Trends in the language services industry: What, me worry?

What concerns freelance language professionals most at the moment?


There is a lot to worry about, and everyone’s situation and career path is different. But there are recurring concerns that come up over and over in general among freelance language professionals. Most of the concerns themselves are the same, and most of them are shared concerns with freelancers in any industry, but by paying attention to changes in priority or prevalence it is possible to get a feel for what, if anything, is new.
The main concerns expressed by freelance translators and interpreters in 2022, in order of prevalence, can be summed up like this:
  1. Getting clients/work
  2. Work - life balance
  3. Downward pressure on pricing/rates
  4. Pressure for greater speed/turnaround
  5. Keeping existing clients
  6. Keeping up with new technology
  7. Greater demand for higher quality


Work. Life. Balance?


Getting new clients and getting more work has always been at the top of the list of concerns, a main preoccupation of the freelance language professional. And it’s a big thing, everything else hinges on that, right? 
At the same time, if you ask around in 2022 you will find that, while it is secure in its position at number one, it is less concerning than it has been in previous years, and the usual number two on the list, concern over rates, has dropped a position. Greater “concern bandwidth” is currently going towards work-life balance.

The last two years or so have been tough, in many ways. We’re all a little beat up, still trying to figure out “the new normal”, still waiting to see how some things will turn out. In our current context, it makes sense that a greater number of freelance language professionals are paying more attention to work-life balance, taking stock of where they are in their careers and where they want to go from a new perspective, and making changes which are healthy for their businesses and for themselves as individuals.


Quotes from language professionals:

Today I work tons and earn tons. But I'm 56 years old and don't know how long I can continue working 12 hrs per day 7 days a week with no vacation. In addition, post-editing is constantly increasing and requires a lot of work for half the pay. For the moment I've been able to refuse such jobs and remain with traditional translations but I don't know how much longer this will be possible. So I'm opening a restaurant in July and possibly a B&B next year.

I have a full-time job as a forensic anthropologist, which I love, but the payment is lower than the amount I need to live the life I desire, so I am looking for opportunities to start a side business as a freelance translator and possibly, if things go well, dedicate more time to translation than my current job. I love both, but being a translator is far more profitable than being a professor, with the space and time limitations the second carries, that are usually not a problem being a freelance translator. I would love to have more income and more freedom to choose where I am. I moved from the city I used to live in to have a better quality of life and be closer to my parents. Having a successful translation career will add to that quality of life, since I'd be free to manage my time and effort.


Industry report, 2022


This is an excerpt of the most recent industry report. To read the full report, you can go to industry reports are periodic publications that take a look at trends, challenges, and opportunities in the language services industry, from the perspective of the freelance language professional. paying members enjoy immediate, full access to these reports.





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Topics: translation, interpreting, language services industry

Jared Tabor

Written by Jared Tabor

Jared oversees Member services at An ex-language teacher, he has lived and worked in Argentina since 1996. He has been with through the La Plata office since 2007. You can follow him on Twitter, @taboredinc .

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