5 Key Differences Between Interpreters and Translators (Infographic)

Interpretation vs Translation: 5 Key Differences Interpreters and Translators (Infographic)

Success in a global world means that organizations must have the ability to communicate effectively with non-English speakers in their native language. In order to communicate in the languages your customers need, you may require language interpretation services, language translation services, or both. Interpreters and translators both have linguistic expertise, but the two roles are not the same. As an organization, how do you know which services you need?

While the two fields are both designed to communicate effectively with people for which there is a language barrier, interpretation and translation are not interchangeable. Let’s look at some of the similarities and differences between interpreters and translators to determine the needs of your organization.


Similarities between Interpreters and Translators

    • Both interpreters and translators work with a source language and a target language, meaning the language.
      Download the Free White Paper

      Download the Free White Paper!


    • Interpreters and translators must deliver a message from the source language to their target in the target language.


    • Interpretation and translation are both linguistic fields


    • Interpreters and translators require professional qualifications and expertise



Key Differences Between Interpreters and Translators

    1. Method: Interpreters must deliver a message orally (either consecutively or simultaneously) and translators work with written language to deliver their message in text.


    1. Delivery: Interpreters work in real time to facilitate communication, whereas Translation takes time for completion and can be started any time after a source text has been created.


    1. Expertise: Both interpreters and translators may have expertise in particular areas, but for a translator, this may mean that they are subject-matter experts. For an interpreter, this may mean special certification that allows them to interpret medical or legal terminology.


    1. Resources / Materials: While translators work with materials for translation, such as dictionaries, texts or CAT tools, interpreters are working in real time (live) without sources or aids.


  1. Direction: Translators translate one direction: From the source material to the target language. Interpreters translate in two directions: From the source language to the target language, and from the target language back to the source language.


INFOGRAPHIC: Key Differences Between Interpreters and Translators

*The following infographic highlights 5 major differences between interpreters and translators.


Share this Image On Your Site


There are more than 350 languages spoken in U.S. homes. So whether you have a global business or serve a local community, there may be a need to communicate effectively in other languages. Now that you understand the difference between interpreters and translators, you can begin to gain clarity on the scope of your organization’s needs. Do you need highly technical or sensitive documents translated or do you need to communicate with limited-English speaking customers verbally? Perhaps you need both interpretation and translation services to get your message to your target audience. A reputable language service provider can help you understand your needs and implement the proper language services tailored to your needs.

Telelanguage has been a trusted language services provider for over 29 years. Providing interpretation and translation services for over 8,000 organizations nationwide, our network of 5,000+ interpreters are superior trained and certified to fit your specific needs. Our translators are experienced and subject-matter experts. Have questions about interpretation and translation? Contact us today for more information or a free quote.

Professional Interpretation and Translation Services

Call Telelanguage Today at 888-983-5352

300+ Languages | Available 24/7/365