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If yes, what are the most useful domains of specialisation currently? Do they depend on languages or national markets?

asked 16 Oct '11, 19:19

silvia-c's gravatar image


edited 17 Oct '11, 00:08

Vincent%20Buck's gravatar image

Vincent Buck

It's not necessary, but it can be useful.

You become a specialist of any conference you prepare well. Sometimes it takes days or weeks to prepare for a one-day conference.

I'm not specialised in any topic. But I do refuse to work for medicine or informatics. There are not many offers for my language combination and I prefer to recommend other colleagues who have studied i.e. medicine.

Some interpreters who work mainly at medical congresses have studied medicine and are doctors.

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answered 17 Oct '11, 16:01

Angela's gravatar image


An interpreter should always be a good generalist, able to handle a moderately technical meeting and any general one. Specialization is an investment: it will pay off if you pick the right one(s).

From a different perspective, our ethics require us to turn down assignments we are not qualified to do properly. If you don't have a general understanding of human biology, will a week be enough to prepare for a gastroenterology conference discussing surgery and drugs for GI tract ailments? If you don't understand the financial pages, will three days be enough to prepare for a complex presentation on futures and hedging? And do bear in mind that we frequently get less than adequate preparation material...

Typical specialties are medicine (including medical devices), finance or law, but as you point out, the market for any specialty will depend on your language combination. If you're planning to work on a particular area of specialization, it's a good idea to approach someone who already does so regularly and get some advice.

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answered 25 Oct '11, 01:06

LingoJango's gravatar image


Depending on where you live - especially as a freelancer - it might be useful to specialise in a field well represented in your region - say within one hour's journey from your professional domicile.

In Germany, for example, it would be advisable to know a lot about insurances if you lived in Munich. General politics, of course, in Berlin, banking in Frankfurt, automotive engineering in Munich, Stuttgart and Wolfsburg/Hanover.

But there are very few interpreters who can live on just interpreting in one field of expertise.

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answered 27 Jan '13, 21:14

AlmuteL's gravatar image


Just a few words on a very special "area of expertise" for interpreters: medecine. As a PS interpreter, I had several assignments in hospitals where I accompanied patients etc. That is, to some extent, challenging. (Ever sat in your doctor's office and couldn't understand him even though he was speaking your mother tongue? Exactly.) But it is nothing compared to medical conference interpreting. When the heads of cardiothoracic surgery departments from all over the world come together for an annual meeting, it is likely one will go down in flames. According to my mentor, you basically need to have studied medecine yourself in order to be able to interpret at such a conference. On the other hand, if you are able to specialise to some extent in medecine, it most certainly will guarantee you some assignments others cannot (or should not...) accept. In Berlin for instance interpreting agencies are often desperately looking for qualified medical CI (again, not PS) interpreters.

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answered 28 Jan '13, 04:45

KaPe's gravatar image


edited 28 Jan '13, 04:46

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question asked: 16 Oct '11, 19:19

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