A brief recent New York Times article on translation and the job market says that there is more need for translators now and that it can be a profitable job (the article only talks about non-fiction translations, such as government documents, and not at all about literary translation, which is why the author can even mention the idea of profitability).
It is nice to see translation highlighted in a major newspaper (usually, if it is mentioned at all, it is only given a cursory sentence in a book review), even if the article seems to focus on translating government documents and on interpreting, which, of course, is not the same as translation and requires different skills.
It’s too bad the article doesn’t mention the need for better language programs in schools in the U.S., since the increased demand for translators will become a problem quickly unless more students start studying foreign languages in depth. The U.S. is far behind other countries in terms of emphasizing the importance of learning multiple languages, and the country needs to stop arrogantly thinking that the rest of the world can learn English and that Americans can remain placidly and lethargically monolingual.
In the U.S., the article says, “certain Middle Eastern and Asian languages have surged in priority in the post 9/11 world.” Learning other languages is beneficial in many ways, of course, including the fact that studying another country’s language and the culture behind it leads to increased understanding, and perhaps fewer conflicts.
The article says that translators are “(w)anted, and in many instances urgently needed,” but where can translators find these jobs? More on that in another post – and any translators who want to share job-finding tips, let me know!