • Attend meetings and conferences.

  • Assist with filing, documentation, and paperwork.

  • Explain cultural expectations and phrases.

  • Translate audio tapes or text to and from the target language and English. 



3. What Are Translators?


Translators are skilled professionals who convert written documents from one language into another while accurately maintaining the original documents' structure, feelings, and meaning.


Their primary purpose is to translate the content in a way that appears as the source material. Translators usually specialize in multiple languages and specific fields of work, such as law, health, commerce, science, technology, or literature.


They usually work in academic, government, and commercial settings with documents for broader consumption. Some translate brochures, advertisements, memos, application forms, books, novels, terminology lists, business letters, and presentations.


Other translation work: technical drawings, scientific articles, operation procedures, legal texts, manuals, and varied electronic data, and supply subtitles for TV programs and films.


Besides translation, they also educate their clients on the history, customs, and culture of the people with whom the client wants to communicate.



4. Tasks And Duties Of A Translator


  • Meet clients to comprehend briefs.

  • Provide a timeline and quotes based on the complexity and length of the source.

  • Listen/read the source material to understand its context and meaning.

  • Use reference guides and online translation tools to transform online or recorded source material into another language.

  • Consult with subject matter experts.

  • Comply with industry standards.

  • Respond to the queries of customers and businesses regarding different languages and cultures.

  • Instantly interpret and convert vast amounts of original written/spoken material from one language to another.

  • Ensure the terminology and phraseology in legal, scientific, and technical texts are precisely translated.

  • Revise other translators' work, and identify and solve misinterpretations of meaning quickly and tactfully while preserving neutrality.

  • Keep the translations confidential as per the client's requirements.




5. Translator And Interpreter Skills


To become a translator, you need fluency in written English and reading comprehension of at least one more language. Additionally, you must have detailed knowledge of the subject matter to produce a good translation.


Below are the desirable personal requirements or traits for becoming a successful translator/interpreter.


  • Emotional intelligence

  • Able to stay calm under pressure

  • Resilience

  • Exceptional language skills with an extensive vocabulary

  • Able to think on their feet 

  • Good people and communication skills

  • Strong cultural awareness

  • Excellent command of written English, and LOTE (Language other than English) 

  • Perfect note-taking skills

  • Strong work ethics

  • Able to work precisely and objectively

  • Initiative-taking abilities

  • Research skills

  • Professional and impartial

  • Able to maintain confidentiality

  • Broad general knowledge 



6. Interpreter Qualifications In Australia


The National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI) is the professional body that sets the standard for Interpreters in Australia. 


Though you don't need formal qualifications to pursue this profession, becoming NAATI certified may be beneficial when applying for a job. 


Here is how you can become an interpreter in Australia:




7. What Qualifications Do I Need To Become A Translator?


You don't necessarily need formal qualifications to work as a professional Translator in Australia. However, as the work focuses on language skills, it is beneficial to undertake a relevant degree or VET course to develop language knowledge and skills.


  • Gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education

  • Become a NAATI-Certified Translator by completing a NAATI-endorsed course, such as a 1-year Advanced Diploma of Translating or a 3-year full-time Bachelor's degree in Interpreting and translation. Completing these courses qualifies you to work as a translating practitioner in Australia.

  • Advance your learning with a relevant post-graduate course, like a Master of Applied Linguistics that requires an undergraduate degree or significant relevant work experience as an entry requisite.

  • Prove your English proficiency by taking a formal test or completing an undergraduate degree that fulfils the NAATI English proficiency requirements.

  • Pass an Intercultural and Ethical Competency test and the NAATI test to become a NAATI-certified translator.

  • Become a member of industry associations like the Australian Institute of Interpreters and Translators for networking opportunities, industry support, and ongoing professional development.


The NAATI accreditation levels range from Paraprofessional Translator and Professional Translator to Advanced Translator. The minimum accreditation level that NAATI recommends in Australia is the "Professional Translator level".


Related Industry bodies:




8. Where Can I Find A Job As A Translator Or Interpreter In Australia?


Interpreters usually work in various settings such as business, community, arts, legal, and media. Most of them work self-employed or as contractors, freelancers, and casuals.


Organizations such as banks, tourist agencies, private Interpreting and translating firms, and hospitals hire translators on a contractual or freelance basis.


Permanent jobs in this profession are limited. However, you can find them in federal, state, and territory government departments related to defence, immigration, law enforcement, academics, finance, and social security.


Services Australia is a platform connecting linguistically, culturally and diverse customers to certified interpreters providing interpreter and translation services.


Currently, the platform has a national panel of more than 2,000 contracted interpreters and translators who provide world-class translations for almost all languages, including Indigenous languages and Auslan.


This platform is open to all passionate and dedicated Australian language professionals with NAATI interpreter translator credentials and relevant work experience who seek employment opportunities.


To join their panel, you need to register your interest. You can send an email to Make sure you specify your details, communication details, the type of service you offer, NAATI Certification Practitioner Number, and relevant work experience.


TIS National is another good platform that offers career-building opportunities to all capable Interpreters in Australia. It provides interpreting services to more than 60,000 clients, including the Department of Home Affairs.



Their Clientele and Agencies Operate In The Following Segments:


  • Emergency services

  • Government departments

  • Medical and health practitioners

  • Telecommunications companies

  • Legal services

  • Utility services

  • Community service and Settlement providers



Types of Interpreting Assignments They Offer:


  • Pre-booked and instant phone assignments.

  • Video-based remote interpreting assignments

  • On-site assignments


The location and length of assignments may vary based on the type of client you are serving.


Interested candidates can refer to the TIS National website for more details on the eligibility criteria for applying for jobs.



9. How Much Is An Interpreter Paid In Australia?


The average Interpreter salary in Australia is AU$55,364 per year or equivalent to AU$25.30 per hour.


Your salary increases as you gain experience and expertise in a specific field. The average medical interpreter's salary in Australia is $79,333, the equivalent of $38 per hour.


  • Entry-level Interpreters (< 1-year experience): AU$24.44 per year 

  • Early career Interpreters (1-4 years of experience): AU$25.08 per year 

  • Mid-career Interpreters (5-9 years of experience): AU$25.60 per year 

  • Experienced Interpreters (10-19 years of experience): AU$32.60 



You can Expect a Higher Salary in Certain Cities In Australia


  • Wetherill Park: $67,520 per year

  • Brisbane: $61,666 per year

  • Mackay: $61,345 per year

  • Sydney: $59,801 per year

  • Cairns: $57,771 per year

  • Rydalmere: $56,772 per year

  • Revesby: $55,787 per year

  • Newcastle: $54,437 per year



10. How Much Does A Translator Earn In Australia?


According to PayScale, the average salary for a Translator is AU$63,556 per year or an hourly equivalent of AU$25.00. Like Interpreters, the more experienced you become, the more likely you are to draw higher pay than junior-level translators.


In addition to experience, your earnings also depend on the number of assignments clients accepts, the type of clients you serve, your area of specialization, and the place of work. As a translator works on a variable number of projects and for varied clients, their salary also varies each pay cycle.


The most successful and well-paid translators in Australia work for overseas clients using modern technology to collaborate.



The Estimated Salary Based on Your Experience


  • Entry-level Translators: AU $20.84 per hour

  • Early career Translators: AU $25.43 per hour

  • Mid-career Translators: AU $30.00 per hour



Experienced Translators


  • AU $40.00 per hour.  



The Highest-Paying Cities For Translators


  • Sydney: $96,112 per year

  • Melbourne: $93,611 per year

  • Westmead: $90,813 per year

  • Port Melbourne: $77,611 per year

  • Campbelltown: $55,707 per year

  • Werrington: $47,822 per year

  • Bankstown: $47,822 per year



11. Work Conditions For Interpreters


Based on the type of work, interpreters might work indoors and outdoors. They may work in an office environment, research galleries or museums, follow camera crews to provide on-the-spot radio and TV translations, and travel with government officials and diplomats.


Though they mostly do face-to-face Interpreting right on the spot, they may also do remote Interpreting using audio technology during conferences.


As translators work with various clients, it is not easy to calculate the average work hours. Their work schedule is generally flexible as clients may call them anytime in the day due to different time zones or urgent issues.


They may also need to travel to remote places as required by clients.



12. Job Prospects For Translators And Interpreters In Australia


Translation and Interpreters are rewarding fields that will stay in high demand for many years. There are numerous job opportunities for translators in various sectors, including not-for-profit, commercial, academic, and government settings.


When considering the steady migration of non-English speaking migrants to Australia, the demand for interpretation and translation services will only continue to grow in Australia. 


According to Labour Market Insights, the demand for certified interpreters is highest in South Australia and Victoria, with most working in the Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services industries.



Working Arrangements


Around 22% of employed Interpreters work full-time hours for an average of 41 hours per week. (All jobs average: 44 hours per week).



Major Industries


  • Professional, Scientific, And Technical Services: 52.5%

  • Health Care And Social Assistance: 18.7%

  • Public Administration And Safety: 12.1%

  • Education And Training: 9.1%

  • Other Industries: 5.3%



Percentage Of Employment Across Australia


Victoria has a large share of employment relative to its population size.


  • New South Wales: 29.2%

  • Victoria: 32.6%

  • Queensland: 15.9%

  • South Australia: 9.2%

  • Western Australia: 8.5%

  • Tasmania: 1.7%

  • Northern Territory: 1.7%

  • Australian Capital Territory: 1.2%



Worker's Age and Gender Profile


  • The average age of Interpreters is 50 years, with most of them between 45 and 54 years (All jobs average: 40 years).

  • Females constitute 67% of the workforce which is 19 percentage points more than the average of all jobs, 48%.



Working Arrangements


Around 41% of employed Translators work full-time for an average of 43 hours per week. (All jobs average: 44 hours per week).



Major Industries For Employment


  • Professional, Scientific, And Technical Services: 66.1%

  • Public Administration And Safety: 6.8%

  • Health Care And Social Assistance: 4.4%

  • Education And Training: 3.6%

  • Other Industries: 14.1%



Percentage Of Employment Across Australia


Victoria and New South Wales are the cities with the largest share of employment.


  • New South Wales: 35.1%

  • Victoria: 29.0%

  • Queensland: 17.3%

  • South Australia: 5.9%

  • Western Australia: 6.4%

  • Tasmania: 1.5%

  • Northern Territory: 1.1%

  • Australian Capital Territory: 3.8%



Worker's Age and Gender Profile


  • Average Age: 47 years, with most of them working between 45 and 54 years (All Jobs Average: 40 years)
  • Female Share: 64% (All Jobs Average: 48%)



13. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)



How Do I Become A Translator or Interpreter in Australia?


Follow the below steps to start your career as an Interpreter/Translator:


  • Study the language/s that interests you and is in high demand


  • Decide whether you want to work as a freelance, full-time, or part-time at any agency. It will give you an idea of your job prospects and the type of continuing education you might need to pursue.


  • Besides solid language skills, you must study a bachelor's degree in your desired language or an interpreter course to develop expert writing skills to convey the information accurately.


  • Consider completing NAATI-endorsed courses and passing the certification test to become a certified translator/interpreter and boost your employability for the role. NAATI conducts the following certification tests for hopeful translators/interpreters: Recognized Practising, Certified Translator, Certified Provisional Interpreter, Certified Provisional AUSLAN Interpreter, Certified Provisional Deaf Interpreter, Certified Interpreter, Certified AUSLAN Interpreter, and more.


  • As Translation/Interpretation is diverse, you need to get skilled in a specific industry such as medicine, finance, law or government, etc. Each has its industry-specific terminology, so you must learn the appropriate language of the industry you want to work in to deliver work per the expectations.


  • Develop work experience by working on a volunteer basis, providing freelance services to your family and friends. Not just it helps you showcase your skills in real-world scenarios but exposes you to cultural context.


  • With the relevant skills, experience, and certification, it is time to search and apply for jobs. Look for open job positions in translation agencies, government agencies, law firms, or other organizations that regularly hire translators and interpreters across a range of common languages.



How To Become an Interpreter In Victoria, Australia?


You can consider taking the following NAATI- endorsed courses that will help you prepare for an Interpreter's role in Australia.


  • Diploma in Languages – The University of Melbourne

  • Advanced Diploma of Interpreting (PSP60916) – RMIT University


Upon completion of the course, apply for a NAATI certification and pass the certification test to become a licensed translator/interpreter and offer your paid services in Australia.



How Long Does It Take To Become an Interpreter?


Starting from finishing school, it may take you between 4 and 5 years to become a certified Interpreter. This time is required to get qualified and develop proficiency in one or more languages.


To improve your job prospects, and start working sooner, consider mastering more than one language. It will look great on your resume and give you a competitive edge over other entry-level applicants.



How Long Does It Take To Become a Translator In Australia?


Entry requirements generally vary from one provider to another. The average duration of a translator qualification course – Diploma in Languages – at the University of Melbourne is one year full-time / 2 years part-time.


Alternatively, you can study for a bachelor's degree in Interpreting and Translation, which will take you three years of full-time study after your Year 12 education.



14. Conclusion


A career as a translator or interpreter is an incredibly flexible career path, as it allows you to work either from home or for an agency. 


Any high school graduate with a talent for language, with plenty of life experience, and who wants to monetize their language abilities can pursue and succeed in this profession.


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