The translation and interpretation industry seems to have a bright future. That doesn’t mean all of us can rest easy and expect growth and work to flow our way. Here are some facts about the industry growth and a few simple things interpreters and translators can do to attract more business.
According to a July 2017 CNBC report, the translation and interpretation industry in the United States is booming. The number of people employed in the industry has doubled in the past seven years. And technology is not replacing translators and interpreters as much as its helping them improve their performance.
24 Percent Jump in Language Companies
One reason the U.S. language industry is booming is that the country’s becoming more globalized and interconnected each day. The number of companies in the industry has jumped 24 percent in the last seven years, according to the American Translators Association (ATA), citing data from the Department of Labor.
Through 2024, the employment outlook in the U.S. translation and interpretation industry is projected to grow by 29 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The ATA predicts the largest growth will be in contracted positions, as opposed to full-time employee positions, giving workers and companies more flexibility.
Other factors are driving translation and interpretation needs up. There’s the growing world population. There’s also a growing number of countries developing multiple language regulations. In China, a new rule requires companies to bilingually publish their prospectus for an initial public offering. Other investment documents must also be in two languages. In Japan, two landmark reforms in corporate governance require Japanese corporations to engage more with stakeholders which means more translation of investor materials.
Employment Requires More Than Multiple Language Fluency
The CNBC report says finding successful employment is about much more than just speaking multiple languages fluently. Translators who want to distinguish themselves as professionals must continue to work and hone their skill sets according to ATA President David Rumsey.
"It's a lifelong practice, and it requires keeping up not only your language skills but your subject matter skills so that you really understand the industries and fields you are working in," Rumsey said.
Language is Big Business
Whether you specialize in the medical, government, legal, education, or another field, keeping up with new developments in that field can give you more opportunities to what is now a big business.
The Globalization and Localization Association (GALA) calls the language industry big business.
GALA says the worldwide language services market, a $40 Billion (USD) market and is growing at an annual rate of 5.52%.
Inc. Magazine lists the language industry as one of the top industries for starting a business.
Common Sense Advisory has a database of 18,000 language companies worldwide.
People Prefer Their Own Language
Many U.S. companies now receive the majority of their revenues from overseas markets. Most of the people in those markets don’t want to learn English to buy goods and services. People around the world prefer communicating in their native tongue.
Translation and interpretation companies are expanding their repertoire to meet growing demand. The industry isn’t just about basic translation, localization, and interpreting. It’s expanding so translators and interpreters can improve their clients' global content strategy. And leading companies who take their products or brand global don’t use a “one size fits all” approach.
They adapt their content to the culture and preferences of each relevant local market. Specialist translators, reviewers, DTP & AV engineers, linguistic copywriters, project managers, and language technology experts to name a few, are all professionals enabling organizations to speak locally and grow globally.
Here at iTi we see languages as living and breathing entities. Language that worked yesterday may not work tomorrow. Industries and people start using new words and terms. New developments in manufacturing, marketing, or the field you’re in may require new ways of describing those developments. To grow and evolve with the fields you serve you can do many relatively simple things. Many translators and interpreters practice these simple tactics:
1. Read current literature in the languages you work in
This builds your vocabulary and can keep you updated on trends and changes.
2. Attend and participate in language conferences and industry organizations
Networking with like-minded professionals can provide support, new perspectives, and updates on recent translation and interpreting developments.
3. Make it a habit to use your translation or interpreting skills in your daily activities
Mentally translate an article from one language to another. Listen to a radio show and interpret it out loud. Follow a language industry blogger and translate his or her posts.
4. Read news articles in your target language
If you’re a Spanish translator and interpreter, make time each day to read the news or commentaries in Spanish. It will help keep you familiar with the current usage and sounds of the language.
5. Look up unfamiliar words
To save time many of us tend to skim pass words that are new to us or take an educated guess about their meaning. Resist this temptation. To keep honing your skills look up definitions and keep a written record of the new words and concepts you learn. Go back and review your entries once a month or so.
Interested in joining the exciting and growing world of language servives? Check out our full-time job opportunities here! If you're interested in becoming a linguist, the posts below are a great place to start.