Hiring and maintaining a sufficient pool of qualified interpreters and translators is crucial to the success of any language company, whether you’re a multimillion international firm or a one-person operation. To be an effective interpreter and translator takes time, skill, and training, as well as ongoing learning and skill-building. It’s not an easy occupation and it’s certainly not always easy to secure qualified linguistic resources you may require. As the language industry continues to evolve in new ways amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, there are several trends that are impacting the ability to hire and maintain interpreters and translators.
The most immediate effect on hiring linguists currently is the COVID-19 pandemic, which essentially eliminated onsite interpreting as a viable modality across the country as enforced shutdowns took over states. While it is a temporary impediment and onsite interpreting will resume eventually, we also can’t envision all of the limitations COVID-19 threatens upon the provision of onsite interpreting. We also can’t predict the number of linguists interested in providing this service in the coming months. The same effect will not be felt regarding translators, as translators have always been able to work remotely and provide services from anywhere in the world.
New and Emerging Languages
The effect of new and emerging languages is not a new trend for the language industry. Immigrants and refugees come to the U.S. or relocate to a new state every day. However, it doesn’t mean that finding qualified linguists from the new arrivals is an easy task.
Typically, it takes about five years from the time a wave of new immigrants starts moving to the US until people are able to learn the language at an advanced enough level to pass qualifying requirements imposed by professional language companies. There are folks that already speak fluent English when relocating to the U.S., however, they may have other aspirations than to become an interpreter, as well as a chance at a shorter pass to finding a job in their field. Remote interpreting and translation are less impacted as linguists can be found globally to meet these needs. However, predicting which migration trends will impact a locality is a complicated task, and is not a challenge that a language business can always be prepared for.
Dying and Rare Languages
There are nearly 7,000 languages in the world today. According to one estimate, almost half of these 7,000 languages will disappear by the end of this century, with one language dying out every 14 days. While there are fewer speakers of languages like Tlingit or Aleut, they still require interpreting and translation services for meaningful language access. Therefore, language companies often face the task of having to secure linguists for these rare languages. This is a challenging task that requires time, persistence, and flexibility in requirements.
Certification and Training Requirements
Finding a Spanish translator who is certified by the American Translators Association is not a challenge, as there are a lot of credentialed Spanish linguists in comparison to other languages. On the other hand, finding a qualified Sgaw, Karen, or Hmong interpreter or translator with any credentials beyond quantifiable work experience, for instance, is a much more challenging task due to the scarcer number of qualified linguists.
Similar to the challenge presented by new and emerging languages, there simply may not be qualified, let alone certified, linguists located in a certain area where there is a need. Remote interpreting and translation can help but are not always an ideal replacement for onsite interpreting. However, Bromberg & Associate’s affiliate company, Interpreter Education Online, allows Bromberg to combat this issue, by securing, vetting, and training qualified linguists in several languages.
Considering the lasting impact of COVID-19 on the global and national economy, layoffs are happening daily. As a result of these and future layoffs, the potential pool of interpreters and translators who have been working as freelancers, full time, or part-time at various organizations could potentially be growing. Linguists may be looking for employment as restrictions are lifted, but this may limit the pool of available interpreters and translators for the immediate time being.
Some of the trends that affect a company’s ability to hire and maintain linguists will certainly change over time with economic and demographic shifts, but challenges will almost certainly always remain. Through rigorous recruitment, vetting, training and testing options, and provision of remote services, Bromberg & Associates is able to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to most of these challenges.