“It’s better to do one thing well than ten things poorly.”
This is the advice of internationally best-selling author Heather Hart and when it comes to professional translation services, this is definitely true.
Many professional translators choose to specialise in a particular area or subject. These range from commonly required fields such as legal translation to more rarely sought specialisms such as the translation of ancient theological texts.
Translators’ reasons for mastering their chosen fields vary. For many, it is simply a matter of personal preference – they enjoy working on medical translation more than marketing copy and thus their career heads in the direction of specialising in medical translation. For others, their specialism is led by customer demand, i.e. they shape their specialism to best meet their customers’ needs.
Whatever the reason for the chosen field, clearly mastery of it is better than an average performance in multiple fields. This mastery allows the translator to build a reputation as an expert in their chosen area, meaning that they stand out from the crowd. This means that clients will seek them out based on their skills, which in turn means that the translator can command higher rates than those with no specialism.
Of course, specialising in a certain field doesn’t preclude a translator from taking on work in other areas, so diversity of income is still highly achievable – more so than for those translators who don’t chose a specialism. It also means that the translator can apply for work with specialist translation companies, which again should prove more financially beneficial than work with non-specialist agencies.
Job satisfaction is another strong reason for a translator to master his or her chosen field. The knowledge that you have performed a job expertly is a powerful tool so far as long-term motivation and job satisfaction is concerned, and mastering a specialist field of translation is an excellent way to achieve this. In turn, this will impact on the translator’s productivity, as a happy worker is an efficient and productive worker.
Clearly, mastering your chosen translation field is important. Doing so can lead to higher income, increased job satisfaction and greater levels of productivity. So if you don’t yet have a specialism, maybe now is the time to start thinking about working towards one.
How has mastering your chosen field benefited you? What tips would you share as a result of your experiences? Let us know by leaving a comment in the box.