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7 Reasons Why a Specialized Translation Career Makes Sense

Becoming a professional translator is all about loving what your job. If you don’t like Japanese, Italian or German (for example), you are likely to burn out and look for an alternative career down the line.

However, one of the more exciting prospects of being a professional translator is the ability to specialize in a certain field. You can choose a number of fields and translation types that will make you unique among your colleagues. Let’s take a look at several examples of careers that you may want to consider:

  • Medical translation in Spanish language
  • Technical document translation in Chinese language
  • Copywriting with translation and localization for German and Scandinavian languages

The list goes on and on without any signs of stopping. This means that the prospect of being “a translator” isn’t as simple or straightforward as many people assume. With that said, I’m about to list several reasons as to why a specialized translation career makes sense both from a personal and a professional standpoint.

  • Clear career path

Seeing that you specialized in civil engineering translation or legal document translation means that you know where your career is headed. You can easily identify seminars, conferences and meet ups that are relevant to your work.

This is a benefit that general translators generally (pun intended) don’t have access to. Having a clear career development path based on your choice of translation niche will save you a lot of time and energy – not to mention the added points and references in your resume.

  • Higher pricing range

Being a specialized translator with access to resources and knowledge unbeknownst to other translators makes you special in the clients’ eyes. You are solely capable of translating that difficult legal document into Greek (for example) like no other translator out there.

You can safely bump up your prices and make much more money than before. It goes without saying that the quality of your work should (and will) reflect the price point you set out to achieve. After all, you are a professional in your niche.

  • Establishing niche authority

Niches owe their name to an Italian renaissance architectural ideology in which separate art guilds had separate spaces to show off their work in public places. This means that every “niche” had a unique work of art displayed for everyone to see. As it turns out, the logic applies to professional translation as perfectly as it did in the 16th century.

Once you establish yourself as a reliable, capable and willing professional in a narrow translation niche – the work will come by itself. Word spreads around very quickly in small industries with only a few stakeholders (who more than likely cooperate on some level). In practice this means that you will always have a source of work in some form or another because just like your clients, you are a niche professional yourself.

  • Shorter turnaround times

Professional translators who specialize in certain areas will most likely run into clients that know exactly what they need. This is one of the most important benefits of opting for a specialized translation career path rather than keeping things general.

Clients that work in small niches usually know what, why and how they want their translation or localization to look like. They are also much easier to work with since you will already be familiar with the industry and the terminology required towards getting the job done successfully. If working in a slightly less stressful environment means something for you as a person, this one should definitely be taken into account.

  • Well-informed audience

Lastly, the audience involved in consuming your translation will more than likely consist of industry professionals as well. For example, translating medical, legal or technical documents into different languages means that they are meant for trained eyes. This means that you can look forward to understanding, well-informed and patient readers that look forward to reading your texts.

It’s also quite possible to receive critical and positive feedback about your work for the betterment of your professional experience as a result. If the audience you write for means something to you as a translator, opting for a specialized career route might just be the best solution for you.

Making sense of it all (Conclusion)

It’s easy to tell someone else that a life choice “makes sense” – after all, your choices will reflect your career moving forward. Translators who are not excited about their jobs anymore or feel that the process is getting stale need to change things up.

Specializing in a certain translation area doesn’t mean that you are shutting yourself off from the rest of the translation community. Taking on regular work on the side is still a viable choice from time to time, however specialized you may be.

Translation VS Localization in Today’s Global Market

Content writing has become a pivotal factor in marketing new products and services on the global market. With so many brands and seemingly endless array of choices on the market, customers have a hard time choosing what’s best for them.

When it comes to the marketing side of things, companies usually have two choices at their disposal – translation and localization. Taking into consideration that 90% of Europeans rarely browse pages in languages other than their own (or even make purchases), it’s easy to see the appeal of pushing into a global market.

Choosing one or the other can cause an avalanche of new customers to flock around your brand or for you to lose tremendous amounts of resources and revenue. What exactly is the difference and importance of choice between translation and localization in today’s global and digital market?

What’s the difference?

  • Translation

We are all familiar with the term “translation” by now. In short, translation represents direct interpretation of information in one language and transforming it into another.

There is no room for improvisation, missed information or any additions in translation writing. The writers are not allowed to make any changes, cut any corners or basically “think” while they work on their projects.

This type of writing is viable for technical documentation, legal documents, medical files, engineering sheets, etc. Some niches have particular lingo, phrases and terminology that others don’t and have to be followed through to the letter.

  • Localization

On the other side of the spectrum we have localization – and this is where things get complicated (and interesting). Localization represents a type of interpretation of the original writing without having to translate text word for word.

This means that the writers are able to be more creative and take liberties with their writing (on the condition that they are familiar with the target language’s specific culture). Localization takes local culture, beliefs, moral code and civil history into consideration.

It is a very viable type of translation when it comes to blogs, non-scientific writing, film media subtitling and other non-academic writing forms. Choosing one or the other can have far-reaching consequences on the perception of your business in that specific language.

Which one do you need?

  • Type of content

Before anything else, make sure that you are clear on the type of content you are about to market internationally. If you are translating your company website into other languages, don’t localize anything. If you are pushing through to new markets with your products and expect sales and revenue streams – localize your content.

As you can see, the type of content you are about to push forward directly dictates the type of writing you will have to employ. Use logic and reason as well as the advice of your translation expert or marketing team before making the final call.

  • Specific international regions

No two regions are alike when it comes to the choice of translation VS localization. For example, China has a large demographic with very different set of content expectations in the North as opposed to the South. Japanese people have a very different culture and ideology as opposed to Vietnamese, Korean or Australian audiences.

Don’t generalize regions based on their continents and vicinity of each country to one another. Take cultural factors into consideration as it is often smarter to opt for localization in these circumstances. That way you will ensure that no party is offended or threatened by your product, service or web content due to cultural differences.

  • Target demographic

Translating or localizing your content for youth and millennials isn’t the same as creating content for industry professionals. As you can see, the factors that should be taken into consideration always come back to your own content and what it is you are actually translating or localizing.

Younger generations are far more lenient towards localization mistakes or translation misunderstandings than their older counterparts. If you mistranslate important web content which can cost you clients and support in a certain region, you will have effectively failed in that market.

The bottom line

The choice between translation and localization isn’t an easy one. This is mostly due to the fact that any mistakes usually end up going viral on the internet which can hurt your reputation and standing in the industry.

Pay close attention to your competitors’ choices in this matter and do proper research about the countries you are preparing content for. Rushing into a marketing campaign blindly will likely result in a negative outcome. Choose your content optimization option wisely.

Subtitling – Part II

(4)    Why didn’t you list (audio) transcription as a common step of the subtitling process?

Transcription of the audio is not necessarily part of subtitling. A common misconception is that the translator needs to type the text in the original language before, and only then begin working on the subtitles proper. The truth is most translators work faster by listening to the audio in one language and typing it directly into the other language.

Nevertheless, the transcribed material is sometimes used by clients for preparing manuals or other sorts of texts in the source language (i.e. original language). Most subtitling professionals will provide you with the transcription if you make it clear you also need the original content in writing. Remember this service takes time and, therefore, should be agreed upon beforehand. It will certainly be charged as an extra service.

(5)    How many professionals do I need to hire?

This depends on what product you need and the type of professional(s) you hire. Some translators only do the linguistic part of the job, whereas others handle the full video editing process. Some of them will deliver the subtitled video after having outsourced the video editing phase, for instance. Here’s our advice: describe the final product you need; the translator will most likely give you some options and tell you what s/he is able or unable to do.

To maximize your results and minimize costs, we suggest you do everything at once. Translating the material this week with one professional, then looking for another professional to edit the film next month might result in wasted time and money. Even if two or more professionals are involved, the process will be streamlined if they can communicate and agree on certain technical details.

(6)    Besides the video itself, what other material should I provide?

Other than the reference materials you’d usually send before any sort of translation task, good written support materials (audio transcription, original script, dialog list, etc.) often make translators less prone to misunderstanding the audio. It might also speed up the process, since the professional won’t have to listen to an unclear excerpt numerous times before s/he gets the right message. Many translators add a surcharge when this type of written reference material is not available.

(7)    Are there legal issues, such as intellectual rights, that I should be concerned about?

If you are the creator or legal owner of the audiovisual material, you obviously have the right to translate and distribute it. And, when you hire a translator, you usually retain the intellectual rights over the translation as well. This may not be the case in every country and every situation, though. So, if you have intellectual property concerns, discuss them with the translator in advance.

In the case of third-party contents (films or TV shows, videos from another company, or even materials downloaded from websites such as YouTube), you must acquire the rights to translate them and distribute it. A copyright breach could entail legal consequences for you and the professionals involved.

Now that you know a bit more about subtitling, we hope you can optimize the communication with your translator from the onset of each project and, consequently, achieve the best results. Feel free to email us and use the comment section to ask questions about subtitling and the audiovisual translation field.