An interpreter is a person who puts his knowledge of multiple languages to use in his work. As an interpreter, or translator, he can translate spoken or signed communication from one language to another, translate written text and documents, or both. The government employs interpreters at all levels for a variety of translating purposes, from high-level negotiations to criminal interrogations and more.
The average annual salary for an interpreter or translator across all levels of government was $45,100, as of May 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Out of the 47,950 interpreters employed nationwide, 18,990 were employed in government. Their wage was 11 percent below the overall average of $50,610 for the profession.
The 450 interpreters employed by the federal government, as of May 2011, earned a mean annual wage of $75,150, according to the BLS. This was 67 percent higher than the average government interpreter salary and 49 percent higher than the average overall interpreter salary. The federal government was the third-best-paying industry for interpreters overall, trailing only computer-design companies and consulting services.
There were 1,260 interpreters working directly for state governments -- excluding those who worked in state-run schools and hospitals -- according to the BLS. These translators earned a mean annual wage of $51,600, which was 14 percent higher than the average overall government salary and 2 percent higher than the overall average for the profession.
There were 2,270 interpreters working in local government, according to the BLS -- excluding government-run schools and hospitals. This made municipalities the fourth-largest overall employer of translators. Local governments paid a mean annual wage of $46,750, 4 percent above the overall government average, but 8 percent less than the overall average for the profession.