Most common types of translation
Thread poster: Daniel Lee Mimnagh

Daniel Lee Mimnagh  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:16
French to English
+ ...
Jul 8, 2014

I'm interested to hear what 'type' of documents/translations seem to be most sought after in your experience. Particularly if you have worked within/for agencies - has there been a particular field or sector which has dominated other types of translation? I imagine legal translations would be a very popular one, perhaps followed by medical translation. I'm just finding a little difficult to find solid facts surrounding this and would like to hear from a translator's perspective.


LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:16
Russian to English
+ ...
Hi. Contracts. Jul 8, 2014

I am a little busy right now to discuss it, but contacts --in my experience and criminal records.


Phil Hand  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:16
Chinese to English
Experience vs stats Jul 9, 2014

I don't think your question makes much sense. Out of all the millions of translators in the world, a single person's experience is not significant at all. I've received requests for a whole range of document types, but I assume those are mostly the documents that the agencies thought I was competent to do, not a reflection of demand. If you want stats, you can look to people who write stats, like the Common Sense Advisory.

In general, there is enough translation work out there for everyone, in many, many areas. So long as you don't choose too narrow a specialism (paleobotany of the cretaceous?), you will be able to find work. Certainly medical and legal are both big fields, but there's also work to be found in finance, corporate, arts, food, etc., etc.


Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:16
Member (2007)
+ ...
With Phil Jul 9, 2014

I'm sure there's an awful lot of translation of medical matters going on, but only because I've heard it said: not one word has ever been offered to me.


Helen Hagon  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:16
Member (2011)
Russian to English
+ ...
Very general question Jul 9, 2014

I think the lack of solid facts is because the question is too general. Looking at the jobs board on will give you a very vague idea of the kinds of projects which exist, but that is really only the tip of the iceberg. Different agencies will require more of some kinds of translation and less of others, depending on who their main customers are. Medical, legal, business, engineering etc. are all major subject areas, but they are umbrella terms for a whole range of specialisms. Someone who specialises in electrical engineering, for example, will not necessarily be familiar with automotive engineering terminology, and there are many branches of medicine, law etc, all with their own particular vocabulary. Working with direct customers narrows specialisms down further still. Also, language combinations and other factors. e.g. geographical location, availability, software and so on ad infinitum, will have an effect on the kind of work available.


Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:16
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Go for quality, not quantity Jul 9, 2014

The important thing is to decide what you want to specialise in, and get really good at it. Translating can be tough enough when you least expect it, but if you come out on top it is also a learning experience and very satisfying - and your clients will be satisfied too. So they will come back, and you will have plenty of work.

There will inevitably be sleepless nights, but if you are constantly struggling and out of your depth, then you cannot keep going and keep clients happy. You can only deliver so much each week, month or year, so eventually quantity does not matter so much.

Some agencies specialise in a particular area, especially the smaller or medium-sized ones. Then they can offer advisory services and added value for their clients, even though they cannot cover the whole market.

I would maintain that nobody can cover the whole market, or only very superficially.

I think many people are surprised at the levels of technical expertise required for a lot of translation work, and this is where you can both win and lose out. When it comes to engineering, industrial user manuals and serious technology, for instance, it is not enough to be a qualified linguist and fluent in both languages. You really have to understand the engineering.

Or law, or medical Latin, hospital procedures and radiology, whatever.
Or a combination, in for instance tendering documents, which I have battled with on occasions. Here you need to know the legal side AND the precise terminology for the technical construction - which applies to the sales and maintenance contracts as well.

There are vast amounts of technical translation which (thank heaven!) I never see. But I know a couple of colleagues who know what they are doing and enjoy the challenge.


LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:16
Russian to English
+ ...
Oh, I thought you were inquiring about legal translation mostly. Jul 9, 2014

Otherwise, medical and pharmaceutical are quite strong--always a lot of work, but you may need to study some medical profession or biochemistry for a while in addition to being completely fluent in two language to do that type of translation.

[Edited at 2014-07-09 14:20 GMT]


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:

You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Most common types of translation

Advanced search

SDL Trados Studio 2019 Freelance
The leading translation software used by over 250,000 translators.

SDL Trados Studio 2019 has evolved to bring translators a brand new experience. Designed with user experience at its core, Studio 2019 transforms how new users get up and running and helps experienced users make the most of the powerful features.

More info »
Déjà Vu X3
Try it, Love it

Find out why Déjà Vu is today the most flexible, customizable and user-friendly tool on the market. See the brand new features in action: *Completely redesigned user interface *Live Preview *Inline spell checking *Inline

More info »

  • All of
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search