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Poll: How did you choose your fields of expertise?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 16:35
SITE STAFF
May 5, 2013

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "How did you choose your fields of expertise?".

View the poll results »



 

Diana Coada  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:35
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Some you choose, May 5, 2013

and some choose youicon_smile.gif

 

Samantha Payn  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:35
Member (2008)
Russian to English
+ ...
Completely by chance May 5, 2013

Which almost matches the poll response "to meet the needs of my clients"icon_biggrin.gif

 

Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 08:35
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
By chance May 5, 2013

Fate or destiny, whatever you want to call it

In the past, customers would ask me if I had ever translated certain fields. "Nope," I'd say and would ask for a chance to prove if I could manage it. Out of almost all of the competitive bids with several other translators/translation companies I've participated in so far, the client has recognized that I had a natural aptitude for the content involved and awarded me the work. I also found the stuff very fascinating.
This started just over 30 years with machine tools and 20+ years ago with industrial automation, each of which has complemented each other and generated work in related or overlapping fields of industry.

Of course, as translators, we all naturally tend to lean towards subjects which appeal to us and areas where there is a lot of work. After all, we have to make a living and enjoy it at the same time. icon_smile.gif

I went with Samantha's poll response.

Small edit + added short sentence

[Edited at 2013-05-05 09:46 GMT]

[Edited at 2013-05-06 02:24 GMT]


 

Sebastian Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 01:35
Member (2004)
German to English
+ ...
Other May 5, 2013

Whereas I voted "Previous formal education/training" (I took courses and passed exams in legal and Economics translation, which are our main fields today, as part of my translation studies at University of Applied Sciences, and learned about English accounting speak) I really chose my fields based on what interests me and what I enjoy reading (business and financial sections of national newspapers)/watching (BloombergTV/Richard Quest)/listening to (during training events/university lectures).

A relatively new field for me is Intellectual Property, which came into my professional life when I met Astrid, a former legal secretary and in-house translator employed by a major German law and IP law firm in early 2010. I benefit from the fact that at University of Applied Sciences I also took technical translation courses and passed the respective exams when editing Astrid's patent translations.

[Edited at 2013-05-05 11:33 GMT]


 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 00:35
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
By chance May 5, 2013

Though my previous education is in economics, what I translate most nowadays is… medicine! I started by chance circa 15 years ago helping one of my nieces (a medical doctor) who had signed a huge contract with a big American publisher to translate a gynecology and obstetrics handbook and it never stopped.

 

Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 02:35
Turkish to English
+ ...
They've evolved according to my clients' needs May 5, 2013

Since returning to full-time freelancing about eight years ago, most of the requests I have received have been for legal translation. I knew little about the law then and so had to throw myself in at the deep end. I have come from there, through a combination of, on the one hand, experience of actually translating legal texts and researching terminology as it comes up and, on the other, systematic research through studying legal textbooks in my source language and then tracking down the best equivalents in English for the terminology that I encounter, to a situation in which I can declare myself to be a reasonably competent legal specialist. I am by no means at the end of the learning curve yet.

 

Bruno Depascale  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 01:35
Member (2009)
English to Italian
+ ...
I liked the medical field before starting May 5, 2013

Personally, during a university class, I translated a medical text and since than I knew I wanted to follow this path.
So, I attended a post-graduate course in medical and pharmaceutical translation and deepened my knowledge of this field.


 

Allison Wright  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 00:35
German to English
+ ...
Other - Combination May 5, 2013

- Prior work experience:
I was not always a full-time freelance translator, even though I wanted to be. Anything which falls under the headings of administration, accounting, economics, marketing, public relations and contracts and tenders and general corporate workings was initially learnt on the job.

- They've evolved according to my clients' needs:
Each translation is a new experience, and leaves one enriched.

- As Diana Coada says, some fields choose you.
In retrospect, there was not too much planning on my part involved in all of this: it "just happened"!icon_smile.gif


 

Gianluca Marras  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 01:35
Member (2008)
English to Italian
exactly May 5, 2013

Samantha Payn wrote:

Which almost matches the poll response "to meet the needs of my clients"icon_biggrin.gif


in detail:
I had a different job, although I did some translations occasionally, since that was the job I always wanted to do.
My boss at the time could not afford to pay us, so I needed to find an extra source of money.
I had the chance to start working with a client who needed patent translations, and when he told me he could guarantee the same money my boss gave I left my job and started translating patents full time.


 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 01:35
Member (Apr 2018)
French to English
Other May 5, 2013

As an in-house translator, I told the PMs what I preferred to translate and as a result was able to hone my skills in the fields I'm interested in. There was enough work in those fields not to have to work on stuff I didn't like or couldn't get my head round

Sometimes they would send me stuff outside my comfort zone and I would tackle it and enjoy it - or not - and after a few translations in that field I would add that subject to my list of specialities.


 

Mario Chavez (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:35
English to Spanish
+ ...
Choosing a field of expertise to translate May 5, 2013

I agree with most of the postings. Some are Zen-like (“fields choose you” for example). Others are simply pragmatic.

I graduated with a degree in English and legal translations, but my first field was...supermarket spreads where I had to deal with meat cuts!

Later, it was Dell computers press releases, financial prospectuses, cellular network stuff written in a Unix system (bleh), the occasional mousetrap instructions (I. am. no. kidding!) and now, medical reports mostly.

I wanted to be a systems analyst back in 1983, but different enrollment dates pushed me to enroll in the Language School first. Never had a chance to enroll in systems analyst courses afterwards. Too busy learning grammar. But I had a good karma and learned about hardware, software, computers and databases starting in 1991. Didn't see it coming but I enjoyed it.

While settling down and enjoying a few fields of expertise is nice, evolution requires that we keep moving and seeking other fields. At least, that's my case. So I delved into oil & gas, which is not as difficult as it looked at first.


 

Triston Goodwin  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:35
Spanish to English
+ ...
A mix May 5, 2013

I was originally trained as a customer service rep at a large vehicle finance company, after a short time I was moved to interpretation, later translation came into the game. I already had some experience interpreting/translating while living in Argentina. I was later lured away with stacks of money and my own office by another vehicle finance company, but was laid off after the tsunami wrecked a bunch of the Japanese plants.

I mostly worked on contracts and legal documents for these companies, as well as their websites, a couple of commercials, all the different offices, and the Spanish customer service stuff as the Spanish speaking supervisor.

After the layoffs, I started freelancing. I mostly work in the same fields, with the small addition of video game localization. While I may not have professional experience in gaming prior to translation, I have years (I can actually claim decades in this one) of experience playing them!


 

Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 01:35
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
A combination May 5, 2013

My degree is in economics, followed by nearly two decades of experience as an in-house technical/Civil Engineering translator.

As a writer and poet in two, sometimes three languages, literature and poetry simply "chose" me.

My other fields evolved according to my clients' needs. And some fields seem to have come naturally due to experience, e. g. tourism & travel.

"All of the above" would have been an option as well, based on our colleagues answers.icon_smile.gif

[Edited at 2013-05-05 15:13 GMT]


 

Steve Kerry  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:35
German to English
Part experience, part inclination May 5, 2013

My strongest fields are vehicle mechanics and electrics, being indoctrinated from an early age by a father who was in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, so I was stripping and rebuilding engines at the age of ten or eleven while having Ohm's Law drummed into me! In recent years I have since developed a taste for contracts, just because I enjoy their straightforward and inevitable nature, together with the odd sprinkling of archaic terminology. An enthusiastic poet in my youth, I sometimes enjoy the challenge of translating poetry, although the time spent relative to the rate per word is so absurd as to be amusing.

Steve K.


 
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