Poll: Do you specialize in a certain field?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 10:54
Feb 17, 2015

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do you specialize in a certain field?".

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Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:54
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Yes Feb 17, 2015

For many years I specialized in medicine and public health. I have branched out quite a bit lately, but the list of fields I do work in is still far shorter than the ones I avoid.

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neilmac  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:54
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other Feb 17, 2015

Not by design. Some clients say that I'm now an "expert" in their fields after several years of working with them, which is nice. However,I wouldn't describe myself that way, as I am more concerned with rendering the text into English rather than the content per se, which I think is not always all that important. For example, I may be able to translate the instructions to build something, yet remain unable to construct it myself.

Rather than talking about specialization, I would say I have a few "comfort zones".
I used to be prepared to work in almost any area if I thought I could cut the cake, and it would be easier for me to pinpoint areas in which I would not normally consider undertaking translation work nowadays; for example, I no longer do specialist financial texts if I can help it.

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Teresa Borges
Local time: 18:54
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Yes, but I accept and welcome other jobs as well! Feb 17, 2015

For the last 10 years I have been translating mostly medicine (medical devices), but I like mixing these jobs with other disciplines. Variety is the spice of life!

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Paul Dixon  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:54
Portuguese to English
+ ...
No but I have favourite fields Feb 17, 2015

I don't specialise as such because my degree study subjects (Mathematics and Education) do not appear to be in great demand. However, over the years there have been some subjects which I have translated more than others: medical, clinical trials, contracts and documents, press releases, real estate valuations. I avoid highly technical texts and also avoid things against my principles (homophobic texts, for example).
Does anyone else have the problem of their speciality not being in demand?

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Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:54
Turkish to English
+ ...
Yes Feb 17, 2015

Yes, I am a legal specialist, but, as my language pair is a less common one in my main markets (Western Europe and North America), I need to be capable of handling a wide range of text types at times when there is no work in my main area of specialisation.

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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:54
English to Spanish
+ ...
I bet one-specialization translators are out there Feb 17, 2015

Doctors, lawyers, chemists, etc. may turn to translation as a profession and become a single specialization translator.

Other than having indulging this silly question, I have a question of my own: Is this Dumb Poll Week by any chance?

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Alberto Montpellier  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
English to Spanish
+ ...

Duh!! Feb 17, 2015

Other than having indulging this silly question, I have a question of my own: Is this Dumb Poll Week by any chance?

It certainly must be. I'm sure 100% of translators "specialize in a certain field" at some extent at least.

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Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:54
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Duh!! to the power of deux Feb 18, 2015

Alberto Montpellier wrote:

I'm sure 100% of translators "specialize in a certain field" at some extent at least.

I remember one particular conversation when I was interviewing translators for a possible in-house position at my company all those years back:

"Well, xxx. Do you specialize in any specific fields?"
"I specialize in general translation."

Needlessly to say, this conversation didn't last long.

My rationalization for specialization is as follows.

We are all in the knowledge business. We are selling what we know. Translation is the business of selling specific intellectual skills and knowledge. The more you know about or are familiar with a specific area, i.e. a specialization, the more effectively you should be able to market and sell your skills. At least, this is how the theory goes.

I've specialized in a few areas of industry, one of which is industrial automation which I've been translating for 20+ years. There was a time, a whole year, in fact, when I was translating for all of the top five industrial automation (also, called 'factory automation' here) manufacturers in Japan. Glad I didn't mix up names and model Nos.

For the past 3 years or so, I've been translating primarily in the automotive area. And, right now I'm translating a tutorial and part of a huge repair manual for a fuel cell vehicle that runs on hydrogen. I got this contract because I'm at the top of a list of translators who can manage this kind of stuff, i.e. who specialize in a certain field.
However, from past experience, I've learnt not to put all your eggs in one basket as certain markets do tend to go flat from time to time as Paul mentions earlier.

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Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:24
Member (2006)
English to Hindi
+ ...
Other Feb 18, 2015

My professional degree is in Computer Applications. By work experience, I am an environmental educator, having worked for 20 years in an environmental education NGO as a writer in English and Hindi.

But I do a lot of other translations in areas such as business, finance, medical (general), and legal. That is how the work flow has built up for me.

If I had stuck to doing only computer related or environment related translations, I would be working at a quarter of my capacity, or even lower.

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