Choosing specializations..
Thread poster: remy1005

Local time: 17:56
Japanese to English
Oct 6, 2007

Hi there

The following are assumptions, so please correct me if I'm wrong!

-It would seem that many translators here have one or more specialized fields that may cover the majority of their workload.

-Many, if not most, people worked or had experience in different fields before translating, allowing a somewhat natural selection of specialization fields to choose.

I don't particularly have any such experience, so I'm pretty open to any fields I should opt for. How's best to go about effectively choosing a field(s)?
Rank them in relation to my own personal interests?
Cross check against job vacancies?
Go according to market demand?


Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:56
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
First acquire your specialization Oct 6, 2007

Don't just claim to specialize in something without having any basis for doing so. Take a course, full-time or part-time, in the subject you want to specialize in and get some sort of qualification in it. If possible, also acquire some practical experience in it.
As for the subject(s), IT seems particularly in demand now; engineering, law (particularly contracts) and advertising are other possibilities.


Capesha  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:56
Member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
I agree with Jack Oct 6, 2007

If you are new in the business, just check, what specialization you have and if you don't have any, think about what would be interesting to you. Then take a course or something like that, as Jack already recommended.

I (for example) worked more than 20 years in the industry. So I have a deep understanding in the mechanic / electric field etc. I should thus offer translations of user manuals etc.
With a finance report, I would obviously struggle and would have to place a lot of questions in here ...


Aurélie Charvet  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:56
English to French
+ ...
This is interesting! Oct 6, 2007

I'm still a student in translation and I just feel like I need to specialize in a few fields to be a good translator.

But I have no idea of how I can specialize. I don't have much time to take a course, except if it is online, and I find it difficult to get books that give me a better understanding of the whole subject while giving me enough vocabulary.

I'm probably too picky but if anybody has tips to help me feel more confortable with a few fields, I'd really be interested!


Capesha  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:56
Member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
I started as secretary Oct 6, 2007

@Aurélie: I started with a job in a company. They sold US kitchen equipment here in Germany and they needed a secretary with good language skills. Thereafter I changed into the field of hazmat containers and then to optic machines (what a difference). But all these companies had one thing in common: they were all metal structure companies.

Please don't misunderstand me: I don't want to suggest to start as a secretary.icon_wink.gif
But sometimes it is helpful to start in a company, where you do not only translate, but also learn a lot about the products.

[Bearbeitet am 2007-10-06 14:48]


Latin_Hellas (X)
United States
Local time: 18:56
Italian to English
+ ...
I also agree with Jack Oct 6, 2007

There really is no substitute for real work experience, preferably in the country (countries) of your proposed source language(s).

Taking specialized courses and then reading as much as possible (text books, specialized trade magazines) in both native and the proposed source language(s) may be the next best thing.

Yes, demand nowadays, IT and other technical (wide-ranging term), law/contracts, business/banking/finance, medical. In other words, target customers who have the ability to pay.

Among technical, besides IT, I would point to telecommunications, oil & gas, possibly alternative energy going forward, engineering of all kinds, ranging from mechanical to biological.

Combining law with any of the above is probably not a bad idea.

Good luck!


Paul Merriam  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:56
Member (2008)
Russian to English
+ ...
Acquire some expertise by working Oct 6, 2007

I notice your language combination is Japanese to English. I suspect there are companies in the UK that either import goods or services from Japan or sell goods or services to them. Or perhaps you can find a law firm that has Japanese clients or has clients that deal with Japanese people or firms.

If you get a job with such a firm, either full or part time, you will lean something about this firm's products or services. You will also meet people who work there, who might someday be potential clients or know potential clients.

Unlike going to school, they pay you rather than you paying them. And you can probably leverage this experience later.


The Misha
Local time: 12:56
Russian to English
+ ...
How good is your Japanese? Oct 7, 2007

If you think it is good enough, go get yourself a degree in finance. You'll be a captain of industry with a 6 figure income before you know it. Beats the ... out of being a lowly translator


Charlie Bavington (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:56
French to English
Agree with Paul Oct 8, 2007

remy1005 wrote:

-Many, if not most, people worked or had experience in different fields before translating, allowing a somewhat natural selection of specialization fields to choose.

And I would politely suggest you do the same.
There really is no substitute for first-hand experience of how language (source and target) is actually used in a particular field (assuming this is possible - I wouldn't expect you to train as a brain surgeon!).

Would you consider adding to your repertoire and try a new field? If so, how would you go about it now? Is it just a case of learning the vocabulary?

If you plan to learn the new vocabulary by working alongside people who use it, then yes.
If you're thinking of flashcards and reading the dictionary before bed, then probably noticon_smile.gif


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