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Translation Services: Bullet-Proof Business?

It's boom times for translation businesses: The industry stayed strong through the recession and is predicted to grow 42% by 2020.
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No industry is completely recession-proof--but foreign-language translation comes mighty close. 

A recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistic report projects 42% growth in the field of translation and interpretation services from 2010 to 2020. This number is higher than the average growth estimated for other industries in the study and reflects the diversity of U.S. population, according to the report.

“Translation is one of the few industries that has seen minimal impact from the global economic downturn,” Nataly Kelly, chief research officer with market research firm Common Sense Advisory, told Bloomberg BusinessWeek.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of 2010 there were over 35 million foreign-born people in the U.S. As this number continues to grow, the need for language translation will likely stay strong. 

While a number of free, high-tech translation services exist online, such as Google Translate, they only skim the surface of overall need, AAA Translation founder Susanne Evens told Bloomberg.

“Machine translation--especially the free, online kind--serves as an awareness campaign, putting translation in front of the average person,” says Evens. 

In fact, a recently released report co-authored by Kelly illustrates how deep the need for translation services goes. The study shows that the market for outsourced language services reached $33.5 billion in 2012, with an annual growth rate of around 12%.

The difficulty most experts find is that in order to be a successful interpreter, most instructors need more than a working knowledge of both languages. Holding a number of degrees and having actual field experience is often necessary, Evens told Bloomberg. This is where technology falls short, as the human interaction is an important part of the business.

People who enter the field must “translate meaning from one language and culture to another without inflicting harm in the process,” Evens told Bloomberg.

Last updated: Jul 5, 2012




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