How to survive in a world where everyone keeps saying that “it’s not enough to be a translator – you have to be an expert”?

Recently, a lot of opinions, publications, disputes have appeared on the topic of forecasts of what employment will look like in the future. That is, in general, any form of work. For example, Thomas Malone of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology develops perhaps the best developed theory supported by facts and research – about the so-called hyperspecialization. The point is that in the future, each worker will clearly specialize in his own narrow line of the work process for example spanish translator.

Even if we move away from the theory of hyperspecialization, many practitioners, business coaches and consultants have recently begun advising business owners and managers to support specialization in every possible way, since this is the only way to survive in the world of commerce today. In turn, hyper-specialization (or, in other words, becoming an expert) they consider the secret of success.

When it comes to specializing in translation services, the main idea is to become an expert in your field and position yourself as a specialist who uses the full range of acquired skills. But such a vague attitude inevitably leads to two important questions. First, how is becoming an expert different from actually specializing in a particular subject? And secondly, how to become a translation expert if the translator is convinced that he will not be able to reach this level in his field?

By the way, some colleagues believe that all this “fuss” with experts is just a fiction, a marketing ploy, that it is impossible to become an expert on purpose, because it comes only with years and experience. It seems that all this is so, because a beginner cannot become one, and one cannot wake up one day early in the morning and, by magic, suddenly know everything, and even skillfully use this knowledge. However, many have enough of them to put on stream the process of their accumulation. In any case, if you constantly tell yourself that we are far from the experts, then you can completely miss the opportunities provided by life.

Nevertheless, the question of becoming an expert in a field in which it seems impossible to develop to such a level remains open. This can be detrimental to the practitioner. Industry leaders talk about it, colleagues advise, almost every article runs through the idea that the one who has more knowledge and experience will survive, colleagues at the meeting declare that they have already learned to approach certain issues of translation work from an expert’s point of view . And now you already think that you are unworthy, that you do not have the necessary qualities, ingenuity, and your conditions are not the same as those of others.

Let’s explore this idea. Let’s try to answer the question “How can I become an expert if I had no experience in this field? After all, I only studied translation (languages/communication).”

First of all, it is first of all important to realize that within you there are already the makings of a true master in your field. It seems to you that a translator’s diploma does not give you anything “expert”, because you have always been surrounded by classmates-colleagues who have achieved dubiously great success in translation over 3-5 years of study. In an office full of translators, everyone is just another translator. It is very easy to slip into the idea that everyone around you knows exactly the same thing that you know, that there is nothing surprising, special, that distinguishes you from others. Add to this the time spent on forums, translation conferences and meetings with colleagues. I? Expert? Yes, this can not be! Everything I do is done by everyone else around me, so there is nothing outlandish about me.

However… this idea has nothing to do with the truth. When a translator comes to any event of professionals, where he is the only specialist in translation, it is immediately noticeable how other people appreciate what we do, what impression it makes. The more time you spend in an environment where your skills are rare, the more you realize that you are actually doing things that others can’t. In addition, at some fine moment you realize that with your work you help people, companies and other organizations, that your work carries a value that can be calculated in terms of income or the volumes that go to further invest your affairs.

Next, the next important step is to see that your work is unique to a certain extent. At what plan? You compose texts in your own unique style, you have special background knowledge, your translations never exactly repeat the translations of your colleagues (it is worth noting here that if this happens, then you should correct it, or be in trouble).

If you agree that what you are doing is rare, valuable and unique, then you are very close to realizing that you are providing real expert services (or moving in the right direction to achieve this). An integral part of becoming a professional is to stand in front of a client and recognize the power that comes from your language experience. Why, you may not know everything about accounting, finance, information technology, but you know the language of these areas! So, you have this narrow hyper-specialization that the researchers talk about.

But this is only one side of the coin. As we hinted earlier, language proficiency must be established in a specific area. In other words, you need to become an expert in language… finance, architecture, luxury marketing, fashion, technical communications, and so on. So how do we do it?

Everything always starts with a broader specialization. For example, you translate documents in three areas, mostly working with them, but over time you develop special knowledge and skills in one narrow topic – either through the selection of orders within it or through a conscious, purposeful process of specialization. Moreover, the narrower the area, the closer you are to the status of an expert.

Undoubtedly, this requires a lot of effort. A simple translation of texts on this subject will not lead you to the expected result. It is the relentless search for knowledge of the field, active study of it and the understanding that you are becoming “one of them” – that’s what it takes to say to yourself later: “I’m an expert in the language of architecture.” This is hyperspecialization at its best.

So now you can ask yourself the following questions. Is this approach new to me, or is it another step forward on the path of specialization? Or is it just a self-promotion or a way of self-consolation to call yourself an expert instead of a specialized translator?

The answers may be different, however, any goals are achieved only through actions and analysis of the consequences of their steps.