The translation jobs outlook for 2022 is mainly a function of the translation industry’s growth outlook. While machine-aided translation will certainly gain ground in the near future, this doesn’t mean human translation jobs are on the way out. In fact, the opposite is true. There will indeed be some level of rejigging of roles as technology advances, but the industry as a whole is on track for stellar growth, which translates to well-paid positions and job security. For example, the legal translation services market was valued at US39.37 billion in 2020, and is expected to expand to US$46.2 by 2028.
In the US, for example, the translation job growth rate for 2020 to 2030 is estimated to be 24%, which is much higher than the average jobs growth rate of 8%, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Another indicator of the industry’s growth is the fact that the translation workforce doubled from 2013 to 2020. This growth is being fuelled by globalisation, the rise of cross-border travel and business, and increasingly diverse populations in many parts of the world. As a consequence, globalisation and localisation are key translation growth areas.
For example, the US is transitioning from a predominantly English-speaking country to a mixed Spanish- and English-speaking one, and this will mean that Spanish will increasingly be needed as a translation and interpretation language. Currently, around 13 of the US population speaks Spanish at home.
This example serves to highlight the nuances behind the headline growth rate. When considering a career in translation, or indeed, a job move within the industry generally, it’s always a prudent idea to research which areas will experience higher demand. After all, higher demand usually translates into better opportunities and working conditions. To find out what areas of the translation are up and coming, read the evidence-based blog below.
Rise of machine translation
The Google Neural Machine Translation was launched in beta version back in 2017. It was a milestone in good machine translation. Whereas some observers forecast the imminent demise of human translators at the hands of more efficient machine competitors, a hybrid working model has emerged. Despite its breakneck development and advances in AI translation software, machine translation lacks the nuances a human translator brings to the table. It is great at translating high volumes of more generalised content, but it lacks nuance. The machine translation process usually requires a human editor, and this is an area that is seeing rapid jobs growth. Machine translation post-editing (MTPE) combines the best of machine translation’s speed and efficiency with humans’ abilities to contextualise meaning.
While English today remains the de facto lingua franca, it’s dominant position is under threat from an array of fast-growing languages. Potential job candidates would be well advised to follow demand, and train in the world’s most up-and-coming languages. We’ve already mentioned the growing importance of Spanish in the US, but there are many other examples. One such example is Chinese. China’s economy is the world’s second largest, and is due to overtake the US economy in the not too distant future. More and more international companies are targeting the massive Chinese domestic market, and Chinese companies are venturing out abroad, either through investment or extending their footprint. One example of this trend is the rising prominence of Mandarin in Africa, where China has been investing in huge infrastructure projects. Not only that, but the massive Chinese diaspora is prominent in business across Asian markets. Mandarin is not only the most widely spoken language in the world, according to the World Economic Forum, the economic importance of its speakers is rapidly increasing. Therefore, Mandarin features high up on the list of the most sought-after languages in terms of translation jobs. Google ‘who speaks Mandarin?’, and you’re guaranteed to be amazed at the results.
Podcasts and videos
Blogging, vlogging and podcasting have become huge in a relatively short period of time. Driving this expansion is the rise of platforms like Weibo, YouTube and TikTok. Now everyone can share their views online. This has created a huge market for influencers, people who have large online followings, working with brands to promote their products and services. International brands are increasingly turning to local influencers to market directly to their target consumers. Content marketing is forecast to hit astronomical sums in the not too distant future. This is fuelling a corresponding spike in demand for transcreation and translation services as brands increasingly want to convey their message in a locally appropriate manner via influencers. Job opportunities in this subsection are likely to grow fast. A knowledge of marketing and branding would benefit any would-be translators who wish to tap this area.
Healthcare / medical translation jobs
The ongoing vaccine drive, the largest in human history, demonstrates why there’s burgeoning demand for healthcare language services across the world. Not only is this a highly specialised area of translation, it’s subject to a great deal of specialist language and strict regulation. A great example of how medical translation can benefit companies is the inclusion of Western medicines in China’s national healthcare system. Any pharmaceutical company wishing to tap this vast market needs top-notch translators, experts who are familiar with not only the complex technicalities of this field, but the legal framework within which it operates. While there will likely be an increase in machine translation, the technical nature of this field means humans will reign supreme for the foreseeable future, though that’s not to say machines will not be contributing massively.
The translation jobs market is set for above-average growth, and highly skilled translators, experts who are recognised in their technical fields, will be in high demand, and will be able to command the salary and working conditions to match. While machine translation is nowhere near replacing humans, the rise of this technology means the nature of translation jobs is changing. If you want to future-proof your career in translation, specialising is highly recommended. The human ability to contextualise meaning will not be surpassed by technology in the near future. Job security and career progression count for a lot when it comes to careers, and a career in translation provides plenty of both, if you look in the right places. So, before you embark on a career in this noble profession, make sure you know whether Chinese to Japanese translation is more in demand than translation services Chinese to English, for example, and whether you’d prefer to work in website translation services or to become freelance translators.
To explore a career in translation, get in touch with Into23 today.