Make us your home page
Instagram

Language services are skills are in demand

Dale Eggett, who will soon finish a master's degree, will go right to work, having had no problem landing a job. • "I did have multiple, multiple job offers," said Eggett, whose Spanish and computer skills put him in the forefront of a burgeoning field. The global marketplace for interpreting, translating and other language services was estimated at $26.3 billion in 2010 and is projected to reach $38.1 billion by 2013.

Most people are familiar with translators, who deal with the written word. Interpreters handle oral communication in government agencies, courtrooms, doctors' offices and businesses.

But Eggett, 28, of California, who will graduate from the Monterey Institute of International Studies, will be paid $50,000 a year to work in a relatively new discipline: localization management, which provides one of the best chances for steady employment in language services.

Localization combines language expertise with computer savvy. "I'm kind of behind the scenes, making the job easier for translators," Eggett said. When a website needs to be translated, it's Eggett's job to strip out the coding and send the translator only what needs to be translated.

Like many other sectors, language services face unique challenges, said Jiri Stejskal, president of Cetra Language Solutions in Elkins Park, Pa., a company that supplies translators, interpreters and localization experts to a range of clients.

One issue is machine translation. "It's not quite there yet," Stejskal said. He pulled out a screen grab of a Philadelphia government website that used the journalism term "lead story" on its home page. In Spanish, it morphed into a "story about metal."

But a more fundamental and ongoing struggle is to educate employers about the difference between being simply bilingual and truly qualified.

Top interpreters need to hear what is said and speak it in another language simultaneously. That's the U.N. gold standard, and high proficiency can merit a six-figure income.

"Knowing how to cook doesn't make you a chef," Stejskal said.

Translators typically get paid by the word. Anne Connor, president of the Delaware Valley Translators Association, loves if the client pays by the Spanish word. Spanish uses more words than English to convey the same idea. Freelance translators can earn $60,000 a year, according to the latest available survey, taken in 2006.

Interpreters can earn considerably less, mainly because they are paid by the hour and jobs may come infrequently. The best chance to earn the most is to work in a highly technical field, or to be certified in a language in demand, such as Arabic.

Language services

Responsibilities: Translators convert written documents. Interpreters handle the spoken word. Localization specialists use computer and linguistic skills to translate websites and handle coding.

Education: At least a college degree, often in a language, plus professional credentials.

Background: Many people have bilingual backgrounds, then study languages extensively.

Pay: Most interpreters and translators work on a freelance basis, finding work through agencies. Translators, paid by the word, can earn $60,000 a year. Interpreters, paid by the hour, average $35,000, but some earn more than $100,000.

Source: Cetra Language Solutions

Language services are skills are in demand 06/14/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 14, 2011 4:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Philadelphia Inquirer.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. No toll lanes north of downtown Tampa in three of four interstate proposals

    Transportation

    TAMPA — Express lanes may not be coming to downtown Tampa after all. Or at least not to the stretch of Interstate 275 that goes north through Bearss Avenue.

    Seminole Heights resident Kimberly Overman discusses the new interstate options with V.M. Ybor resident Chris Vela (left), Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp and HNTB consultant Chloe Coney during a Tampa Bay Express meeting Monday night at the Barrymore Hotel. [CAITLIN JOHNSTON  |  Times]
  2. Pinellas grants St. Pete's request to add millions to pier budget

    Local Government

    Times Staff Writer

    The Pinellas County Commission has granted St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman's request to dedicate millions more toward the city's new pier.

    The St. Petersburg City Council on Thursday  voted 7-1 to appropriate $17.6 million for the over-water portion of the Pier District. This is a rendering of what the new Pier District could look like. [Courtesy of St. Petersburg]
  3. Pinellas licensing board loses support for staying independent

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER –– The Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board on Monday lost its strongest supporter for staying independent.

    State Sen. Jack Latvala, a Clearwater Republican running for governor, said Monday that he will no longer support any legislation to keep the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board independent. This photo was taken in August. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
  4. Triad Retail Media names Sherry Smith as CEO

    Corporate

    ST. PETERSBURG — Triad Retail Media, a St. Petersburg-based digital ads company, said CEO Roger Berdusco is "leaving the company to pursue new opportunities" and a member of the executive team, Sherry Smith, is taking over.

    Sherry Smith is taking over as CEO at Triad Retail Media, the company announced Monday. | [Courtesy of Triad Retail Media]
  5. Two new condo projects for same street in downtown St. Pete

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — It lacks the panache and name recognition of Beach Drive, but 4th Avenue N in downtown St. Petersburg is becoming a condo row in its own right.

    Bezu, a condo project planned at 100 Fourth Ave. NE in downtown St. Petersburg, will have 24 units including a three-level penthouse with infinity pool.
[Courtesy of Clear ph Design]