Recommendations for courses to help gain a specialism?
Thread poster: Hannah Drake

Hannah Drake
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:05
German to English
+ ...
Jun 15, 2018

Hi everyone,

I graduated a couple of years ago and I've been working as a translation proofreader for an established translation company since then. I really want to progress to full translator status within my company but they require their translators to also have a qualification in the field that they translate in, e.g. science, engineering, legal etc., as well as a language degree.

Does anybody have any suggestions/recommendations for courses that I could study while also working full-time that would lead to a specialist qualification? I'm looking into all possibilities at the moment so any suggestions would be very helpful!

Thanks for reading,



Patricia Fierro, M. Sc.  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:05
Member (2004)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Proz Jun 16, 2018

Hi Hannah,

Maybe you can start your search by reviewing what Proz offers:

Good luck!


Lian Pang  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:05
Member (2018)
English to Chinese
+ ...
A professional certification or a full degree ? Jun 16, 2018

If you are looking for a B.A. or an M.A. , try from coursera.

or you can also try . They have something called "MicroMasters" and a bunch of professional certificate


Robin Levey
Local time: 04:05
Spanish to English
+ ...
OU Jun 16, 2018

Surely the Open University has something to offer you ...?

Mind you, no "courses that I could study while also working full-time" will ever manage to give you more than a basic understanding of the subject-matter - certainly nothing like the level of "specialism" (sic) you seem to be looking for, or are likely to need as a "specialist translator".



Rachel Waddington  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:05
Member (2014)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Open University Jun 16, 2018

Definitely take a look at what the OU has to offer. I completed a Bachelor of Engineering degree after 6 years of part-time study whilst also working as a translator. I didn't keep up full-time work the whole time but adjusted my working hours depending on the demands of my studies.

Although a degree is a major undertaking, you won't have to wait until it's completed to start benefiting - I found it made a difference when I told people I was studying towards a BEng.


Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:05
French to English
Specialisations Jun 17, 2018

A degree will generally convince potential clients that you know what you are talking about. When you have a degree, you do have subject knowledge. There will always be competitors with a higher level of study and with years of professional experience. You can be credible with an undergraduate degree and language training and experience. I know of people who have done this, but they were already working at the entry level of the specialisation in translation. The degree was worked for as they already knew that area was of interest. You wish to engage on further study with the specific aim of gaining specialist knowledge for translation but have not determined what area you wish to study. That's quite a big problem to overcome. I've seen posts along the same lines in the past, where people ask whether they should go for law or engineering when choosing a specialist subject or a degree for further study, for example. Your market competitors are likely to be people with specialist qualifications and experience, sometimes without any formal language qualifications, but with significant field experience in a foreign language. That does not mean you cannot enter the field yourself via another route. However, when it comes to choosing your specialist field, might I suggest you look at it from a different angle?

Your choice should be based on fields in which you have a natural interest and/or ability. If you are naturally drawn to one particular field, that is a clue that it might be a good field to go for. If you continue to work full-time, you need iron-cast motivation to work in the evenings and at the weekend. I know from personal experience. Don't try to force a round peg into a square hole.icon_wink.gif

My first degree was a joint honours in English law and French language. More than 20 years later, with no science A-level to my name, I got onto a research masters degree in biology and neuroscience (long story). I then took a "year out" from study and shifted over to working for a professional qualification in clinical psychology. I'm nearly there. I have been working more than full-time throughout as I have been supporting my two children, now coming to the end of their own university study.

[Edited at 2018-06-17 09:56 GMT]


Kay Denney  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:05
Member (2018)
French to English
What's your status with this company? Jun 18, 2018

Are you an employee or a freelancer? On your profile, it looks like you're a freelancer but the way you put it in your messages, it sounds more like you're an employee. As an employee, you would perhaps be entitled to vocational training? This could give you a chance to study on company time or at least have the company pay for your studies.

Why not ask the company what they would consider to be valid training? After all they do say that if you want to have fun, you go to university, and if you want to learn, you follow MOOCs and listen to TED talks.

My specialist subjects are those I had to deal with working in-house at an agency. By dint of proofreading and compiling glossaries for various subjects, I was deemed proficient enough to translate. It so happened that the agency was specialised in fashion, and my mother had taught me dress-making, so I already knew a lot of terms used in the industry. My subjects are not as highly technical as the areas you mention.

When choosing your subject, make sure it's something you are interested in, because your passion shines through!

Daniela Zambrini

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