Which specialization field is the most selling?
Thread poster: Amanda N

Amanda N  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:47
English to Swedish
+ ...
Apr 14, 2016

Hi, I have a question about choosing specialization.

The fewer and more clear specialization fields you offer as a translator the better for the clients it's said. I´m trying to figure out which field(s) I should focus on and offer. At the same time I'm not sure that my specialization fields (education etc) gets too many job offers. I searched for how many jobs had been posted in the Job Listing field the last month (which is the longest period of time you can choose) and there were none in any of my fields (7 fields)

So my question is:

Is there statistics or similar where I could find info on "the most sought-after field" based on my source and target language or country?

Thank you in advance!


Romina Navarro
Local time: 17:47
English to Spanish
The one you're good at ;) Apr 14, 2016

It is better to be the best in your area than trying to do something you don't like because "it sells".

Of course, you may be interested in adding a new specialization, why not? I've heard the ones with higher demand are medicine, pharmaceutics, finances, oil and energy. That will also depend on the main activities in your country/region.

I think there's enough work in your field, maybe you should look somewhere outside ProZ. Do not limit your search to one place. Try to contact directly different schools and universities, offer your services, go to events related to education, do some networking with people in the area. You will see there is a lot of work out there.

Oh, and apart from that, my piece of advice: do not look for "job offers", look for projects/clients to provide your services. This mindset is fundamental: You are not an employee/job seeker but an independent service provider.

Good luck!


[Edited at 2016-04-14 17:37 GMT]


KarmenCota  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:47
Croatian to French
+ ...
Translation in Technical, IT, Telecommunications, Computers Apr 14, 2016

Hi Amanda,

I think that the way you looked for specialization fields in job offers is a good way of searching. Indeed, that’s how you can see that the most sought after fields in translation are in Technical - Engineering Industrial, IT, Telecommunications, Law, Computers…
What is also good is to see the relation of your country in commercial deals with other countries whose languages you speak.
So, try to develop your knowledge in these fields.
I hope that this helps.



Arianne Farah  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:47
Member (2008)
English to French
Financial Apr 14, 2016

It's not the most rock & roll of fields but it's absolutely become my bread and butter.

Finance & pharma are two big money fields, but while pharma is exciting and interesting, it also evolves very fast and you have to keep on top of things.

Finance has the best ROI when it comes to time worked - the turns of phrase are set in stone, if you've done one quarterly report for a company, the other 3 quarters will be 80% matches. You build a glossary per end-client (they're picky - they pay well to get exactly what they want and they expect to get it!). They need perfection in terms of accuracy - style is not an issue, the English is bare, simple, short sentences, but never ever get a number wrong. After half a decade in financial (late specialization, I found out I had a knack at looking at 2 sheets of paper and having my eyes immediately drawn to the one discrepancy, and apparently good financial translators are rare - or that's what I keep hearing), I regret not having specialized in it earlier.


Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:47
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
Defensive too Apr 14, 2016

Arianne Farah wrote:
Good summary

And it's largely recession-proof, provided the company itself survives. You can't not file financial documents, but you can cut marketing, or travel or even R&D if you're desperate. If the documents were originally written in another language, they'll need to put into English...

On the flip-side, it can be complex and there's lots of jargon.



EvaVer  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:47
Member (2012)
Czech to English
+ ...
The fields that any company needs sooner or later Apr 15, 2016

which are legal, finance, marketing, whatever their industry may otherwise be. Sooner or later, every company will also want to develop and will start construction work - but this is a very difficult field. There are also industries that are legally compelled to have things translated - pharma, food, pet food, chemicals...
When I first started 27 years ago, I decided to specialize in agriculture and food, because it is a very vast field, fiendishly difficult, not very glamorous (if you are an interpreter, you go to pigstys, wade through fields in boots...) and therefore I expected nobody would want to do it. It was a good decision, but it would not be enough in itself - there is not an enormous amount of work in agriculture.
Some industries are also seasonal - so choose your fields to be complementary in that respect. To take my agricultural example, all machinery, seed, pesticide etc. sellers go bonkeys in January to March, to prepare the new season - and then may have no translation work for the rest of the year.


Richard Foulkes (X)  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:47
German to English
+ ...
Top-down approach Apr 15, 2016

Rather than looking from the bottom upwards on the jobs board (and bearing in mind the proz jobs board is not the translation industry), you could look from the top down by looking at the largest sectors of the Swedish economy (for EN > SE) or the largest goods and services exported/provided from English-speaking nations to Sweden (and vice versa).

Something you enjoy and that you're good at would also help!


Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:47
German to English
the one you have qualifications in Apr 15, 2016

Almost any field will generate enough translation volume to keep dozens or hundreds of translators busy in most language pairs.

Unless you are starting a large-scale agency and need to generate tens of thousands of euros in sales just to produce hundreds of euros in profit, then the question of general demand is more or less irrelevant. You are a small fish and that has its privileges.

You need to find a field and a market where you stand out and that will provide you with a good living. Now, if you happen to have an MBA, law degree, engineering degree, and medical degree as well as years of experience working in all four fields, then maybe you have a tough decision ahead of you, but otherwise this decision should already have been made for you by what you were doing before you decided to start translating.

I assume that qualified and good legal translators probably earn more than qualified and good translators in the field of education. However, unqualified translators earn less than qualified translators, regardless of the field.


Amanda N  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:47
English to Swedish
+ ...
Thank you all for your input Apr 15, 2016

I´m overwhelmed with all the comments I got from you, thank you very much!

Yeah, I realize my fields are not the most rock & roll ones (good expression btw Arianne Farah) and I think it't true what many of your said, that you need to work within your fields of passion and competency. Unless you specialize in something new and more selling like finance or farma (but I feel to old for that now....haha).

It´s a good idea to be a service provider to companies, schools and organisations. If you contact them directly (as Karmen et all suggested), what´s ways have worked out best for you (showing up at an office in person, e-mailing, attending conferences or similar)? Thankful if someone wanna share.


Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:47
Italian to English
Money makes the world go round Apr 15, 2016

hence the enormous demand for financial translations. I almost "regret" that this is a field I cannot bear, because for a good financial translator, there is a lot of money to be made.

But this brings me to my next point - do what you love and what you're good at. I imagine there are translators out there who can keep thrashing out texts in fields they loathe, simply because they pay the bills. I'm not one of them. The very thing I love about my job is the fact that every text I do teaches me something new. Art and medicine, my fields, do that for me, while the few legal and financial texts I've done in my career have been the opposite.

Just my 2 cents.


Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:47
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
The one you work fastest and most comfortably in Apr 15, 2016

If you are working in a field you know about, you are confident about the terminology and the style of the language, and your translations will 'sound' or read as if they were written by a professional. The danger of being a generalist is that you write well in the target language, but it sounds like an amateur. If you write the kind of language readers expect and use the terminology correctly, good clients will come back to you and keep you busy. You earn best when you are working at optimum speed, and your productivity is high. You get into a flow, and can keep on working without stress for longer. Struggling with an unfamiliar subject is tiring and slow, and there is always some geek or nerd who can do it faster and better!

There are also advantages in finding a niche where there is not quite so much competition - I have found this with law, as there do not seem to be too many English natives who can read Danish law.

Far more important is how you attract good clients. The great majority of jobs that come through this site are invisible. Clients look for translators in the directories and contact the translator directly. When clients send repeat jobs to the same translator, they do not even need to go through Proz.com. With luck you reach a point where you are working at full capacity, so you can choose what works best for you.

Right now, I suggest you start by adding the keywords at the bottom of your profile in Swedish and Finnish, so anyone searching in those languages will find them too. (That is how search engines find your profile.) Think from a client's point of view - what would they be looking for if they needed you to translate for them?

Answer KudoZ questions. Like it or not, that is how you get to the front pages of the directories, and it is quite a good way of drawing attention to yourself. The general 'culture' of KudoZ is pleasant and professional in Scandinavian languages, and I have been enormously grateful to Swedish colleagues who have helped me out.
This article is a bit dated, but still a classic, by one of the pioneer moderators, Mats Wiman

I would recommend paying for membership of Proz.com as soon as you can afford it - that brings you up a long way in the directories. It is some years ago now, but the first job I was offered after I subscribed paid for my subscription and more, and I worked every month for the same client for several years afterwards.

Do you use a CAT? Mention it, or try some out and find one that suits you. The different CATS are more or less compatible, and are an advantage if you can work with them at subconscious level as you type. If you are struggling with the 'mechanics' of the CAT, on the other hand, they can be enormously distracting... I know why some people hate them! It is worth persevering, however, and there are free demo versions of most of them.

This video may help:
And this one - be patient, because it does give some quite good advice once it gets to the point

I hope you find some really good clients - or they find you!
And I wish you luck.

[Edited at 2016-04-15 10:45 GMT]


Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:47
Member (2007)
+ ...
Most jobs don't reach the public job board Apr 15, 2016

Amanda N wrote:
I searched for how many jobs had been posted in the Job Listing field the last month (which is the longest period of time you can choose) and there were none in any of my fields (7 fields)

The list if you search for "all" subject areas isn't very long, either. So that really doesn't say much about your chances of being a successful professional translator of English to Swedish specialising in education. What I do know is that most of the better jobs (though not all) are offered to translators who appear on the first page of the directory - they aren't posted as public jobs. Those with a specialised need don't want every Tom, Dick and Harry sending quotes; they prefer to target the most likely candidates themselves.

So, I suggest you do everything you can to appear high on that list if ProZ.com is to be your chosen platform for client connections. Christine has already given some good advice, and you should also attend the "Meeting Clients" free webinar asap. I see that you've already taken her good advice anyway, by becoming a paying member. That will certainly help enormously as you've now leap-frogged every non-paying member, however great their profile and experience. You're now on Page 3 of the directory for education without further filtering. Having just one Kudoz answer chosen in your major pair, regardless of subject area, will put you on P2. If it's in education, then you'll be on P1, but those questions are clearly few and far between. If you can get yourself accepted as a "Pro-tag" member then you'll be on P1 directly. ProZ.com is like everything in life, such as exams, the driving test and interviews: you have to follow the rules and do it the way they want.

One thing I'm sure of: there are texts out there every day that need translating into Swedish and that are in one of your areas of specialisation. You have a very coherent set at the moment, that are admirably backed up by your About Me text. I think all you need to do is channel them your way, here on ProZ.com or elsewhere. Don't forget that you only need a very few thousand words per day to make a great living. The fact that there are zillions of finance words needed per day doesn't mean a vast amount if there are also millions of qualified translators. Why join them in their sea if you're not particularly interested, and therefore probably not outstanding, in that field? In education, you're a medium-sized fish in a small pond, with the potential to grow into the one that gets talked about.


Christina Baier  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:47
Member (2014)
French to German
+ ...
Membership SFÖ Apr 15, 2016

Hej Amanda!

I translate from Swedish and French to German. While there is big "traffic" on ProZ for the French->German pair (many jobs posted, many Kudoz questions discussed), there is almost nothing in the Swedish-> German pair (at least in my fields). If I worked just in that pair, my membership would not pay off.

Have you considered becoming a member of the SFÖ? Many Swedish direct clients seem to go through SFÖ's directory when they are looking for a translator.

Lycka till!


Amanda N  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:47
English to Swedish
+ ...
Good proZ hints Apr 15, 2016

Thank you Sheila and Christine,

It´s a lot to learn in the beginning but I appreciate the good hints! For example, the Pro-tag system and the CAT-tools is smth I don´t know much about yet and will have to check out. I already did the most important measures before I posted the first post in this thread, though (paying the membership fee, adding keywords, answered a Kudoz question etc), but no harm in hearing it again to get the importance of it confirmed.

On the whole I´m happy so many of you experienced translators replied and I think I have a clearer picture on how proz.com works now. It´s interesting that there are so many "hidden jobs" out there. I guess you just have to find your way to reach them or even better, as many pointed out, "to be reached by them". And I´m also now more convinced of the importance of to sticking to your fields of expertise and perhaps above all - your interest (at least in my case). I also hope I will experience what Fiona Grace referred to; the opportunity to learn smth new and be inspired when you get to work within your field of interest. After all, I am a teacher and I love learning and developing every day (to be honest, much more than teaching students)icon_smile.gif

Thanks to all of you all for your contribution on this topic!


Amanda N  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:47
English to Swedish
+ ...
I will check SFÖ out! Apr 15, 2016

Christina Baier wrote:

Hej Amanda!

I translate from Swedish and French to German. While there is big "traffic" on ProZ for the French->German pair (many jobs posted, many Kudoz questions discussed), there is almost nothing in the Swedish-> German pair (at least in my fields). If I worked just in that pair, my membership would not pay off.

Have you considered becoming a member of the SFÖ? Many Swedish direct clients seem to go through SFÖ's directory when they are looking for a translator.

Lycka till!

Hi Christina Baier, thank you so much for letting me know about this situation with Swedish. After, we are not that big a language. SFÖ looks interesting, I didn´t know about it before so I will definitely check it out. Tusen tack!


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