For a long time, the United States relied upon its citizens and the world to communicate in English. English was considered to be the Lingua Franca, or common language, for all things government. A lot has changed in the past 20 years. Geo-politically, we have a greater need to speak and understand languages other than English as a means of national security. Domestically, as the citizens and residents of the United States become more diverse, our government is recognizing the importance of communicating in languages other than English as well.
With the War on Terror, international disturbances around the world, and the growth of cyber crime, language ability has become a hot commodity in government and military work. Foreign language speakers are needed for interpreting, translating, and monitoring. The difference between interpreting and translating comes down to whether the individual is converting spoken words (interpreting) or written words (translating). Because there is more and more content being created all the time, the need for translation services in the government is growing. To offset the cost of human resources, the government also makes use of machine translation technology. Especially where communications are not critical or there are massive amounts of information being monitored, it would be impossible to translate it all without the use of technology. More critical information or information that is going to the general public, like DMV manuals or census information, is translated by humans who are able to communicate the nuances of language and are more accurate than a machine can ever be.
Does a career in interpretation or translation with the government interest you? What are the qualifications for a job in this field? Most importantly, you need to be fluent in two or more languages and have strong writing skills in each language. While there are no requirements for a degree or certification, it is beneficial to have a degree in translation, language, linguistics or political science. Certification through the American Translators Association is also not a requirement but can help in some circumstances. Some schools offer translation or interpreting courses or certificate programs and classes that cover specific types of translation, including medical, business or legal.
What if you want to work for the government and work with translation and localization and don’t speak another language? There are plenty of opportunities to work in this field as a project manager or operational role where translation, interpretation and localization services are outsourced. LingPerfect Translations works across US government organizations to provide content for websites, communications and regulations and the government employees we work with don’t necessarily speak these languages, rather, they manage the process. Other employees that work with translators in the government space are content writers, curriculum creators and data scientists.
Clearly, there are many opportunities to work with the government in the field of translation and localization. If this is a field that interests you, you might want to take a peek at the https://www.usajobs.gov/.