Translation: Do you need to specialize to succeed?

Should you be a generalist translator, or specialize in medical  or business translations, or even – why not? –  financial translation? That is the question that freelance translators and translation companies often ask themselves. This article takes a quick look at the advantages and disadvantages of specialized translation.

The Advantages Of Specialized Translation

Like a doctor or a journalist, the translator can choose whether to be a generalist or to specialize in a specific field, such as marketing or legal translation. This approach has the following advantages:

  • Broadening one’s knowledge: discovering a new lexical field in each translation can be fun, but applying and broadening acquired knowledge also has its charm.
  • Increasing efficiency: if you already know the vocabulary and, at a more general level are familiar with the area of the specific field of translation, this will save you valuable time. Thus, you can be more efficient and productive and your working time will be more profitable.
  • Improving quality: working with subject matter on which you are an expert, means that you can offer better quality translation services. Your customers will notice this and your business will grow accordingly
  • Improving communications: it will be easier to disseminate and sell our services if you are targeting a specific audience: when you stop being a mere generalist translator, one among so many, you will be able to locate customers more easily.
  • Higher rates: specialized translators generally are able to set more interesting word rates and thus generate more income.
  • Choose a field of your choice: you work in the translation business because you love languages, or because you like to write, or because you love to communicate … And if, to top it, you can translate in subject areas that really interest .. Specialized translation allows you to select an area of activity according to your personal preferences.

Becoming A Specialized Translator: Consider Your Motivations  

If becoming a specialized translator only had advantages, there would not be any generalist translators left at all… Here are three reasons why the decision to specialize in a specific field should not be taken lightly:

  1. If you like diversity and change, perhaps, specializing in one subject area is not for you.
  2. Some translators are afraid of losing out on projects if they specialize. However, you can be a specialized translator for video games translation and localization or audiovisual translation and keep doing translations in other areas.
  3. Training to become a specialized translator is a long and costly process. In the long term, however, it is a good investment.

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