Great Jobs KC

Community Interpreter

What is it?

A community interpreter plays a crucial role in bridging the communication gap between individuals who don’t share a common language. They work in community-based settings, facilitating communication primarily for limited-English speakers (LEP) to access essential public and social services. Here’s a breakdown of their key responsibilities:

Interpreting Spoken Language:

  • Simultaneous interpreting: This involves interpreting spoken language in real-time, allowing both parties to understand the conversation as it unfolds. This is commonly used in settings like meetings, conferences, or doctor’s appointments.
  • Consecutive interpreting: The interpreter listens to a segment of speech in one language, then conveys the message in the target language after the speaker finishes. This is often used in situations like legal proceedings or presentations.

Cultural Mediation:

  • Understanding cultural nuances: Beyond translating words, community interpreters need to be culturally sensitive and understand the cultural contexts of both languages they work with. This helps avoid misunderstandings and ensures accurate communication that considers cultural differences.
  • Facilitating respectful communication: They act as cultural mediators, promoting understanding and respect between individuals from different cultural backgrounds.

Areas of Work:

  • Healthcare: They assist patients with limited English proficiency in understanding medical diagnoses, treatment options, and communicating effectively with healthcare professionals.
  • Education: They help bridge the communication gap between parents, teachers, and students, ensuring everyone involved understands educational processes, progress reports, and school events.
  • Government services: They facilitate communication in government agencies, helping individuals with limited English proficiency access services, understand legal proceedings, and navigate bureaucratic processes.
  • Social services: They assist individuals in accessing social services like housing assistance, employment support, or legal aid, ensuring clear communication and understanding of their rights and available options.
  • Maintaining confidentiality: Translating sensitive information requires adhering to strict confidentiality standards, ensuring client privacy is protected.
  • Advocating for LEP individuals: In certain situations, community interpreters may advocate for the rights and needs of LEP individuals, ensuring they receive fair and equal access to services and opportunities.
  • Staying informed: They stay updated on relevant regulations, cultural trends, and changes in the communities they serve to effectively fulfill their roles.
  • Work setting: The specific tasks might differ slightly depending on the specific community they serve and the services offered in that setting (e.g., healthcare, education, legal aid).
  • Language combination: The languages they work with can influence their specific skillset and areas of expertise.
  • Level of experience: Entry-level interpreters might start with assisting experienced professionals in specific settings, while experienced interpreters might work independently, specialize in certain areas, or even mentor or train new interpreters.

* Salary Range

$43,000 - $70,300

(entry level – experienced)

* Regional Jobs Available


(3 year forecast)

Length of Training

4 weeks

Type of Training


Is it Right For You?

Here are some essential skills and qualities for success as a community interpreter:

  • Fluency in two or more languages: This is the foundation for accurate and nuanced interpretation. They should possess excellent comprehension and translation skills in both languages they work with.
  • Strong communication and interpersonal skills: Effective communication is crucial for accurately conveying messages, actively listening, and building trust with individuals from diverse backgrounds.
  • Cultural sensitivity and awareness: Understanding cultural nuances, beliefs, and values is essential for avoiding misunderstandings and promoting respectful communication across cultures.
  • Professionalism and ethical conduct: Maintaining confidentiality, adhering to professional standards, and acting with integrity are crucial qualities for building trust and ensuring ethical conduct in their work.
  • Ability to work independently and as part of a team: While some tasks require independent interpretation, collaboration with other professionals and effective teamwork are often necessary.

A career as a community interpreter offers a meaningful and rewarding path for individuals who are passionate about languages, possess strong communication skills, and value cultural diversity. They play a vital role in promoting equal access to essential services and empowering individuals to navigate unfamiliar situations in a new language environment.

* Pay Range Data: Occupational Employment Wages Statistics (OEWS). 2023-Q3.
* Demand: Forecast data is based off national projections provided by the BoLS and adapted for regional growth patterns by Chmura.