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  1.1 - Why being specialized will help you get more work

"To be, or not to be…" To specialize or not to specialize - That is the question:

Well maybe not quite William Shakespeare, but for anyone in the translation profession, it's actually a critical question. Do you want to be a generalist? Or do you want to focus on a specific area and become known as an expert in that specialization?

After years in this profession, my conclusion is that we invest a huge amount of our time and money in training and software but we do not take the time to plan this strategically. You may have heard or read a thousand times that expertise commands a premium on the job market but you probably do not know why and how to build some specialized skills. The aim of this article is to give you X practical and effective tips to become an expert in a certain field, plan it carefully, and therefore you will improve your productivity and get more work. Firstly, I will explore the benefits of being specialized and then the ways you can successfully achieve this.


  • General knowledge is great, but when it comes to getting paid, the world loves a specialist. Companies spend a large part of their budget on operations, research and advertising. They know how complex and valuable communication can be so they won’t risk sending material on their niche products to a translator or group of translators who do not offer that extra added value. This is a key to succeeding in the target market.
  • As an expert you will have an easier time selling your services once you find your market. In a proposal or meeting with a prospect client, you will be able to show that you know what you are talking about, obviously you will need to do your homework and research about the company but you won’t be clueless. Here a tailored proposal or phone call is crucial to show your expertise.
  • You can charge more. People in the market expect to pay for added value and a low rate can be a synonym of “poor service” in specialized fields.
  • Unlike in generalized translation where market competition is high, specialized translation has less competition. Here there are other factors to consider such as language combination to mention just one. Well, in fact if you work in a common language combination, it is must to have specialized skills. It is the only way to stand out from the crowd.

Ways to get specialized

  • Some linguists start as generalists, and then you can build some specialized skills through work experience and may even get the company to pay for a specialized degree. Don’t be afraid to ask, many companies appreciate you interest and enthusiasm especially if they see that your expertise will actually mean a knowledge advantage for them. By knowledge advantage I mean that it will help them run their business more efficiently, decrease business risks (mistranslations) and exploit opportunities to the full (their target audience will be attracted by the material). I know many companies that include this type of training as part of their knowledge strategy.
  • You don’t have to attend a prestigious university to find a specific specialized program. Carry out a thorough research and look for small, affordable colleges to find specialized programs.
  • If you feel like Socrates and think "I know that I know nothing", well that is in fact the first step on the road to wisdom. So don’t underestimate your knowledge and make a concerted effort to write articles related to your area of expertise. Don’t be afraid to send them to newspapers, journals, etc. Don’t simply write a few articles because you have some spare time, but commit to regular content creation. This will encourage you to read, research and absorb new information that you didn’t know existed.

Finally remember to have fun and enjoy your specialization journey. Once you are seen as an expert in a particular field, it can open up the door for higher paying jobs and other business opportunities.