This Translators' Survey Reveals What Language Professionals Value the Most
International language translation agency, Day Translations, Inc., did a survey with the goal of better understanding the key aspects of the language profession. Conducted in June 2019, the study was participated by 425 individual language professionals with some working for Day and others employed by other companies. The survey respondents were made to answer questionnaires anonymously. Here are the key findings of this translators survey.
Most Popular Languages
Spanish emerged as the top language translated by translators in the United States. More than a third or 34.35% of the respondents said this is the main language they translated. The second most popular is French (22.6%) while German (13.2%) is in third place and Portuguese (11.8%) and Russian (11%) are fourth and fifth, respectively.
Other popular languages mentioned by the respondents are Arabic (8%), Chinese (3.5%), and Italian (3.3%). It’s interesting to see Chinese in the lower rank considering the massive trade between China and the United States.
Biggest Industries Served
When it comes to industries where translators are involved, almost half of the respondents said they focused on one to three industries, while 38.6% said they handle translation needs in all industries. Around 11.5% said they concentrate on a single industry. The survey found that most translators work in the business, education, healthcare, technology, entertainment, and tourism industries.
Training and Skills Development
Most translators have formal training, with 53.9% of the respondents saying that they acquired their skills from school. Around a third, on the other hand, said that their translation skills were developed by living in a new country. Meanwhile, 23.3% said that they took independent courses while 8% used online training or language learning apps.
The survey also found that there’s a relatively good distribution when it comes to experience as a professional translator. Around 30% of those surveyed said that they are newbies (1 to 5 years experience) in the translation profession. Also, approximately 30% of the respondents said that they have been in the business for 5 to 10 years. Those who have been doing professional translation for 10 to 15 years make up around 20%, a similar percentage for those who are certified veterans (more than 15 years).
Other Language Services Performed
A high majority of translators do other language-related tasks. The survey found that only 29.9% exclusively do translation jobs. The rest also perform interpreting jobs (37.6%), subtitling (26.1%), and transcription (19.8%). There are also translators who moonlight as voice-over artists (6.8%).
The survey also found that 19.8% of the translators are localization specialists. This figure highlights the fact that localization and translation are two different things. The latter requires more advanced skills and experience. Not all translators can be relied upon to deliver effective localization.
Advantages and Challenges of Being a Translator
There are many benefits in being a translator. The most notable is the flexible hours, with 42.7% of those surveyed saying that they love not being bound by strict working hours. Others said that they appreciate the fact that they get to work with different languages (30%), help others communicate (22.9%), and get a good amount of pay (4.2%) because of their job as a translator.
Not everything about working as a translator is positive, though. The survey respondents list the following instances as the hardest part of doing translations: handling of extremely technical terms (29.4%), the translation of documents mired with erratic grammar (28.2%), the strict deadlines imposed by some clients (25.4%), and the need to exert more effort to appropriately translate puns and proverbs (16.2%).
What Do Translators Value the Most?
What do translators regard as the most valuable aspects of doing translations? What is it that draws them to the job and makes them stay? Apparently, it’s about doing something they love (passion for language) while generating income. As mentioned, most of the survey respondents cited “working with languages” and “helping people communicate” (combined percentage of 52.9%) as two of the best part of being a translator. The rest said it’s the “flexible hours” and “salary” (combined percentage of 46.9%).
By the way, the research discussed here is included in Our Resources for businesses. Visit the site to find more references, data, and useful information related to language services.
Translators mostly serve as a bridge for two or more people who speak different languages to understand each other. Their role, however, is not limited to the typical task of converting a document from one language to another. Most of them are also involved in other language-related jobs such as interpreting, subtitling, and transcription. Many translators do what they are doing for the love of languages, not only because they want or need a job. Translators value the ability to do what they are fond of doing as their source of income.