The highs of 2019 might seem like a distant memory now, six months into 2020, the year in which coronavirus dominated the news and prompted the worst decline in the global economy since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
The Slator Language Industry Job Index fell more than 17 percentage points in 2020 to June 2020, and there are numerous anecdotal reports of layoffs and furloughing across the industry, even as stakeholders try to control the damage.
Against this backdrop, employment statistics from 2019 may not be reflective of the current situation; but they do offer a glimpse into how the language industry job market in the US was trending before the pandemic and compared to prior years.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (US BLS) released its job statistics for 2019 in its annual Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH), which tracks job growth, compensation, and more.
The OOH is compiled using data from the the semiannual BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey, which produces estimates for around 800 occupations. It includes data relating to sign language interpreters and does not collect data from self-employed individuals.
According to the OOH, translators and interpreters earned a median wage of USD 51,830 or USD 24.92 per hour in May 2019. Compared to 2018, the median wage and median pay-per-hour rose US Translators and Interpreters Wages Rose 3.8% in 2019.
In 2019, the lowest paid 10% of translators and interpreters earned less than USD 28,170, and the highest 10% earned more than USD 94,370, an increase of 3.5% and 4.1%, respectively, from 2018.
The highest paid translators and interpreters worked in professional, scientific, and technical services and were paid a median wage of USD 57,450 in May 2019. They were followed closely by those working in government, who were paid USD 57,370 in median annual salary.
The US BLS also provides a comparison across similar occupations. On the upper and lower ends of the spectrum, technical writers earned a median USD 72,850 in May 2019, while medical transcriptionists earned USD 33,830. The average wage across all occupations in May 2019 was USD 39.810.
Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) from the US BLS provides data of a mean average basis, unlike the OOH, which displays median figures. The OES also breaks down a number of labor statistics by state and area.
Based on the OES, the top paying states for employed translators and interpreters are Virginia, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and Maine.
Among metropolitan areas, Washington DC, San Francisco, and New York all featured on the list of the top 10 paying metropolitan areas for employed translators and interpreters.