Translation Specializations: Which Is Right For You?

Written by Mo Stone

As technology and globalization make our world ever-more accessible, translation services continue to be in demand, with the need for different kinds of translation continuing to grow. To rise above the competition, it’s a good idea for translators to specialize in one of the many niches of the industry. But which should you choose? In this article, we spell out some of the main branches of translation and the skills needed for each, and highlight some of the fast-growing sectors of the trade. 

Literary Translation: For Wordsmiths

Perhaps the first type that comes to mind when one thinks of translation is literary translation. Just as the name implies, literary translation is translating written works like novels, stories, poems and plays. Literary translators are some of the highest-paid positions in the translation world, but with good cause, as this is one of the most difficult. Literary translators need to not only pay attention to the words, but also the context and feeling of the words and the cultural differences between the original language and the target language. Successful literary translators must be creative, detail-oriented, and be good writers in the translated language. 

Audiovisual Translation: For Videophiles and Gamers

With the sheer abundance of streaming content available online, the need for audiovisual translators is growing. These translators work with subtitles, video games, and any type of media that involves translating the spoken word into the written one. In addition to language proficiency, audiovisual translators must be well-versed in audio and video production and be familiar with using software and tools such as subtitling software. 

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Software Localization: For The Web Literate

In our online world, software localization is an area of translation that is increasingly in-demand. Translators specializing in this type adapt software and websites into a local language for users around the world. While software localization can be quite technical, and require the translator to be well-versed in specialized software and tools, this kind of translation also necessitates strong cultural knowledge as well to ensure that the message of the brand or website is not altered through the translation process. 

Technical Translation: For The Detail-Oriented

Technical translation remains a huge part of the industry, as more and more companies go global and require these services in order to do business in other countries. Technical translators work with documents such as training materials, user’s manuals, and product specifications. This branch of translation requires a high level of accuracy, and sometimes knowledge in specific industries such as science and engineering. In addition, technical translators need to be detail-oriented about formatting and often will have to translate language on illustrations and diagrams as well. 

Professional Translation: For Those With Special Know-How

There are also some areas of translation that require more background knowledge of local culture and terminology, such as legal and medical translation. With these specialties, precision is paramount, as inaccuracies could be costly or dangerous. However, if you have the right skills, these areas of professional translation could be lucrative. 

Which translation specialization sounds most interesting to you? And are there any that we forgot? Tell us in the comments below!

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