One of the fastest-growing industries in the world today is one that is seldom recognized as such: the global language services industry. Some studies suggest that the worth of this exploding business will be about $45 billion by 2020, up by about $5 billion over where it currently sits. In fact, the industry has nearly doubled in size over the past few years. And according to researchers, there appears to be no end in sight for the expansion of the language services business over the next several years. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the language services industry will grow by 18 percent inside the U.S. alone in the decade between 2016 and 2026, and that is much faster than the average predicted for all other industries. If this comes as a surprise, it shouldn’t. Just take into consideration two key players in this industry’s expansion: globalization and the Internet, both of which go hand-in-hand and some may argue are mutually responsible for the other’s growth.
The Internet almost literally puts the world at our feet. Whether it’s reading news reports from far-flung areas of the world; communicating with friends and acquaintances on social media; or shopping for our home and business needs, the Internet allows us to connect with the rest of the world with the click of a mouse. But, of course, the rest of the world doesn’t always speak our language, which accounts for the ever-growing popularity of machine translations. From Facebook to Google, the most rudimentary translations can now be achieved by a click of the mouse. But this most basic of language services is hardly ever adequate for business and government purposes. For these more serious communication needs, the services of professional linguists are a must-have.
Some of the most common arenas for translators and interpreters are those involving international trade and government entities, both of which involve regular communication with people from countries around the world on a regular basis. Within the government realm, there is an increasing need for both military and national security translators and interpreters. Inside the U.S., there is a growing demand for translation services related to immigration and the complicated procedures and paperwork involved with that process. And within business, language professionals are most likely to find careers in the following industries: import/export, health care, legal (including law firms and courts), technical services (including website translation, software localization, etc.), finance, education, insurance, tourism and travel. But the services of trained interpreters and translators are needed in lesser-known industries as well, due primarily with the increasing number of people immigrating to the U.S. and other countries, many of whom do not speak the language of their new homes.
While the specific needs within the language services arena vary greatly depending on where in the world these services are utilized, the conclusion remains the same: the global language services industry has never held more promise for current and future career opportunities than it does right now. If you are interested in entering into this exciting and challenging profession, you should know that you will usually need at least a four-year degree from an accredited college or university. Additional certifications from professional language associations are an added plus, as is an advanced degree. And while the specific language demands are different in other countries, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that within the U.S. the most sought-after interpreters and translators are trained in the following languages: Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Hindi, Korean, and Arabic and other Middle Eastern languages. For those just entering this field, not to mention those people who already enjoy employment within this challenging and rewarding industry, the future has never looked brighter!