Industry Trends

Emsi Language Services Industry Overview Projects Growth

Jonathan Pyner

Emsi, a data modeling firm based in the United States, recently gave MultiLingual a look at its third quarter 2020 data set on the US language services industry, providing a status of job postings as well as the industry’s projected growth over the next two years. The industry has seen steady growth over the past few years, although the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a disruption and re-organization in demand. Here are a few takeaways from the report.

As of 2019, translators and interpreters made up over 40,000 jobs in the US, with average annual earnings of over $50,000. The report projects growth of over 19% by 2022, though these numbers depend on region. For example, the San Francisco Bay Area’s southern regions exceed the national growth average at around 23%, whereas the San Diego region projects a slower rate of 14%, according to the report.

Most jobs are found under the category of “Other Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services,” making up almost 40% of jobs in 2019. The “Other” category represented over 20%, while “Education and Hospitals” at the local level followed at around 17%. Both population size and region play a role in job rate with California, Texas, and New York leading.

The job demand remained steady between early 2017 and 2020, but Emsi reports a rise in demand in 2020, corresponding with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and health-related language services. The past couple months have seen a return to the national average.

LanguageLine Solutions represented the majority of unique job postings with over 20,000, and Soliant Health, Inc had over 6,000 postings. The top three job titles are bilingual interpreters, interpreters, and sign language interpreters, and the top hard skills for job postings are language translation, pronunciation, and language interpretation.

Among both industry and language-specific occupations, age demographics spread fairly evenly among people between 19-64, with the highest concentration of those 25-34 years of age. Furthermore, women make up around two-thirds of the industry, with well over two-thirds of those holding language service occupations. White workers also hold most industry positions at 70% but hold less than 50% of language occupations, with Hispanic or Latino workers representing the next highest demographic at around one-third of workers.



Figure 1: Emsi’s predicted regional trends in translation and interpretation jobs.

In terms of educational training, most in the industry hold a bachelor’s degree, though as many as 20% hold a master’s degree or higher. Spanish language and literature ranks highest among educational programs, with University of Wisconsin-Madison, UCLA, and BYU ranking among the top schools.

Emsi data comprises a hybrid dataset derived from official government sources such as the US Census Bureau, Bureau of Economic Analysis, and Bureau of Labor Statistics. Leveraging the unique strengths of each source, the data modeling team creates an authoritative dataset that captures more than 99% of all workers in the United States. This core offering is then enriched with data from online social profiles, resumés, and job postings to give a complete view of the workforce.