How Big is the Translation Industry in the World?

I came across this info-graphic by Funders and Founders which shows what 7 billion people in the world do.

  • Over 400 million are entrepreneurs
  • 430 million are unemployed
  • 577 million are older than 64
  • 800 million work industrial jobs
  • 4 billion work in agriculture
  • 9 billion are too young to work (ages 0-15)
  • 7 billion work in services.

With translation being a service, it got me wondering about the number of translators in the world.

There is no doubt that the global translation industry is witnessing an unprecedented growth. In fact, the translation market is not heavily affected by recessions, with translators needed to get the job done no matter the financial situation of any given country.

After doing a little online research, I found some articles  stating that the estimated number of translators in the world is 640,000 (source: Translators Association of China – TAC), 25% of whom work on a freelance basis. In general, there are low barriers to entering this industry, which makes the level of competition very high.

According to a report released in 2015 by the website CareerBuilder, translation and interpretation services is the fastest-growing industry in the States by job growth. The report collected data from 90 government sources, and it found that the US translation industry is expected to add approximately 12,400 jobs between 2014 and 2019, which is a 36% increase.

What is even more positive is that, regardless of how advanced technology gets, there will never come a time when human translation will be completely replaced by machine translation.

For anyone thinking of making languages their career, I strongly advise majoring in translation. Trust me, there will never be a dull day in your life: if you are passionate about learning, you will find yourself learning something new every day. Translation is one of the most demanding professions, yet it is one of the most fun ones in my opinion: there is no routine whatsoever!


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