Environmental Science/Studies/Policy as a specialty
Thread poster: sarahng

Local time: 23:30
Apr 15, 2011

I'm a recent university grad interested in getting into translation as a career. I'm in the very early stages of planning a career and would not be beginning to work anytime soon, but I have a couple of questions.

The environment is a huge passion of mine. I'm wondering if that is a viable specialty, if I were able to translate both the science and policy sides of the field? I mostly hear of business, IT, finance, and law as specialties, but environmental studies does encompass many areas -- agriculture, climate, marine issues, international development, etc. Would someone be able to find enough work to get by on with this specialty? The language pair would be French > English (and possibly eventually Spanish > English, as I'm nowhere near fluent in it but still studying). For additional specialties, I have a degree in psychology with experience related to autism and developmental disabilities, and I could translate culinary texts and cookbooks (I already translate recipes for my own use or to share with friends).

My other question is, assuming it's a viable specialty, what would be the better preparation -- a translation degree or an interdisciplinary environmental studies degree taught in my source language with a lot of practice translating independently or as a volunteer? Would not having translation-specific credentials work against me even if I knew the subject in and out in both languages?


Steven Capsuto  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:30
Member (2004)
Spanish to English
+ ...
You'll probably need a few specialty areas Apr 15, 2011

I list this as one my main specialties, but I only get one or two jobs a year related to environmental issues. On the positive side, they tend to be longer than most of the other projects I get, but I wouldn't be able to survive on this subject area alone. Wouldn't even come close.

[Edited at 2011-04-15 20:10 GMT]


Sarah Swift  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:30
German to English
You may already have come across this... Apr 15, 2011

...but if you haven't, I'm sure you'll find it interesting:

http://ecotranslator.blogspot.com -


Cecilia Vela Segovia-Frund, CT  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:30
Member (2003)
English to Spanish
An interesting article Apr 15, 2011

You may want to read an interesting article from ATA Chronicle:

Going Green: Translating Environmental Texts
By Abigail Dahlberg


In my case I pursued a career in Translation & Linguistics, and later obtained a Postgraduate Certificate in Environmental Management from the Faculty of Engineering of a local University. I also work part-time as an Environmental Analyst.

I believe that to be a good environmental translator you need to be skilled in legal translation (protocols, regulations), technical translation (a sound chemistry knowledge is desirable) and marketing/educational translation.

Regarding educational resources, in some countries you have lots of free seminars and conferences to get a self-paced education. You may also attend paid environmental seminars from standarization organizations (Association française de normalisation or similar).

As the article says, this is a niche market, therefore you may need some other specializations to have a steady workflow.



Maria Amorim (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:30
Swedish to Portuguese
+ ...
Some other words Apr 15, 2011

I really think it is a viable specialty, I should say, as a former chemical and environmental engineer. And I also believe one do best what ones really like. But probably you should ask yourself about your own ability to market yourself, to find the right clients and contacts. Unfortunately this is what mostly moves this translation market as any other market, not only the mind´s brilliance, the knowledge or the passion for a subject.

Go ahead, specialize yourself within a certain domain in the environmental field, but search the market.

Good luck!

[Edited at 2011-04-15 21:21 GMT]


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