Chasing Status: The Sustainability of the Freelance Translation Profession in the United Kingdom



Partners and collaborators

Institute of Translation and Interpreting


Despite the value of the language services industry, there are growing concerns about the long-term sustainability of the translation profession in the United Kingdom, especially in light of technological developments like machine translation. In particular, both new and experienced freelance professionals have anxieties over rates of pay, status, and working conditions. Yet, freelance translators often express considerable satisfaction with their work despite the challenges that they face, pointing to an interesting paradox between motivations and satisfaction.

This project will comprise a large-scale survey of professional translators and focus groups with members of regional networks of the Insitute of Translation and Interpreting across the United Kingdom. These will help us to better understand the various factors playing into the current professional climate. This research will provide much-needed practitioner-focused data on the oft-neglected human side of the industry, all too frequently masked by financial data and bold claims about technological breakthroughs. We anticipate that it will provide a strong foundation to effect change and support a sense of ethical responsibility relating to the long-term sustainability of this vital economic industry.

The outputs from this research will bring to light both the opportunities and challenges facing professional translators amid the unique social, economic, and political conjuncture at play in the United Kingdom. The findings will be fed back into the industry in various forms (conference presentations, reports, articles, etc.) with a view to reaching a broad cross-section of language service providers, freelance translators, and regional and national association leaders. It will therefore serve as a springboard for further research exploring the complex agency relationships between key stakeholders (clients, language service providers, freelance practitioners, technology developers) and understanding the factors contributing to the status quo.