To be or not to be specialized, that is the question. Today, more and more freelance translators specialize in one or more specific fields: audio-visual, legal or medical translation, in the automobile industry, cosmetics or even Asian cinema, for example. It’s true that there are numerous possibilities, thanks to the multitude of languages and domains available. But be careful, as you need to choose your specialization wisely. So why specialize and how to choose your fields of interest well? Let’s have a quick overview with the Acolad Community:


Why are more and more translators specializing in one or more fields?

As a translator, specialization helps you to deepen your knowledge in one or more fields you like. However, there are many other benefits that specialization offers:


Specializing improves efficiency

Choosing one or more fields to explore in more depth allows you to focus all your energy and concentration on these topics. You become more efficient because you work faster, and you save time for proofreading, improving glossaries, marketing, and so on.



Specializing attracts clients

When you are specialized, clients are more likely to find you easily, especially if you have a rare language pair or specialize in niche markets. You will find potential clients more quickly, because you will have more focused advertising and better targeted communication. You will earn their trust when they will see that you master their field. Therefore, they are likely to call on you much more often for their projects, perhaps even exclusively.


Specializing increases your income

Becoming a specialist will also give you the opportunity to rework your grid rate. Your expertise and your in-depth knowledge of a field and its terminology will be recognised, and will justify increasing your charges. It’s also satisfying to know that the areas you prefer to work on are generating revenue. 😊 


Tips on How to Choose One Specialization (or More)

Despite the advantages we mentioned above, some of you prefer to remain generalists. Two reasons that may dissuade you from specializing are:

  • Training for a specialization may be long and costly,
  • Fear that a specialty won’t give you enough visibility and income.

It’s normal to ask these questions when you think about specializing. The good news: there is no good or bad specialty, as the translation industry is vast. Everything will depend on your desires, your needs and the means you are ready to deploy.



Choose a Field that you Enjoy Studying

It seems obvious, but the first thing to do is to choose what you are passionate about, so you can devote the maximum amount of time to it during your research. Are you passionate about new technologies, geopolitics or oceanography? Do you speak several rare languages? Knowing what you like is a good starting point for specialization.


Study the Needs of the Market  

Now it’s a matter of matching your aspirations to the realities of the market. It is certain that the demand and number of projects will not be the same in one field as another. For example, sworn translation offers plenty of opportunities, but you won’t be the only translator seeking them. On the other hand, if you target niche markets, such as oyster farming, you will have less competition, of course, but the volume of work will be lower. However, there is nothing to stop you from specializing in two areas at the same time, for example, audio-visual translation and viticulture. You just need to make sure that the specialty or specialties you are targeting will allow you to make a living.



Read up Actively on Your Subject

Now that you have made your choice, it is time to educate yourself and study the field in depth. There are many resources for collecting all the necessary information: specialized magazines, blogs, forums, associations, etc. If you don’t know which blogs to go to, use tools like Google Reader to sort blogs by topic.

Websites like Proz and The Institute of Translation and Interpreting have a wide range of training programmes for everyone.

Attending trade shows and conferences is a great way to interact with professionals from your targeted industry. Also think about checking out social networks such as Twitter and LinkedIn.


Which field(s) do you specialize in? Do you have any other advice for translators who want to specialize? Tell us all about it in our Facebook chat group