Lesson 64: Market research resources for translators and interpreters

Lesson 64: Market research resources for translators and interpreters

As promised, this week I’m looking at market research resources for translators and interpreters. The main aim of this article is to collect resources or suggestions where to look for them that you can use when researching your particular markets. But before we move into specific examples, let’s look at the scope of resources we have available.

Firstly, it’s important to distinguish resources and business intelligence about our own industry, that is, translation and interpreting, from domain- or field- or trade-related resources, i.e. resources about the industries we specialise in. Increasingly, newcomers to translation invest time and effort into finding out the ground rules, but many still are unaware of the variety of resources. I think it’s essential to read up and study about the industry you primarily work in, so I decided to include some of the most useful and comprehensive resources I came across. But let’s not limit ourselves to reading about the translation industry. We want to (or have to) specialise, therefore knowing our field-related markets inside out is as important as knowing how to translate. And I do encourage you to invest even more time and energy in discovering “other” market.

Then, I’d also like to explain a bit of theory about market research, which I will explore further on in the next post. All we need to know for now is that there are primary and secondary market research resources. Primary resources are basically these that you collect yourself, by way of conducting a survey, or arranging a focus group. It is much less likely (but not unheard of, as you’ll see in the next lesson) that translators or interpreters are going to engage in primary research. Secondary market research resources are already existing resources which describe our markets. Sounds much more approachable, doesn’t it?

Let’s take a look at where we can look for data, then.

Market trends and demand

Secondary market research can be particularly useful when comes to researching market trends. As a good starting point, I recommend this Study on the size of the language industry in the EU. It contains a good outline and plenty of country-specific resources. Mapping best multilingual business practices in the EU is another important report, though again only EU-wide. I also do recommend looking into The Status of the Translation Profession in the European Union report.


Looking outside our own industry, you may want to look at your international Chamber of Commerce. These institutions, apart from organising promising events, often research and survey their members and bilateral business relations. In terms of our fields of specialisation, look into industry-specific publications, trade directories, governmental reports and studies on these specific fields, export reports, or even commercial market research reports (still related to the field you specialise in). Examples of resources are listed here and here.


To learn more about competition, I recommend the same EU reports to start with. Many more of them are available here. You’ll find plenty of information on websites of translation agencies or other translators in your language combination, for that matter. You may also want to look at internet fora for translators or LinkedIn discussion groups. You’ll find plenty of news on ELIA, ATC and GALA websites (for example member surveys).


As I mentioned in the last post, it seems to me that finding reliable partners in providing our services is one of key areas of running a business. The best way to do that I’ve discovered are industry events, where you can meet people face to face. If you can’t, internet fora or mailing lists are a good solution, too.

Rates and charges

The best and most reliable sources of researching rates and charges are primary resources which I’m going to discuss in the next post. However, there are some secondary resources available that are very helpful indeed. I suggest starting with professional translation organisations which often conduct member surveys. For example, take a look at BDÜ, SFT or CIOL/ITI surveys.

Professional organisations

A thorough analysis of translation-related professional organisations is contained in The Status of the Translation Profession in the European Union report. However, it’s equally important that you look into your regional associations, too. What I’d like to underline in this point is that we should be researching associations related to the fields of our expertise, too. They are a good starting point for familiarising ourselves with the markets we operate on, and often contain invaluable market data on our potential clients.

Qualifications and CPD

Perhaps the best sources of information about qualifications available are translation-related professional organisations and universities. In terms of CPD, I found the International Calendar of Events very useful, MultiLingual as well as ELIA’s calendar and networking with colleagues. It’s also vital that you keep up with qualifications and CPD events in your areas of specialisation.

Legal/regulatory/tax requirements

Professional organisations are again quite reliable when comes to providing legal, regulatory and tax information. However, I do recommend looking at official governmental sources, too, like gov.uk for the UK.

What are the important resources that I’ve missed? Share in the comments, and I’ll happily add them to the article!


  1. Véronqiue Stone , on Sep 26, 2013 at 15:35 Reply

    Thank you so much for this series on Market research. It is thought provoking and is helping me shaping a plan to tackle it.

  2. Monica Vlad , on Oct 3, 2013 at 08:20 Reply

    Hello Marta and thank you for a great read!

    I am browsing through the EU bookshop materials right now and I think it is a good resource for finding some points of reference when researching the translation market. Thanks for sharing!


  3. Ana Mongelos García , on Dec 18, 2013 at 14:19 Reply

    Hello, Marta,
    Thank you for this post!
    I clicked on the links to download the reports on translation, but when I clicked on “Mapping best multilingual business practices in the EU” it redirected me to another lesson of your blog, but I have googled the report by its title and found it. Thanks again!

  4. Konstantin Dranch , on Mar 19, 2015 at 10:52 Reply

    For me, the latest reports from ALC the association were the most interesting. They have the most information that is relevant, and in a concise form.

    LSPs will of course quote CSA.

  5. Jamie , on May 27, 2016 at 13:32 Reply

    Hello! Useful article, thanks for sharing! I would also like to suggest an online resource (website) http://l10nhub.com/ where translators and people interested in the translation and l10n world can read fresh and interesting articles. It might be useful.

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