Translation and Interpretation Services

Industry Profile Report

Dive Deep into the industry with a 25+ page industry report (pdf format) including the following chapters

Industry Overview Industry Structure, How Firms Opertate, Industry Trends, Credit Underwriting & Risks, and Industry Forecast.

Call Preparation Quarterly Insight, Call Prep Questions, Industry Terms, and Weblinks.

Financial Insights Working Capital, Capital Financing, Business Valuation, and Financial Benchmarks.

Industry Profile Excerpts

Industry Overview

The 2,500 translation and interpretation service providers in the US translate written material, interpret speech from one language to another, and offer sign language services. Specific services include localization (adapting digital content for a specific market), transcription, subtitling, voiceover/dubbing, and language testing or training.

Dependence on a Highly Skilled Workforce

Translation and interpretation agencies and companies rely on highly skilled workers to provide services.

Industry Growth

Globalization and increasing diversity within the US population has boosted demand for translation and interpretation services.

Industry size & Structure

The average translation and interpretation service provider operates out of a single location, employs about 14-15 workers, and generates $2 million annually.

    • The US translation and interpretation services industry consists of 2,500 firms that employ 37,800 workers and generate about $5 billion annually.
    • The global language service provider (LSP) industry is estimated to be worth about $52 billion, according to CSA Research.
    • The industry is concentrated at the top; the top 50 companies account for 68% of industry revenue.
    • Types of companies include multi-national firms, language technology firms, local agencies and freelance interpreters and translators.
    • Large firms include TransPerfect, Lionbridge, and LanguageLine Solutions (Teleperformance).
                              Industry Forecast
                              Translation and Interpretation Services Industry Growth
                              Source: Vertical IQ and Inforum

                              Coronavirus Update

                              Apr 23, 2022 - Vaccination, Masking, Social Distancing Decisions Being Left To Individuals
                              • Firms specializing in providing interpreters for face-to-face meetings and conferences may see demand surge if the number of these events increases as pandemic-related restrictions are dropped. Federal and local health officials are leaving it up to people to assess if they need booster shots, whether to wear a mask, and how long to isolate after a positive test, according to The Wall Street Journal. Businesses, schools and other entities are scaling back specific guidelines. The lack of effective treatments, vaccines, and widespread testing early in the pandemic resulted in social distancing mandates and lockdowns. The response is becoming more tailored to people’s own health and appetite for risk, as those tools help blunt the worst outcomes as the virus continues to spread, according to public-health experts.
                              • School districts have increased the ways they reach out to families that speak languages other than English at home. The Ritenour School District in Missouri, for example, started holding its Spanish-language town halls during the pandemic, and school officials say they will likely continue to do them even as things return to normal. School communications became essential when the pandemic sent students home, according to research from Calvin University in Michigan. Parents reported increased interest in education news, but Calvin University researchers found a big gap in whether or not information needs are being met for families of different backgrounds. Schools have legal obligations to provide information in a language families can understand. They are required to provide written translations or spoken interpretations, and if they do not, families can file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights.
                              • Demand for translators and interpreters is high in the medical arena and has been magnified during the pandemic. Opportunities have arisen for translation services to support the medical community’s greater use of telehealth. Many healthcare professionals will need translation software to communicate online or over video chat with limited-English-speaking patients and the hearing impaired. Some local governments have created COVID-19 vaccine scheduling apps, websites, and other resources with diverse language options. Government-run mass vaccination and testing sites and in-store, appointment-based vaccine clinics in pharmacies had been winding down. Still, they moved quickly to ramp back up to provide booster doses amid the rapid rise in US cases fueled by the highly-contagious Omicron variant of the coronavirus. A “mix & match” approach allows Americans to receive a booster shot that’s different from the one they initially received. The mix & match approach and rapidly evolving eligibility criteria could be confusing for some and require additional public health messaging for both English and non-English speakers.
                              • The need to provide services to limited-English communities may spur demand for website translation services and phone interpreters at state agencies. Pandemic-related layoffs and furloughs caused millions of Americans to apply for unemployment benefits, which in many cases overwhelmed state employment services agencies. Due to state agencies' limited translation and interpretation resources, some non-English speakers had difficulty navigating the unemployment insurance application process. These issues resulted in lawsuits and complaints from immigrant advocacy groups in some cases.
                              • The COVID-19 Health Literacy Project, led by medical students and physicians at Harvard Medical School, has translated COVID-19 information into other languages. Information is available in more than 35 languages. The CDC has posted coronavirus information in dozens of languages on its website. Washington state offers info in nearly 40 languages, and New Hampshire offers it in 20 languages. However, the CDC notes COVID-19 infection rates in some limited-English-speaking communities are higher than their percentage of the overall population. In some cases, state and local health officials have struggled to make multilingual COVID-19-related health information more accessible. After the outbreak subsides, healthcare providers may reassess how they convey medical information to non-English-speaking patients, creating opportunities for translation and interpretation services.
                              • Contact tracing – the practice of alerting people who have been exposed to coronavirus and requiring them to self-quarantine – is viewed as a key tool in the fight to contain the virus’ spread. Translators are needed to help contact tracers reach people who do not speak English.
                              • The substantial global increase in content streaming during the pandemic is driving content creator demand for language localization services, according to David Lee, CEO of Iyuno-SDI, a provider of media localization services. In 2020, over-the-top (OTT) providers (standalone streaming media services such as Netflix) added 200 million new subscriber accounts. By the end of 2020, the global number of OTT subscribers stood at nearly 520 million. Industry watchers note that for OTT providers to grow outside their home countries, they will need to provide localized content via dubbing and/or subtitles. Artificial intelligence (AI) is used for machine translation (MT) to help manage the volume of content that must be translated. Still, Mr. Lee notes that human translators are needed to review the creative quality of MT content localization.
                              • Zoom meetings became ubiquitous for many during the pandemic amid the shift to work-from-home. Zoom acquired Germany-based simultaneous speech translation start-up Karlsruhe Information Technology Solutions (Kites GmbH). At its annual Zoomtopia conference in mid-September, the company said its plans to bring live, multi-language transcription and translation capability to its platform, according to Slator. The new features are scheduled to debut in 2022 and will include transcription in 30 languages and translation in 12 languages, and will come with additional fees. Industry insiders suggest Zoom’s plans directly result from its Kites acquisition. Zoom has also added a Language Interpretation feature that allows meeting or webinar hosts to designate as many as 20 participants as interpreters during a Zoom session. Attendees may select an interpreter’s audio channel to hear the meeting in their preferred language.
                              • Some industry insiders suggest the speed with which translation and interpretation providers pivoted to offering services remotely early in the pandemic bodes well for future demand. The ability to provide remote language services helped make interpretation services more attainable and easier to arrange, making services more affordable to a broader array of customers, especially smaller organizations. Translation and interpretation demand may increase as easier and cheaper access encourages smaller businesses to reach out to new markets that had previously been difficult to enter due to language differences. Amid new coronavirus variants such as Delta and Omicron, remote work may remain longer than many anticipated, which could boost remote language services demand.
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