First-Ever Comprehensive Study of the North American Interpreting Market - CSA Research > Blogs & Events > CSA in the Media > Press Releases

First-Ever Comprehensive Study of the North American Interpreting Market

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(Washington, DC) – They enable courts, hospitals, schools, and businesses throughout North America to convey messages to millions of people each day. Leaders of nations cannot communicate without them. Even athletes and celebrities need them to reach out to their fans. No, it isn’t Twitter, Facebook, the latest feature from Google, or even the newest iPhone.  The communication tool in question?  Human interpreters.

According to a research study conducted by Common Sense Advisory and commissioned by InterpretAmerica, interpreters are instrumental to both the public and private sectors. The report, which highlights the results of a survey of 1,135 interpreters throughout North America across every major industry sector, reveals that interpreters earn between US$43.14 and US$65.96 per hour on average, depending on their location and specialization. However, the study points out that only 24% of the interpreters surveyed had full-time employment.  “About a quarter of the interpreters we surveyed – 26.9% – earn more than US$50,000 per year, making it an attractive profession,” explained Nataly Kelly, the lead author of the study, “Our research has repeatedly shown that the interpreting market is growing at a fast pace, fueled by legislation and increased awareness of the need for interpreting services.”

The study shows that interpreters are a highly educated group. More than three quarters (78.9%) of the respondents reported having a bachelor’s degree, and nearly half (44.7%) had a master’s or doctoral degree. However, only 28.9% of respondents reported having a university degree in interpreting, and 7.6% of interpreters reported that they had no formal training whatsoever in interpreting. “Training and education for interpreters are critical regardless of where or how they work, and the core skills of interpreting are quite similar across all sectors,” says Barry Slaughter Olsen, co-founder of InterpretAmerica. “This is one of the primary reasons we decided to gather leaders from all areas of interpreting at a single event, to discuss these common interests.”

However, the report also points out that the interpreting profession is quickly aging. Forty-seven percent of interpreters have worked in the field for more than 15 years. “Interpreting is a vastly undermarketed, underpublicized profession, especially within younger generations,” explains Katharine Allen, co-founder of InterpretAmerica. “Many bilingual staff pressed into interpreting at work may not even realize they are taking part in a professional activity that not only requires training, but which also offers a pathway to a dynamic career. An interpreter might be working one day for a high-profile court case, the next day for a business executive, and the next day in the emergency room of a hospital. The life of an interpreter is certainly never boring.”

The full findings of the study will be presented at the 1st North American Summit on Interpreting, which takes place on June 17th, 2010 at the Doubletree Crystal City – Reagan National Airport Hotel in Washington, DC.

The report includes the following major findings:

  • Average daily and hourly rates and salaries for interpreters throughout North America
  • Average rates paid by buy-side organizations for interpreting services
  • Average rates charged by interpreting agencies
  • Most common languages requested
  • Data on attitudes toward interpreter certification, training, and technology
  • Anonymized verbatim quotes from interpreters, vendors of interpreting services, and purchasing organizations

Members of the media will be provided with a copy of the report upon request. A limited number of free media passes for the event are also available.

About Common Sense Advisory

Common Sense Advisory, Inc. is an independent research and analysis firm specializing in the on- and offline operations driving business globalization, internationalization, localization, translation, and interpretation. Its research, consulting, and training help organizations improve the quality of their global business operations. For more information, visit:  or

About InterpretAmerica

InterpretAmerica, LLC was established to provide a national forum for the interpreting profession. Through conferences, discussion groups, its website, and other activities, it brings together the community, conference, legal, medical, military, and signed language interpreting sectors, as well as buyers and vendors of interpreting services.  InterpretAmerica seeks to elevate the profile and reach of the interpreting industry to the benefit of all. For more information, visit: or

Media Contact: Melissa Gillespie,


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