Jobs Outlook: Interpreters and Translators
Employment of interpreters and translators is projected to grow faster than the average for all occupations over the 2002-12 period, reflecting growth in the industries employing interpreters and translators. Higher demand for interpreters and translators in recent years has resulted directly from the broadening of international ties and the increase in foreign language speakers in the United States. Both of these trends are expected to continue, contributing to relatively rapid growth in the number of jobs for interpreters and translators.
Technology has made the work of interpreters and translators easier. However, technology is not likely to have a negative impact on employment of interpreters and translators because such innovations are incapable of producing work comparable with work produced by these professionals.
Translators are most in demand for the languages referred to as “PFIGS”—Portuguese, French, Italian, German, and Spanish, and the principal Asian languages—Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. Current events and changing political environments, often difficult to foresee, sometimes increase the need for persons who can work with other languages.
Urban areas, especially those in California, New York, and Washington, DC, provide the largest numbers of employment possibilities, especially for interpreters; however, as the immigrant population spreads into more rural areas, jobs in smaller communities will become more widely available.
Job prospects for interpreters and translators vary by specialty. In particular, there should be strong demand for specialists in localization, driven by imports and exports, the expansion of the Internet, and demand in other technical areas such as medicine or law. Rapid employment growth among interpreters and translators in health services industries will be fueled by relatively recent guidelines regarding compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which requires all healthcare providers receiving Federal aid to provide language services to non-English speakers. Similarly, the Americans with Disabilities Act and other laws, such as the Rehabilitation Act, mandate that, in certain situations, an interpreter must be available for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Given the lack of qualified candidates meeting these requirements, interpreters for the deaf will continue to have favorable employment prospects. On the other hand, job growth is expected to be limited for both conference interpreters and literary translators.