What should I choose as my translation specialty?
Thread poster: QueliKelly

Spanish to English
Oct 22, 2009

I´m studying translation in Spain and I want to stay here for the rest of my life. My native language is English. My university allows me to specialize in either traducción jurídica/técnica or traducción audiovisual/literaria. Audiovisual/literaria is much more interesting to me but it doesn´t seem like there are a lot of job opportunities for translating into English in Spain in that area. They are always translating movies and books into Spanish, so it seems like I might be useless and no one would hire me. But again, I love the subject matter more. I hate the thought of studying and working with law, engineering, medicine, or software, but there seems to be a real demand for English translators in those fields.

I´m really torn here, because what I really want to do will probably get me nowhere professionally and what I hate working with will give me more opportunities and help me stay in Spain.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


Karen Stokes  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:51
Member (2003)
French to English
Instincts Oct 22, 2009

You say you 'hate the thought of studying and working with law, engineering, medicine, or software': as a translator you are going to spend all day working with these texts, and if you really do hate them it honestly won't be a very rewarding way of making a living.

Bear in mind that geographical location is not as much of a barrier as it once was: your target market doesn't have to be the country you're living in. In fact one of the joys of this job is that you can take it with you wherever you go.

Good luck with your choice!




jane mg  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:51
Italian to English
+ ...
yes Oct 23, 2009

excellent advice from Karen. I agree, go with what you love - you'll do it better, apart from enjoying it more.

re. local work: you could do the rounds of film production companies, there's always somebody who needs correspondence translated, pressbooks, promotional material, etc. and contacts lead to other contacts. Try the national TV channel for sub-titling to English. To build up a portfolio you could offer freebies to the tiny run-on-the-smell-of-an-oily-rag film festivals - it's all experience - lexicon, understanding how the industry works, CV. Start now while you're studying (if that's humanly possible) then you're several steps ahead once you graduate.

Good luck!


Tatty  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:51
Spanish to English
+ ...
I understand your dilemma Oct 23, 2009

and given the choice I would probably have gone for literature and audiovisual but I do have a bit of a penchant for law and business myself. However the reality is that translating literature is a true pain. I've never done audiovisual but I've been told that it is hard work too. Not only is there a lot, lot more work in the technical and legal spheres the work is also a lot easier. Either way, don't be torn because you will probably discover after your degree that you want to further your studies and some British unis offer distance-learning courses in legal and technical translation that you can study on a unit by unit basis. HTH.


Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:51
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
I'm with Karen! Oct 23, 2009

I entirely agree with what Karen says.

Let me just add that you want to specialise and translate in whatever subjects you like and enjoy reading about. If you like the subject area, you will do it a lot better than things you don't like, seem harder or are just boring.

Your personal and professional life can take you to places you cannot quite imagine now, so take the steps are in line with your current analysis of the market, your life and personal taste, and let life randomise it all along time.

Change and evolution are part of the life of every person, and most specially in the life of a translator. You cannot always steer all the aspects of your life and you can never know where you will be in 10 years from now.


Annett Hieber  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:51
English to German
Be brave Oct 23, 2009

and follow your instincts. It will take you further if you do what you like most and you will also be much better at it. You will surely find the right market for your work, too, then.

However, I made the experience that technical translations are very interesting at times. There are many different technical fields you can specify in and when you start to "dive into" a field it becomes more and more interesting.

Follow your instincts and see where it takes you! Good luck!



S P Willcock (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:51
German to English
+ ...
what do you dislike? Oct 23, 2009

QueliKelly wrote:

I hate the thought of studying and working with law, engineering, medicine, or software, but there seems to be a real demand for English translators in those fields.
I will play devil's advocate here and ask why you hate the thought of working in these language areas. the law and medicine, in particular, are packed with drama and human interest - think of the number of great authors who were either lawyers or doctors in their day jobs, from Goethe to Chekhov - and you will undoubtedly meet a number of very talented and interesting doctors, lawyers or engineers if you make this your working life.

think a little more about why you find this idea unappealing, and decide whether it's the translation work itself that you would hate or whether you are simply put off by the work of law, medicine or whatnot. if it's the latter, don't worry - somebody else has already done that work for you!


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