Humans have always moved around. And as long as there have been trade and business, there has been multilingual communication.
The language service industry is the business activity that helps others to communicate across linguistic and cultural barriers. In recent times, the need for language services has grown rapidly because of the internet, globalization of business, increased government requirements, diversifying communities, and a more interconnected world population. Some new technological products have helped our industry innovate. But complete and trusted language solutions still depend on comprehensive services, and the companies that have decades of expertise in what you need.
Some services in the industry include:
Converting written text from one language (source) to another (target), keeping the same information, style, and tone.
Rendering spoken or signed communication between users of different languages.
Adapting content (often websites and software) for a specific locale or market to ensure that it is appropriate for the target audience linguistically, culturally, politically, and technically.
Converting audio recordings in one language to written text in another language.
Adding text to video that displays the audio track either verbatim, summarized, or translated.
Creating a new audio track for video, either to add a disembodied voice or narration (voiceover), or to replace the voices of the original actors with voices in a different language (dubbing).
Helping others acquire skills in a second or foreign language using a coordinated curriculum and process.
Evaluating or measuring an individual’s ability to use a particular language effectively, sometimes for specific purposes.
LSCs work with people and companies in many industry sectors—from medical to government, technology to legal, education to finance. You’ll find translators, interpreters, language trainers, and other language service professionals in hospitals, courts, schools and universities, government offices, and military bases.
The biggest industry you’ve never heard of
Worldwide, the industry in 2016 was worth approximately $40.3 billion. (Common Sense Advisory)
North America is the second largest market for language services, at about 35% of all spending. (Statista)
About one in five residents of the United States speaks a language other than English at home. (U.S. Census Bureau)
More than 3,000 U.S. companies employee more than 55,000 people in the language services industry. (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)
And it’s growing quickly!
The number of companies under the Translation and Interpretation NAICS code (541930) doubled from 2008 to 2015. (U.S. Census Bureau)
A report by the Centre for Next Generation Localisation places language services as the fourth fastest-growing industry in the United States. (CNGL)
The number of jobs in translation and interpretation services will increase 29% from 2017 to 2024. (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
The industry will have a cumulative growth rate of 11.77% from 2017 to 2020. (CSA)
By 2020, the industry is forecast to grow by $5 billion to reach $45 billion. (CSA)
With thousands of companies providing a wide variety of services, learn more about LSCs and how to choose the best one for you.
Learn more about the language service industry, both in the United States and abroad, in our annual ALC Industry Survey.