There is much more to being a successful translator than just constantly perfecting your source and target skills. It is equally important to have an extensive knowledge about the subject matter. There is no way to do a great job translating a text from one language into another, if you fail to grasp the terminology and the meaning it conveys. It seems that in this job you never cease to learn. Translators seem to always be on the lookout for ways to increase your competence.
What can you do to acquire competence? There are numerous educational resources at your disposal ranging from formal training, work experience, trade events and workshops, online webinars or independent reading.
An interesting option is to take part in one of many online courses provided by platforms such as Coursera or Udacity. These are organized by reputable universities from around the world, including MIT or Yale. Most of them are available free of charge (you only pay for the certificate). There is a wide array of courses to choose from. You can pursue ones directly related to the translation itself, like this one, aimed at English-to-Chinese translators. Another way to go is to look for courses that expand the knowledge in the subjects you specialize in.
One thing that’s definitely difficult to overrate is high research competence and willingness to learn about a subject through independent reading. It is always a good practice to keep abreast of the most recent developments in the area of specialization. You should regularly check out the news in all sorts of media, both in your source and target languages. You may want to use multiple sources to make sure the data you are collecting is credible and up to date. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box about the potential sources of information, like interviewing people, visiting museums. You shouldn’t hesitate to contact your clients and ask questions.
What do you do to increase your competence as translators and expand your area of expertise?