As many of you will know, I specialise in corporate communications and tourism.
I worked in administration for two years before I went to university to study languages. After graduation I taught English in Spain in order to improve my spoken Spanish. While I was there a contact I met through teaching learnt that I had an interest in translation and asked if I could translate a company report from Spanish into English for him because his regular translator was ill. Although I had never translated in a professional capacity before I found that my previous experience doing administration work for financial organisations meant I understood the layout and terminology of company reports. My contact was pleased with my work and he became my first client. I translated a range of corporate documents and contracts for him and I was very fortunate in that he knew I was just getting started as a translator and enabled me to learn from my mistakes. One of my favourite jobs for him was the translation of a chapter from a travel guide. I have been travelling and reading travel guides from a young age which turned out to be informal CPD for translating this type of text and I soon added tourism as a specialisation.
Advantages and disadvantages
There are advantages and disadvantages to learning your specialisations on the job like I did. The main advantages are that you learn straightaway how to adapt your knowledge to the texts you are translating and you are killing two birds with one stone by doing your CPD on the job. The disadvantage is that your future clients may not recognise this “informal” CPD and you might end up having to take courses to formalise your learning.
Many posts have been written about the importance of specialising and since my language combinations are common I have found it very productive to have strong specialisations, even if I have to keep reminding some agencies what these specialisations are!