COVID-19 and the Role of Translators and Interpreters

While the COVID-19 pandemic won’t last forever, it’s safe to say that the social and economic effects of the virus will still be felt for some time after the dust has settled. As a result, it’s understood that there will of course be certain industries that will have a harder time bouncing back, as well as some that will thrive in the midst and aftermath of the pandemic.

The language services industry has taken a significant hit because of this. In fact, according to some research studies, these services have seen a whopping 55% decline since August 2020.

The “new normal” for at least half of all language and communication professionals means experiencing a hard but temporary shift from traditional face-to-face services to working from home in some cases.

Although the use of technology is not new to these types of professionals, this shift has many struggling to adopt new software and other tools and add new work habits to their already demanding skill sets. But for those who can keep up with and meet these new requirements, it would seem that there is a growing need for specific translator and interpreter roles that will likely increase with time.


Translator and Interpreter Services in the Age of COVID-19

Although the need for translation and interpretation services has seen an overall decline in the past year, some of these experts are still needed for face-to-face assistance. In places like hospitals, where patients may not know enough English to understand and be understood by doctors, or for those who assist with ASL or other sign language translation, these experts often have more work than they can handle.

There are other industries that have experienced an increased demand for language services due to COVID-19, sectors such as:

  • Healthcare
  • IT services
  • Government services to the public
  • News outlets

It could be argued that the COVID-19 pandemic has actually provided an opportunity to strengthen and evolve communication and language services in certain areas, such as language interpreting in healthcare facilities (both in-person and remotely) and translation of public health communications as well as of urgent medical research. In these cases, professional language service providers should be your first option since they will have trained linguists that can handle the more specialized requirements.



As people return to work and things slowly get back to normal, it’s likely that the language service industry will see a higher percentage of staff working in person again, with new tools and stronger skills, some of which will have been put to the test during the pandemic.