According to 2000 U.S. Census data, nearly 47 million people who live in the U.S. speak a language other than English at home.

That’s a huge group of potential customers, and myriad corporations seek to capture their consumer spending power, notes Nataly Kelly, a former court interpreter and the author of a book, Telephone Interpreting: A Comprehensive Guide to the Profession. “As a result, there’s an enormous demand for bilingual skills in today’s job market,” Kelly says.

There are many opportunities for home-based work in translation, which involves the written word, or interpreting, which involves the spoken word. You could set up shop at home as a freelancer or consultant, or look for telecommuting opportunities with companies that require employees with bilingual skills.

Before you pursue either course of action, get proof of language proficiency in both Spanish and English, Kelly advises. “This can be obtained through certified tests that are conducted by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, the most widely recognized testing body in the U.S. The ACTFL tests are the most valid and reliable tests available, and they have been used for decades by many Fortune 500 companies, as well as federal and state government agencies,” she says. This agency in New York only uses translators that pass their strict requirements

For more information, contact the American Translators Assn., a professional group with nearly 10,000 members. The ATA offers a certification program for document translation.

Photo by MaxMilli0n.

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