The fall and rise of the translation industry in the time of Covid-19

translation industry

Globalization’s role in translation industry

There is no doubt that one of the biggest industries to benefit from globalization is the translation industry. Over the last 20 or so years, global markets have increased in size thanks to countries becoming interdependent on one another, and the role the internet played in closing the digital gap between nations.

The rapid pace of globalization, along with the ever-increasing volume of content that needs to be translated, has resulted in an incredible expansion of the global translation market. Today, translation is an indispensable tool in communicating with prospective clients from all over the world and reaching out to foreign audiences. To put it another way, translation is a great corporate growth tool when used correctly. It can either make or break a company – an erroneous translation can harm your reputation, result in millions of dollars in losses if a legal document is mistranslated, or even result in death if someone settles for a cheap medical translation.

COVID-19 enters the picture

In March of 2020, COVID-19 entered the picture as a global pandemic. It introduced lockdowns, drove some businesses to a halt, while the rest had to adapt in order to continue to thrive. Its impact was deeply felt by all industries across the world. The translation industry was among those who greatly suffered from this pandemic.


These data are a grim demonstration of how the pandemic has affected the translation industry both professionally and psychologically.

In a study carried out by the French professional association, Société Française des Traducteurs, in mid-June to mid-July 2020, it was shown that out of 526 subjects, 57% believed the pandemic would impact their jobs negatively. 48% of these said they need to take on a side job, 23% of them were thinking of learning a new skill, 15% were considering temporarily discontinuing work, and 7% were thinking of quitting for good.

These data are a grim demonstration of how the pandemic has affected the translation industry both professionally and psychologically. People were faced with the unknown, and these professionals were haunted by the fear that they may eventually lose their jobs, and would have to make a career shift.

Just a month later, another survey was conducted by the CSA Research group. This time the study collected 1,174 responses from 97 countries. The study revealed the same patterns appearing across the translating community – reduced income, fewer work opportunities, decrease in workload.

But there was also a silver lining – although work opportunities in some sectors were declining, in some industries the demand was increasing.


How translators learned to cope

As businesses sought new ways to connect with their employees, prospects, colleagues, and the general public, they also sought the services of translators to help them communicate efficiently. And since most countries were still in varying levels of lockdown, work from home set-ups became the norm.

Companies that provided remote or virtual translation services did not feel the drastic change, but those who had to do this for the first time had to learn new skills. Videoconferencing platforms became the norm.

Certain industries came up with a bigger demand for translation services: eCommerce, the health and medical sectors, as well as life sciences. Medical translation services became highly sought after. The need to share information about this new virus became essential as countries around the world sought to develop a vaccine and manage the disease.

People eagerly awaited new information from professionals in the medical and pharmaceutical industries. They were urged to share new studies, statistics, and discoveries related to the disease throughout the globe. And as the pandemic has taken root, governments had to inform the public about safety protocols, ensuring that everyone knew the proper guidelines regardless of their native tongue. Infographics were created and translated into different languages and dialects for effective and fast dissemination.

As the global economic crisis continued, the demand for medical translation continued to increase. This meant continuing work for translators. Several times in the course of the past two years, new guidelines were continually set in place, all needing translation work.


While the COVID-19 pandemic has caused the downfall of many businesses around the world, it has also created new and better prospects for others.

COVID as a catalyst

This just goes to show that in many cases, COVID simply accelerated some trends in translation. These trends may or may not have happened if COVID did not enter the picture, but the important thing is, it brought the translation industry into a prominent place in the global services.

Aside from medical translation services, the COVID-19 pandemic also saw the rise of digital services to even greater prominence. Although this industry was already gaining momentum even before the pandemic happened, the crisis gave it a big boost. Since there were still many companies that had to adapt to the new manner of doing business, they needed the services of translators to increase their online presence and grab the opportunity to broaden their market. Transcreation or creative translation became a powerful tool to opening doors in the international market that were previously inaccessible.

Translation industry is here to stay

While the COVID-19 pandemic has caused the downfall of many businesses around the world, it has also created new and better prospects for others. The translation industry is one of those who greatly benefited from this crisis, and we believe it is here to stay. That’s why Circle Translations continues to offer the most reliable and accurate translation services to help your business swim in this new ocean of opportunities. As long as there is a need to connect and communicate, there will always be a need for quality translation work and Circle Translations will definitely drive those connections for you.