Upon completing professional training, translators encounter new challenges, particularly in their professional lives. While university education equips us with the tools and knowledge to handle translation assignments across different fields and topics, these tools have generally been broad in scope.
It's beneficial to have the ability to work with various types of texts, but in practical terms, it's more advantageous to be specific. It's unrealistic to become an expert in all disciplines, to master the specific terminology, distinctive writing styles, vocabulary, and other crucial aspects when translating.
That's why, once we enter the work life, it's highly recommended to specialize. Mastering a specific field enables us to deliver high-quality products, feel confident, and work more quickly and efficiently. Additionally, clients prefer candidates who possess a greater expertise in a particular area over others.
Becoming proficient in a specific field sets us apart from the competition.
Contrary to the belief that narrowing down our areas of work would result in fewer opportunities to acquire clients, specializing actually makes us the top candidate for clients seeking translation of highly specific texts or translators with specific skills. This could lead to us becoming the go-to translator for that particular field, garnering a greater volume of assignments and consequently, a higher salary, compared to those who aim to cover all areas.
Other benefits of specializing
As mentioned earlier, specialization would make us more confident and quicker when choosing equivalents and drafting certain texts: by being specialists in a particular field, we would already be familiar and accustomed to how it unfolds. Specializing keeps us in constant contact with that field, reading related articles and research, in short, mastering how those texts are developed.
Furthermore, as mentioned at the outset, being specialists makes us strong candidates within the chosen area, as the time invested in specialization will result in higher quality work and a better position against the competition, as well as prestige with our clients who are likely to turn to us for new translation assignments.
How to specialize?
There are generally two ways to specialize: through experience and through professional training (courses, master's degrees, diplomas, etc.).
By "experience", I mean being constantly exposed to a particular area, either because it's something we studied before, worked on in other circumstances, or something we have translated repeatedly, etc. For example, a translator who enjoyed reading about psychology as a hobby and therefore is very familiar with the terminology and writing style of such texts. This translator would be specialized in psychology.
Specializing through professional training involves a more conscious decision to focus on a subject. Taking courses, completing diplomas or master's degrees in a field will provide us with the necessary knowledge to become specialists.
Regardless of the form or area we choose to specialize in, doing so will undoubtedly lead us to many benefits. We will be able to offer quality work and thus attract more clients who, very possibly, will stick with us if we prove to be good professionals. It is essential for translators to possess an innate sense of curiosity, always eager to learn more and improve every day. Specializing will never be a waste of time or resources. Good luck!