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How Has COVID-19 Influenced the Translation Industry

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Translators play a significant role in breathing life into foreign transcripts for us. They connect businesses, families, communities, and individuals worldwide. In simple words, translators and professional translation companies are the bridge between several cultures and markets around the world.

As the world turns to digital experiences, many businesses are experiencing new challenges related to translations. Globally, there is an increasing demand for translators. However, it is essential to understand that various industries have dropped their translation needs.

COVID-19 has dramatically impacted the translation industry, allowing translators to boost their digital services. With all the ongoing disruption, let us have a look at what the pandemic is and how it has impacted translators:

COVID-19’s Impact on The Translation Industry

The pandemic had a long-lasting effect on all industries, with employees working for lower rates and employers getting minimal profits. Right now, as the world is turning to digital experiences, the translation industry is facing new challenges.

The virus has undoubtedly played a massive role in reshaping professional translation services worldwide. As every industry tried to digitise itself, the translation industry was in a pickle.

Professional translation service providers worldwide saw significant changes in market demands and operations. Similarly, working hours and other factors also observed changes. On the one hand, there was an increasing demand for translation services, but on the other hand, translators were scraping for work, that too, at more competitive rates.

Translation Services Before COVID-19

To understand the impact of COVID-19 on translation services around the globe, you need to consider how it functioned before the pandemic. Before 2020, translators worked online and in person to facilitate translations and interpreting services.

Clients for all online interpreting services were already online before the pandemic. Therefore, in-person interpreting services were used mainly by events, travel, leisure, commercial, and specific business sectors. However, once the pandemic hit, things changed dramatically.

Organisations that used on-site interpretation and translation services had to shift to online support. Because of this shift, linguists had to offer their services virtually to these companies. On the bright side, the change made it possible to reach newer clients who usually would not acquire an interpreter’s services due to online services, different time zones, etc.

What Changed?

The pandemic has become the new normal for many industries around the world. It also applies to translation services that connect different cultures around the globe. However, the way they work changed as a result of COVID restrictions.

Here is how the translation industry has changed since the pandemic hit:

New Market Demands

 

After COVID-19, the market demands for translation services observed a drastic change. For instance, travel was one of the most popular markets for translation services, with customers frequently translating foreign marriage certificates, travel documents etc. However, not many people were vacationing after most of the world imposed or faced travel bans from several countries.

Travel suddenly saw the lowest market demands of all time. On the other hand, healthcare companies, specifically the pharmaceutical sector, have become huge clients. Medical and healthcare professionals were now providing translated content to foreign markets, hence creating more projects for translators.

The pharmaceutical sector saw an increased demand for remote interpreting services as they had to transfer their services online. They needed extra assistance to ensure their patients understood the terms and risks of an appointment.

Telehealth has become a leading health care facility to help patients remotely and communicate with them in their preferred language.

Change in Operations

 

The need for in-person translation has decreased since the pandemic. As a result, in-person interpreters were quickly replaced with online interpreting services in several markets. However, the increase in demand for professional interpreting services was hard to adjust to.

Professional translators and interpreters had to find new ways to modify their operations to work remotely effectively. Some of their changes included:

  • Creating websites to help customers navigate their services
  • Telephone interpreting services
  • Translating via online platforms such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams

Adapting to Video Calls

 

Lastly, video calls and conferencing have become standard communication methods. In the socially distanced world, clients may feel isolated in their remote locations. Video calls and conferencing allow them to communicate with interpreters easily.

Platforms like Zoom, Google Meet and Microsoft Teams enabled interpreters to connect to their clients without being physically present. In addition, some businesses heavily leverage the benefits of virtual meetings as they provide ease of timing and fast connectivity anywhere in the world.

What Does the Future Look Like?

In August 2020, the CSA Research Institute surveyed Freelance Translators. The results showed that translators observed lower incomes, fewer job opportunities, and lower hourly rates. However, things are constantly improving with time.

The switch from in-person to remote services was very haphazard for many businesses, but they have greatly improved in the last two years. In addition, there are various advantages of remote interpreting services for businesses, such as:

  • Interpreters observed improved accessibility worldwide as they could use any internet-connected device to work remotely and provide interpreting services.
  • As online services gain popularity, translators and interpreters can work at flexible hours from the comfort of their homes.

Conclusion

Many changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic will stick around in the translation and interpreting industry. However, that is not a bad thing. Online services offer endless possibilities to translators and interpreters as they can now reach audiences around the globe more efficiently.

Previously, it might have been impossible due to great distances and time zones but working from home has made it possible. Translators and interpreters should balance their work-life with their home and make the best of this situation. Adapting to the new industry changes will go a long way for them.

Still, there are situations where in-person and on-the-spot interpreters are needed, which means interpreters have to be present physically. Fortunately, with the pandemic slowing down ever so slightly and restrictions lifted in most parts of the world, interpreters can travel again and provide their services in-person and remotely via a conference call or by phone.

Ieva Ofer
the authorIeva Ofer