Telephone Interpreting in 2020

January 13, 2020 |

Telephone interpreting may have a relatively short history, but it is a field that is constantly evolving, and many interesting developments are currently underway.

Today, telephone interpreting in the United States is provided mainly through for-profit companies. Large hospitals systems use telephone interpreting as a way to pool resources. Many large organizations have opened up their own call centers with in-house telephone interpreters. Non-profit language banks use telephone interpreters as a way to cut costs and expand their reach, as well as the number of languages offered. Smaller organizations such as law firms, clinics, health centers, real estate agencies have also entered the market. Therefore the size of the market for telephone interpreting is steadily increasing as time goes on.

Ongoing quality control is an essential and standard component of the daily operations of most large-scale telephone interpreting providers. A few of the leading telephone interpreting providers in the United States have invested in their quality-control programs through leading industry experts, professors of major universities with programs of interpreting and translation.

In addition, some providers have gone further to create actual certification processes for their interpreters both for general purposes and for specific industries. This is not to say that all providers are equal. Some telephone interpreting adhere so rigorous processes to ensure quality to their customers and have developed their own codes of ethics for telephone interpreters.

How it Works

In a traditional telephone interpreting session, there are four parties involved: the client, the LEP (limited language proficient) party, the agent, and the telephone interpreter. From the client perspective, accessing telephone interpreting services is very simple. The client, usually an employee of a company that provides products and services to individuals who speak a different language, dials a 800 number to access the telephone interpreting service in four step:

  1. Dialing the service: The telephone: The client contacts the telephone interpreting service provider.
  2. Data Collection: The telephone interpreting service provider’s agent receives the call and asks for the client’s account information and language needed.
  3. Interpreter connection: The agent connects a telephone interpreter within seconds for the requested language to the line.
  4. Session initiation: The telephone interpreting session begins.

Billing and Tracking

By tracking the account number and client name, telephone interpreting companies are able to identify information for the individual placing the call, by means of a personal identification number or user name. This enables the client company to track its call statistics in order to analyze the information and determine the differences and similarities between the various locations that access the service. The analysis of call data thus enables the client company to identify trends in usage over a given period of time and make well-informed business decisions related to the provision of language services to its customers, which helps them improve language access and general levels of customers service. Also, the analysis of these statistics may support the client company making additional decisions to enhance operations, revise processes, and improve overall effectiveness.


While English is still a top language for communicating in the US, other languages are gaining popularity too. And there’s a demand for interpreting into more languages than ever before.

Spanish is the native language of 20+ countries, including almost all the Latin American countries, as well as Spain. Even in the United States, more than 37 million people speak Spanish as their first language. It’s the second most used language online, after English.


Telephone interpreting services are not a one-size-fits-all business. More companies and interpreters are choosing to specialize by industry. The following industries are seeing the most growth.

  • Medical for healthcare providers, doctors, and specialized health centers.
  • Legal for international clients.
  • Business and Finance primarily in the areas of finance, and corporate communications.
  • Industry and Technical – for manufacturing and exporting of products and services.
  • Utility companies for client communication
  • Insurance and banking for client services

More Corporate Globalization

Trade and the flow of people, information, and capital has increased considerably. For companies expanding in international markets, localization is an important part of gaining local community acceptance.

As we’ve mentioned above, an increase in globalization means communicating an increasing amount of content into more languages than ever before.

Selecting a Telephone Interpreting Provider

As is the case when shopping for any service or product, it is important to become an informed consumer. Therefore, a good first step when comparing telephone interpreting providers is to understand as much as possible about the industry.

At Alpha Omega Translations, we see all these trends continuing well into 2020 and beyond. As your organization evolves, let us help you adapt to these changing translation needs. Access our free e-books and guides HERE.

Category: Translation Services

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