Are History & Health and Fitness suitable specialisation fields?
Thread poster: Montalbano

United Kingdom
Nov 6, 2015

Hi guys,

I'm looking to get started in translation and I have read about the importance of having a specialisation. I'm 27 and never really took to a subject at university other than modern languages, and I don't think count as a specialisation (?), so I thought about my interests and hobbies (advice from an article on here), which are health and fitness (I know a great deal about fitness and specifically weightlifting as I've been using gyms since I was 16) and also history (particularly the 15th-17th century time-periods).

Do you think these are adequate specialisations to trade-off? I know that gym culture is prevalent in many countries now all across the world. I also dabble in photography if this is suitable.

If anyone could ease give me some advice, perhaps whether to pursue these fields or not, I would be very grateful. As you may have guess, my target language is English and my source languages are French, Spanish and Italian.


Vanda Nissen  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:49
Member (2008)
English to Russian
+ ...
Yes Nov 7, 2015

The fact you are interested in these fields is already a big advantage. As a matter of fact, there are not that many translators who specialise in fitness, recreation and sport, and the field is quite popular.

As for history, I think you can certainly offer your services to the Spanish, Italian and French Universities - using a native English editor who knows and likes history would be beneficial for academic publications.


Kristina Cosumano  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:49
Member (2015)
German to English
Good question Nov 7, 2015

Hi, and welcome.

I list history as a specialty because I have experience with it, enjoy it, and feel with my particular writing skills I can offer something that the tech/legal/medical experts perhaps can't. That said, in my experience there is almost no call for it on jobs boards or from agencies.

If you are looking to occupy a niche where you can earn some money, I would suggest taking the Health & Fitness field and expanding it. Just some suggestions off the top of my head: all the terms used in professional sports, in sports betting (because they would need translators who understand the game), in sports equipment (the technical terms used for for anything from ski lifts to tennis rackets), the terminology of sports energy drinks, the language of professional cycling, that sort of thing. Your experience with the gym can help -- ask the manager what kind of literature the gym gets – brochures for new equipment, maintenance manuals of what they have there, etc. That will give you an idea of what's being translated in that field.

Hope this helps.


Teresa Borges
Local time: 18:49
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Specialisation... Nov 7, 2015

I have been translating full-time for over 40 years plus a few years part-time before that and my main rule has been: only translate what you like. Translation is a very solitary job, which involves long hours spent alone working under the stress of short deadlines and if you're always dealing with uninspiring texts boredom will be at bay. So, focus on a passion, be it history or health and fitness, and… remain open to other passions!

PS I started out as a generalist and specialised along the way, but times were quite different in those days!


Peter Shortall  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:49
French to English
+ ...
Compromise might be necessary Nov 7, 2015

It would be wonderful if we could all make a living by translating only the subjects that interest us, but in reality, that isn't possible for everyone. Like KristinaC, I love translating texts about history (among other things), but I couldn't possibly make a living from that alone as it's rare for my clients to send me texts on that subject.

If I were you, I would at least remain open to the idea of seeking a compromise between what the market wants and what you want to translate. If you want to make a living from translation, you need to be prepared to translate what people are willing to pay for, while at the same time avoiding work that you know is beyond your abilities. You may even find that you can become interested in fields you hadn't thought about, and in fact, what I like most about translating is simply working with languages in general. I like coming across interesting new words and terms that relate to any field, so far from minding if a legal text I'm working on contains a couple of construction terms, I welcome the challenge (as long as it's just a couple!)

So if you are at least moderately interested in a subject that you find is in demand and isn't too difficult for you, it would make a lot of sense to specialize in that rather than something else that you love but isn't in demand. I don't know anything about the Italian and Spanish markets; as for French-English, no one has ever asked me to translate anything about health and fitness, weightlifting or photography, but then perhaps that's because I don't advertise myself as a specialist in these fields. You'll only find out when you try.

[Edited at 2015-11-07 11:24 GMT]


Rachel Waddington  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:49
Member (2014)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Agency or direct clients? Nov 7, 2015

The answer may differ depending on whether you want to work for agencies or are prepared to put in the extra work to find direct clients.

In my experience, agencies will not usually go to great lengths to pair translations up with translators in fields as specific as gym equipment or history. They will want someone who they can go to for a wide range of fields that fall broadly within categories such as 'technical', financial' or 'legal'. If a glossy brochure on gym equipment comes in they will not scour their database for a gym equipment specialist, but will look for someone who can translate marketing materials in a more general sense, relying on them to pick up what they need to know through research.

On the other hand, if you are willing to spend time visiting trade fairs for gym equipment manufacturers (possibly in your source language country), and generally invest a good bit of time and money into sales and marketing then I see no reason why this could not be a lucrative field. Translators specialise in all sorts of things!


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