E.g., 06/17/2018
E.g., 06/17/2018

Translation and Localization Industry Facts and Data

Language is Big Business

The language industry is big business, with the worldwide language services market growing at an annual rate of 5.52%. 1 The Centre for Next Generation Localisation reports that localization and translation is the 4th fastest-growing industry in the United States. And, Inc. Magazine lists the language industry as one of the top industries for starting a business.

The industry is diverse and technology-driven, with an increasing impact on both global and regional economies. Here are three key facts to consider:

  • The size of the overall global language industry in 2016 is estimated at $40 Billion (USD), with estimates of up to $45 Billion by 2020 2
  • The projected growth rate is 6.5-7.5% annually through 2018 3
  • The size of the language technology industry is estimated at €29 Billion

Language Service Providers and Employment Data

Worldwide estimates for the number of language companies vary, but Common Sense Advisory, which provides highly regarded research data on the industry, maintains a database of 18,000 provider firms worldwide.

The EU Directorate-General Report on the Status of Translators indicates that in 2012, approximately 330,000 people were employed as translators or interpreters worldwide. Seventy-eight percent of translators in Europe worked as freelancers.

In the U.S. more than 3,000 firms employ over 55,000 professionals in various aspects of language services. More than 50,000 people work as translators and interpreters, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Top 20 Language Service Providers

Common Sense Advisory's 2016 Market Industry Report lists the following LSPs as the largest, measured by total revenues. Three-quarters of the top 20 are GALA members.

Rank Company HQ Status
1 Lionbridge Technologies US Public
2 TransPerfect/Translations.com US Private
3 HPE ACG FR Public
4 LanguageLine Solutions US Private
5 SDL GB Public
6 RWS Group GB Public
7 Welocalize, Inc. US Private
8 STAR Group CH Private
9 Amplexor LU Private
10 Moravia CZ Private
11 Hogarth Worldwide GB Private
12 CyraCom International, Inc. US Private
13 RR Donnelley Language Solutions US Public
14 Semantix SE Private
15 Honyaku Center Inc. JP Public
16 Pactera Technology International CN Public
17 Ubiqus FR Private
18 Keyword Studios GB Public
19 Logos Group IT Private
20 Capita Translation and Interpreting GB Private


While research indicates that the vast majority of language agencies are small firms engaged mainly in translation or interpreting, many of the larger language companies are considered “full-service” providers. Services can include translation – including machine translation – transcreation, localization and localization engineering, dubbing, voice-over, and narration for audio and video content, desktop publishing, consulting, and more. These services are supported by advanced language technology and software, and a thriving R&D sector helps fuel progress and innovation in the industry. By any measure, the language industry is healthy and growing.

Learn more about language technology.



1. Common Sense Advisory, "Top 100 Language Service Providers: 2016" (see links below)
2. Common Sense Advisory, "Top 100 Language Service Providers: 2016"
3. Common Sense Advisory, "Global Market Study: 2015"
The Global Language Technology Market (preliminary findings), Oct 1, 2012, LT-Innovate, The Forum for Europe’s Language Technology Industry
Global Language Services Market: 2014-2018 (Abstract), TechNavio - Infiniti Research Ltd. August 27, 2014
Global Market Study: 2015, Common Sense Advisory
Top 100 Language Service Providers: 2016, Common Sense Advisory