The profession of translator
Technical and specialised translation means the translation of virtually everything apart from literary fiction.
Technical and specialised translators work on a vast range of documents in a vast range of subjects, such as user instructions, commercial documents, agreements and contracts, banking and financial texts, academic theses, medical devices and phamacology to design, art and fashion – and these are just a few examples.
A technical and specialised translator masters one or more language combinations and is very familiar with one or more specialist fields. Technology and society develop rapidly, so it is important for a translator to keep up to date and quickly acquire the necessary information and terminology in their fields of translation.
Most SFÖ members only work into their native language, but some members are bilingual or multilingual and have more than one target language.
Most technical and specialised translators work freelance as sole traders, in partnerships or in limited companies, alone or in a group. Some are employees of translation agencies. Several of these agencies are corporate members of SFÖ. Other translators are employees of companies or organisations, but it is more common for companies and organisations to engage the services of translation agencies, individual translators or small businesses for their translation assignments.
Translators work directly with an end-customer or with a translation agency, which in turn receives assignments from industrial or commercial enterprises, organisations and authorities.
Many translators work for both direct clients and translation agencies.
A translation agency is a company whose business is to provide its clients with translations in many different subject fields and language combinations. The translation agency may have translators among its employees, but most translation assignments are placed with individual translators or small businesses who act as subcontractors to the translation agency.
In addition to having good linguistic knowledge, many active translators have professional experience or specialist qualifications in their fields of translation, but nowadays an increasing number of technical and specialised translators come straight from training courses for translators at a college or university and build up their subject expertise as they go along. A good technical and specialised translator needs both theoretical expertise and practical experience.
Besides technical and specialised translators, the profession includes literary translators, who translate fiction, and translators who specialise in film scripts, and material for television. Authorised translators also translate technical and specialised texts, but they have passed the authorisation examination of Kammarkollegiet (the Legal, Financial and Administrative Services Agency), which entitles them to translate official documents and certify translations with a special stamp. Interpreters work with verbal translation or sign language.