The current sentiment of translators in 2023

Autumn 2023 Survey: A Deep Dive into the Current Sentiments of Translators

In the wake of the Autumn 2023 Pulse Survey, the International Translation Institute (ITI) has unveiled some intriguing insights into the sentiments of its members. The results paint a vivid picture of the challenges and opportunities faced by professionals in the translation and interpreting sector. As we delve into the findings, it becomes evident that the current economic climate and the rise of generative AI technology are at the forefront of members' concerns.

A Decline in Positivity

The survey indicates a noticeable dip in members' optimism towards the business environment. Only 38% of respondents expressed a 'very positive' or 'positive' sentiment about their work and future prospects. This figure marks the lowest since the pandemic's peak in Autumn 2020. Interestingly, interpreters, as well as those who juggle both translating and interpreting roles, are more upbeat, with 53% feeling positive. In contrast, a mere 35% of translators share this optimism.

Work Dynamics: The Good and The Bad

While the survey highlights some challenges, it also reveals silver linings. A concerning 46% of members noted a decrease in work volume from existing clients, up from 41% in the previous survey. However, on the brighter side, 63% have successfully onboarded new clients in the past six months. This resilience and adaptability underscore the industry's ability to diversify its client base amidst challenges.

Earnings: A Mixed Bag

When it comes to earnings, the landscape appears relatively stable. 57% of respondents reported consistent earnings per word, contract, or hour over the past year. Although 21% experienced a dip in earnings, an equal percentage (22%) saw an improvement.

Adapting to Economic Challenges

The survey sheds light on the strategies employed by members to navigate economic hurdles. Many are diversifying their client portfolios, while others are seeking supplementary work outside the profession or cutting back on their working hours in translation and interpreting.

Expanding Services

For the first time, the Pulse survey delved into the additional services offered by translators and interpreters. A mere 13% reported offering no supplementary services. The most popular add-on services include proofreading (72%) and editing (54%).

Generative AI: A Game-Changer?

Generative AI's emergence has stirred a mix of curiosity and concern among ITI members. The survey aimed to gauge members' understanding and sentiments towards this groundbreaking technology. On average, members rated their understanding of AI's impact on the industry at 2.8 out of 5. While 83% haven't incorporated AI into their workflow, the 17% who have, utilize it for tasks like idea generation, content summarization, and administrative duties.

However, when asked about AI's long-term impact on the sector, the average score was a slightly pessimistic 2.3 out of 5. These insights will play a pivotal role in shaping ITI's AI action plan.

Training for the Future

ITI's commitment to supporting its members is evident. When asked about desired training, a significant 50% expressed interest in courses that highlight the value of human translators and interpreters. Additionally, there's a growing demand for training in marketing tools and techniques, emphasizing the need for business skills in the evolving landscape.

The Autumn 2023 Pulse Survey offers a comprehensive look into the current state of the translation and interpreting sector. While challenges persist, the resilience and adaptability of ITI members shine through. As the industry continues to evolve, professionals are poised to navigate the changing tides with determination and innovation.