Ten months ago, I returned to my alma mater, the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, as Career and Academic Advisor specializing in the translation and interpretation programs. My first “cultural shock” came when the incoming 1st year students answered my question: “What are your career aspirations?” To my surprise, 90% of them want to become diplomatic interpreters. I applaud them for aiming high, but I also knew the world they graduate into offers them an abundance of career choices. There are many careers within the language field, such as diplomatic interpreting, that can be deeply gratifying and rewarding. My students motivated me to “paint the big picture” and “connect the dots” for the wide spectrum of career choices. I created the “Eco-System for Language Professionals” to paint the possibilities. I want my students to make career choices after they have contemplated their own interests and options rather than going for a default answer.
My graphic depiction attempts to show the possibilities rather than a complete list. I have no doubt that new jobs will continue to show up. All of the jobs here are real and I have held or managed many of these positions during my 25-year career in the language services industry. Language professionals can transition among these positions with the understanding that each move requires education (formal or informal), networking, and diligence.
You may say: “I get it. There are many career options in the language world, but are there really career opportunities for me?” The answer is “yes.” Here are some good news I would like to share with you.
- Big industry: According to Common Sense Advisory, the outsourced language services is worth US$38.16 billion in 2015. Please not this amount does not account for the money spent by government and NGOs on providing language services.
- High growth: Common Sense Advisory is predicting that this market will grow to $47 billion in 2018.
- Globalization helps us: According to Byte Level Research, the top 25 websites support an average of 52 languages.
- New U.S. import tax law helps: The U.S. raised the import duty exemptions in April, 2016. Overseas eCommerce merchants are expected to increase their efforts to reach U.S. consumers which will create opportunities to localize communication into English.
If you choose to live in this eco-system, with exposure and focused learning, you have many future career options to move into. What are your thoughts?
Career & Academic Advisor