Note: Completion of a TAFE SA course does not guarantee an employment outcome. Formal requirements other than educational qualifications (eg licensing, professional registration), may apply to some occupations.

Job Prospects
Average; employment growth for this occupation is expected to grow moderately to 2014-15.
$28,000 - $35,000
Whenever two people that don't speak the same language need to communicate, there's a need for an interpreter.

There are approximately 500 interpreters working in South Australia. Interpreters work on average 39.2 hours per week compared to 42.1 hours per week for other occupations with the majority working in the Property and Business Services industry. Most persons in this occupation are females with the main age group between 45-54 years.

TAFE SA courses that may be relevant for: Interpreter

Accredited (Award)

  • Interpreters are involved with the translation of the spoken word from one language into another. They might for instance, interpret what someone speaking Japanese is saying into English and then interpret the message back from the English speaker to the Japanese speaker.

    A local interpreter who regularly interprets for the Department of Immigration says interpreters must abide by a code of ethics. This code states that they must not change the context of what is said. Even when interpreting for professionals, such as a doctor, interpreters must be able to appropriately interpret any terminology used. She also says that interpreters should ask the relevant speaker to clarify what has been said if the interpreter has not understood the full context of the message.

    Helping and Community Services

  • There are 51% of Interpreters who have Bachelor Degrees, 15% who have Post Graduate Degrees, 10% have Certificate I or II and 10% have Graduate Diplomas or Certificates. There are 8% with no post school qualifications but we recommend that you gain the available qualifications to get the best possible chance of employment.

    TAFE SA offers courses relevant to this occupation including the Advanced Diploma of Translating. Pathways include the Diploma of Translating and Diploma of Interpreting.

  • Interpreters can work for federal, state or territory government departments concerned with immigration, legal issues and law enforcement, social security and education. They are also employed by organisations such as hospitals, banks, tourist agencies and private interpreting and translating firms.

    Employment prospects for interpreters are fairly stable. The demand for certain languages are constantly changing and shortages may arise when suitably skilled people in minority community with language skills are limited. Recent immigration and refugee arrivals affect the need for interpreters as well as the levels of government funding for interpreting services and the general level of business activity.

    Many interpreting positions are part time or casual. Interpreters can also work on a freelance contract basis. Persons with NAATI accreditation may freelance and some highly qualified interpreters work at international conferences, and government and/or business meetings.

  • ''In my role at the hospital, I organise interpreter services for patients who need them. If they are Spanish or Italian speaking, I will do the interpreting. But I do not only work as a health interpreter. I am also a community interpreter. I assist migrants and Australians whose work requires that they are able to communicate with their non English speaking clients. I have also interpreted at business meetings and at conferences. "The great thing about interpreting is that you're presented with a vast range of situations. However, it can be very challenging and you do encounter some distressing situations, especially in a hospital environment," says a current interpreter.

  • These language specialists must be fluent and have an extensive vocabulary in at least two languages and be able to interpret on the spot. As important as it is for an interpreter to be able to speak different languages, its also essential that they understand cultural differences in order to be culturally sensitive. As interpreters work with a wide range of people, its important that they have good communication and interpersonal skills. They should be good listeners and have a good memory. They must also keep up with new words or terms that are introduced into the languages they interpret. Interpreters may opt to specialise in a particular area such as community, health or conference interpreting.

  • Interpreters are generally employed on a casual, part time or contract basis. They may find work in various State or Commonwealth government agencies, such as the Department of Immigration and Citizenship or Centrelink. They are also employed by hospitals, the Deaf Society and their skills are utilised by the business community. Interpreters usually register with a Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS).

    For further information, contact:

    National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (SA)
    Level 8, 170 North Terrace, Adelaide SA 5000
    Ph: (08) 8410 5233
    Fax: (08) 8410 5235

    Australian Institute of Interpreters and Translators Inc (National Office - VIC/TAS/SA/NT/WA)
    PO Box 193, Surrey Hills VIC 3127
    Ph: 1800 284 181
    Internet Address: