With the global economy still feeling the effects of the recession, some industries are holding their own while others are floundering. Fortunately, the prospects for the field of translation look extremely promising, with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projecting industry growth of 42% during this decade, a figure that exceeds growth estimates for other industries evaluated by the BLS. As the U.S. population continues to become more diverse, the demand for interpreters and translators will also grow.
According to a market research study by the firm Common Sense Advisory, the market for language services will total $33.5 billion this year. Overall, the translation industry has experienced a compound annual growth rate of 12.17%. Unlike many industries where a handful of top performers dominate the business landscape, the market for translation and interpretation is splintered, with over 26,000 companies worldwide offering translation services. Only nine of those companies reported revenue in excess of $100 million last year.
Despite the proliferation of machine translation tools such as Google Translate and BabelFish, the market for language services has not suffered a downturn. While machine translation tools do offer insight into the meaning of a text, computers fail to render the nuanced, culturally correct translations created by humans. Given the current limitations of machine translation, it would seem that translators’ jobs are safe.
With that said, it is important for language service professionals to adopt new technology. Computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools allow translators to work more quickly and efficiently, and with a potential shortage of qualified translators looming on the horizon, the use of technology will be necessary to meet the growing global demand for translations.
Experienced, educated, professional translators make up the backbone of the translation industry, and it is their expertise that will keep the industry riding high throughout this difficult economic period.