By: Contributor On: July 9, 2010 In: Academics, College Classes, Translation Comments: 0

The Need For Young Interpreters & Translators

Although the related fields of translation and interpreting are becoming more and more important, it is an area in which a relatively small percentage of younger professionals work. Indeed, looking at the different age groups of practicing interpreters, we see that according to the 2010 study The Interpreting Marketplace: A Study of Interpreting in North American Commissioned by Interpret America (carried out by Common Sense Advisory) those 58 years of age and older comprise 22% of all interpreters, while those under the age of 28 constitute only 5%.

Furthermore, the field of Spanish/English foreign language translation and interpretation was named among the top 10 “hottest career options for recent and mid-career college graduates” in a recent study by the University of California-San Diego: Hot Careers for College Graduates 2010.

According to the latest edition of the Occupational Outlook Handbook from the US Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment growth in the United States for this field is projected to increase by 22 percent between 2008 and 2018.

The BA Program at Northwestern

One of the reasons for the lack of younger interpreters and translators is a lack of baccalaureate programs in translation and interpreting. Although there are many certificate programs, there are only a few degree granting programs at the undergraduate level.

As such, Northwestern College, located in Orange City, Iowa, and its new B.A. in Translation and Interpreting, hopes to address this situation. Because of the college’s relatively small size, students will receive individual attention and will have ample time to practice in the program’s modern facilities.

The four year program is designed for bilingual students who would like to become professional interpreters and/or translators while acquiring a Liberal Arts education – key to becoming successful, well-rounded professionals. In addition to a wide range of general education courses required for graduation, students will take interpreting and translation courses all four years, with specific course sequences focusing on interpreting and translation.

The program provides ample hands-on opportunities for practicing what is learned in the classroom, both on the college campus and in the surrounding communities. During the senior year, students will participate in a practicum in the community as a capstone feature of the program.

How It Translates

As the aging population of interpreters and translators suggests, and as the market need increases, now is the opportune time for young people bilingual in Spanish and English to maximize their potential and join the ranks of a growing profession that is increasingly vital.


About Piet Koene: Piet is the assistant professor of Spanish, translation, and interpreting at Northwestern College. Northwestern College is a four-year, accredited, liberal arts college with an undergraduate, residential environment. Located in Orange City, Iowa, approximately 1,250 students study at Northwestern, coming from across the United States and from more than 20 countries. With a student/faculty ratio of 14 to 1 and small class sizes, Northwestern College has been ranked as a top-5 Midwestern comprehensive college by U.S. News & World Report and was included in the top 15% of the nation’s colleges and universities by

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