The Invisible Industry

Two months ago, I read an article about our invisible industry of translation. Kate Rogers gave very good examples with real numbers from an article by Kevin Handzel (ATA). I want to share the points that I find interesting:

– Kevin Hendzel, spokesperson for the American Translators Association, said the industry has more than 13.5 million translators and interpreters and has been growing at a rate of 13% annually over the past several years – despite the rough economic backdrop.

– The industry serves in 180 different languages, Hendzel said. The federal government spends more than $1 billion annually on translator services and state and local governments collectively spend $900 million.

– “The industry is much larger than people know,” Hendzel said. “It one of those great invisible industries, and a great enabler of international commerce.”

– “The problem with doing different languages and subjects is there isn’t enough room in your brain,” he said. “They need to have a huge base of knowledge to be successful. It’s harder for kids coming out of school, because they know a lot about a language, but not a lot about the world.”

– The most in-demand translators are those speaking Arabic languages, when it comes to open government positions, and French, Portuguese, Spanish, Korean, Japanese and Chinese are more in-demand on the technology side of things. Many translators work freelance, earning between $25,000 and $175,000 a year, Hendzel said. United Nations translators are on the higher end of the pay scale, earning between $150,000 and $200,000 a year.

– “This is the only industry that grew through the recession, because globalization continues to accelerate and demand continues to grow.”

For the full article, click here.

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