Why Do LSPs Contract Linguists?

By United Language Group

Spurred by globalization, international expansion within organizations, and increased migration patterns, growth in the language solutions industry has been accelerating at a rapid pace.

According to the American Translators Association, in the U.S. alone, the number of translators and interpreters almost doubled between 2008 and 2015. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also projects that employment for interpreters and translators will grow by 18 percent from 2016 to 2026, which is significantly higher than the average projected growth for all other occupations during this time frame.

While many of these translators and interpreters work for Language Solutions Providers (LSPs) and formal translation agencies, others choose to work as freelancers. LSPs often work closely with these freelancers depending on project needs, desired skills, and company workload.

Here are some of the main reasons why LSPs hire contract linguists and why this arrangement is beneficial to both parties.

Working with contractors ensures that all language projects are appropriately staffed, reducing project timelines

If an LSP only relies on in-house employees to complete projects, its ability to take on work will be directly and exclusively dependent on the capacity of those in-house employees. This means the LSP will not have the flexibility to take on more clients or might feel stuck if an existing project requires more resources than initially thought.

However, with the addition of contractors and freelancers, LSPs can accommodate greater demand and take on more projects. When LSPs use contractors rather than put too much strain on in-house translators, each translator can maximize their focus on their projects and ensure these projects are completed to the highest quality standard and according to the established timeline.

Contractors with specific expertise give LSPs a broader range of options in terms of acquiring subject matter experts

Sometimes a client comes along with such a niche specialization that it is difficult to find an in-house translator or interpreter who is familiar with the subject matter and its associated jargon. For example, a scientist working on a project related to a specific microbe must work with a translator who understands his/her field of research.

If such a translator cannot be found within the LSP, working with a contract linguist can help. Using contractors enables LSPs to broaden their offerings in subjects including science, finance, legal, healthcare, and government.

Contractors enable the LSP to offer services in more languages, especially more obscure ones

While LSPs are likely to have in-house staff who are native speakers of the world’s most commonly used languages, like English, Spanish, and Mandarin, clients may request services in languages that are less common or usually limited to a specific country or region, such as Irish or Lao.

In these cases, it is helpful for LSPs to have a network of contractors who can assist with translation and interpreting in even more languages, so they can reduce the time it takes to find a linguist and have more comprehensive offerings. If an interpreter is needed in person, having a contract linguist “on the ground” in that country also saves time and money.

A mutually beneficial partnership

When working with an LSP, contractors gain access to larger clients that otherwise would not be available to them. They also don’t need to do as much marketing to find new projects.

In addition, they can draw upon more advanced technological resources such as machine translation or translation memory and connect with other experts on localization teams. LSPs benefit from contractors’ subject matter expertise and ability to help with projects during a busy season.

Before working with contractors, LSPs employ a vigorous screening process to ensure that these linguists meet or exceed industry standards. LSPs develop strong, recurring relationships with contract linguists who they know they—and in turn, their clients—can trust.

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