The Rise of Interpreters and Translators

 Lydia Callis


With the demand for all companies, big or small, to expand globally there is one industry that is thriving behind the scenes: Language services which include translation, interpretation and localization, have become a necessity for global communication.    However, few people have seen this industry in action until the recent catastrophe of Hurricane Sandy brought New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg’s American Sign Language (ASL)  interpreter, Lydia Callis, into the spotlight with her animated performance. ASL interpreting is just one facet to this rapidly growing industry, but there  is also an increased demand for Spanish, Chinese, Arabic and many other languages in the United States and all over the world. 

According to the Common Sense Advisory, a Boston based research firm, the language services industry including translation technologies is worth $33 billion globally.  This is largely due to the need to expand business into countries with fast growing economies.  This growth  is not projected to slow down anytime soon either.  The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics actually has predicted that by 2020 the number of jobs for translators and interpreters will expand by 42%. So, in a global economy where technology seems to be the answer to everything, why won’t this industry be replaced by computers? Most translation and interpretation work deals with specialized industries. You can find demand in hospitals, courtrooms, schools and with government officials; not just anyone who speaks a second language qualifies as a translator.  Professional  interpreters and translators have knowledge and training for the specific industry they work in. In some cases for legal interpretation the interpreters have to be certified by the court to even be considered for a job.   They also can help companies understand how to work with different cultures. No technology created thus far has been able to  replace the need for  working together with human translation. 

So where do you find these qualified translators and interpreters? Most get freelance work through language service providers (LSP) who work with specific industries.  These language services providers are growing at a quick pace as well.  In 2012 alone there were 20 United States based language service providers on the Inc. 5000 list of the year’s fastest growing companies.  Using a language service provider saves your company the time and hassle of finding a qualified interpreter or translator.  Working with an LSP reduces the stress of worrying if your documents will contain mistakes that can be embarrassing and costly to your company. 

In the next few years the world  will continue to see a rise in the need for interpreters and translators. With an economy that is still struggling, companies can no longer afford to not be thinking globally.