How much does an interpreter make?

As a multilingual country, there are many well-paying opportunities for interpreters in Canada. Because there are so many different kinds of interpreters and sectors for them to work in, salaries and hourly rates depend on a number of things: skill, experience, and education of the interpreter; the environment in which the interpreter works; location; and type of employer or client.

General wages and salaries

According to 2009 Labour Force survey, the median hourly wage for interpreters, translators, and terminologists was $25.60. (That means that half of those employed in this occupation earned less than this amount and half earned more.) This is slightly higher than the median hourly wage for all occupations, which was $21.00. The same survey reported that the average hourly wage for occupations in the same category was $25.40. The approximate average salary is $50,000.

Where the jobs are

The largest sector for interpreters, translators, and terminologists is currently professional, scientific, and technical services. In February 2011, the reported average weekly earning in this sector was $1229.26.

The cities that employ the most interpreters are Ottawa, Montreal, and Toronto, but many interpreters live across the country.

Many interpreters are employed in public administration. The Translation Bureau is the largest employer of language professionals and hires full-time staff as well as freelancers. The organization supports government and Canada’s parliament, offering interpretation services in official, visual, Aboriginal, and foreign languages.

Things to consider:

  • The type and size of the employer, as well as the skill, education, and experience level of the interpreter, determine his/her full-time salary. Large corporation and government positions generally pay better than those in non-profit, community, and small business.
  • Geography is also a factor in how much an interpreter is paid. As is the trend with most occupations, people in densely populated areas tend to get paid more than those who don’t. Currently, the hourly average wages earned by interpreters, translators, and terminologists are highest in Montreal, Quebec ($34); and the lowest in Fredericton, New Brunswick ($14.04).
  • Because staff positions are limited, a significant percentage (31%) of people working as interpreters, translators, and terminologists are self-employed. The average for all occupations is 16%.
Published on December 5, 2011
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