Demand for Qualified Translators On the Up

Grecia Loaiza-Duque works as a medical interpreter for Rockford Memorial Hospital in Illinois, US. Her job is to help doctors and patients of different languages speak to each other, both in person and by video conference.

At Rockford, a 396-bed hospital with inpatient, outpatient and home health care services, as many as 12 languages other than English and Spanish are spoken each day.

“What helped me was that I’ve been working in the medical field for a while, so I’ve been getting familiar with medical terms for a long time,” Loaiza-Duque told

She represents one the most significant emerging occupations in the world today: translation and interpretation.

If you thought that the next big jobs skill is Big Data, analytics, graphene or cybercrime – then think again.

While these skill sets are undoubtedly important, translation and interpretation jobs are set to rocket as globalisation and changes in the way people migrate and work drives demand for such skills.

In the US, the Department of Labor forecasts that about 25,000 translator and interpreter jobs will open up between 2010 and 2020, a 42% growth for the field.

Across the world, populations are becoming more diverse, leading to greater demand for translation skills across a range of sectors.

“Interpreter service is critical in the health care setting,” Kathryn Pearce, manager of patient enhancement services for Rockford Health Systems, told

“We have a lot of patients that come in to the health care setting that English is not their first language, so anytime you’re dealing with medical situations, you want to make sure you have clear, accurate understandable information.”

Translation and interpreter skills in another kind of theatre – military ones – are also increasingly in demand as troops seek to win hearts and minds and governments ramp up their intelligence efforts.

“The [US] government needs languages spoken in the Middle East and Africa. These people make the most money of all, but this is not just because of their language skills – this is because of the high risk of the job,” Jiri Stejskal, of the American Translators Association, told

“They work in war zones. They may have a $200,000 salary but it’s because they’re willing to get shot at.”

Away from military arenas though, there are a whole host of other translation hotspots, such as in marketing, the legal profession, the sciences and in highly technical roles.

In the translation market, there are now established skillsets, such as Japanese, Hindi and Chinese. However, given the large number of people holding these skills, they often offer a low return.

The real growth areas, according to stats from Translators Café, are Burmese, Pashto and Dari. Although the demand for professional translators is set to rise, candidates for jobs will need to show that they stand out from the competition.

Kari Carapella, a senior recruiter for staffing firm Adecco Engineering & Technical, is trying to fill a job for an engineering translator in New York. The ideal candidate must be both fluent in Japanese and able to understand complex electrical and mechanical engineering blueprints and documents.
“It’s especially tough to fill as both the technical and translation skills must be in place,” she told

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