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04Sep

On the Profession of Translators and Interpreters

Already over 3,700 linguists have completed CSA Research’s large-scale survey of translators and interpreters and many more have started it. We designed the survey to gain insights into the factors and issues that affect professional language workers. A preliminary analysis of the data from the survey already reveals some interesting patterns.

We asked survey respondents about their main job as a linguist, that is, the role where they do the most translation or interpreting. About two-thirds (65%) are dedicated exclusively to their translator or interpreter job. The balance hold another job – and sometimes more than one – either in or outside the language services industry.

Do-you-have-another-...

Among the titles they cited for their secondary job, the main groups emerging so far are:

  • Translators and interpreters – these are primarily cases where in-house linguists supplement their income with some freelance work, or vice-versa.
  • LSP workers – primarily project managers, but we also find executives, business developers, account managers, and vendor managers.
  • Educators – from tutors and schoolteachers all the way to university professors.
  • Positions in the content writing field – such as copywriters, editors, social media content managers, and digital marketing managers.

Yet, even when linguists have a second job, 69% of them see themselves first and foremost as a translator or interpreter, showing the great deal of pride linguists have in their profession. 

I-am-first-and-forem...

And these linguists are generous with their time with 73% reporting having performed volunteer (unpaid) translation or interpreting in the past. Such work may range from helping a client or friend to pro bono legal work, Wikipedia or TED talk translation, or volunteering through organizations such as Global Voices or Per Mondo.

Have-you-ever-perfor...

Since we are partnered with Translators Without Borders for the survey, we also inquired whether linguists ever translated or interpreted for development and/or humanitarian organizations. That is the case for 45% of the current respondent pool for the survey, who showed a strong interest in donating their skills to organizations devoted to bettering the world.

Have-you-ever-transl...

Stay tuned for more findings from the survey. We are working with several organizations, such as Proz.com and Translators Without Borders, that will use the results to help them in their planning to better conditions for language workers.

There is still time to participate in the survey as it closes on September 15. The more responses, the more in-depth analyses we can provide. We are still trying to compile representative samples for Africa, Eastern Europe, Northern Europe, and Oceania as well as from in-person and remote interpreters.

Click here to take the survey in English, Bengali, Chinese (Simplified), French, Fulah, Hausa, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, or Swahili. For Arabic and Farsi, please use the alternate link.

About the Author

Hélène Pielmeier

Hélène Pielmeier

Director of LSP Service

Focuses on LSP business management, strategic planning, sales and marketing strategy and execution, project and vendor management, quality process development, and interpreting technologies

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