As China becomes a more influential player in the global economy, individuals possessing Chinese language proficiency are highly sought after to perform government jobs across multiple disciplines and in a variety of locations, both domestic and overseas. Chinese language speakers, particularly those who speak Mandarin, have a number of options when seeking employment with a government agency.
Chinese language interpretation requires the ability to simultaneously comprehend and translate spoken Chinese into another language. Interpreters play a vital role in numerous government settings, serving to enable trans-linguistic communication in diplomatic meetings and courtroom hearings, as well as to aid the Federal Bureau of Investigation in investigations of terrorism, organized and financial crime, drug trafficking and other crimes. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2010 the median annual salary of interpreters and translators was $43,300.
Chinese translators are employed to fulfill a role similar to that of the interpreter, but with emphasis on written communications. Government jobs in this field can be as straightforward as translating documents from Chinese into another language. However, they might also involve researching and analyzing Chinese-language sources that are crucial to policy-making, ongoing investigations and national security. Aspiring government translators, like interpreters, are typically subject to testing in the areas of listening, reading, writing and speaking.
Individuals who possess a BA in language, linguistics or a related field, as well as native fluency in Chinese and at least two years of teaching experience are well on their way to a job as a foreign language instructor for the Central Intelligence Agency. Chinese is one of a small list of languages for which the CIA is seeking instructors, who are responsible for both teaching and conducting proficiency testing in their language of expertise. CIA instructors are well-paid, with salaries ranging from $60,648 to $74,958 annually.
The United States has nine embassies, consulates, and diplomatic missions located in six Chinese cities and three Virtual Presence Post regions. These organizations require Chinese-speaking specialists in various fields of expertise. As of November 2013, U.S. embassies in China are seeking individuals proficient in both Chinese and English for positions in marketing, fraud investigation and security. In addition to language skills, candidates for embassy and consulate positions should possess a nuanced knowledge of governmental and cultural issues related to their fields of expertise.
2016 Salary Information for Interpreters and Translators
Interpreters and translators earned a median annual salary of $46,120 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, interpreters and translators earned a 25th percentile salary of $34,230, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $61,950, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 68,200 people were employed in the U.S. as interpreters and translators.