Survey results: Participants


184 people clicked on the link

164 filled in at least the first few questions

Most translators’ clients are based in the Netherlands, this is probably due to the fact that my name is known on the Dutch Facebook group “Vertalerskoffiehoek”. Even though I put a post about my survey on many translator Facebookgroups, I think this shows how much goodwill goes into filling in a Survey; people do it more readily for someone that they know (even if it is just a little).

English is of course a very big working language for translators, no surprises there. The large number of translators working into Dutch probably has the same explanation as in the graph above.

Many “fresh” translators. This could be due to the fact that there are a lot of people who start out in the translation business only to decide later on that it is not for them, and/or to the fact that beginning translators turn to Facebook and online forums more often. Translators who have many years experience are also older on average and therefore might have a smaller internet presence.

Translators were asked to fill in for every area if they did this never, sometimes or often. To get numerical results I scaled never as 0, sometimes as 1 and often as 2.

Translators had the option under “other” to fill in their area of expertise. Some of these answers showed me that I had missed some important areas (subtitling and arts). Some others I feel would have fit in with the areas I had mentioned in the survey, but I should have stipulated that. Looking at the additions translators made, I think I should have called “science” “science/ education”, “legal” should have been “legal/government” and “marketing” should have been “marketing/tourism”. Some translators (though not many) wrote things in the “other” section that I felt did fit in with the categories I had given, such as “HR” (which I think fits under business) and “fashion” (which I would put under marketing).

There was also somebody who specialised in philately, which I had to look up: it is “the collection and study of postage stamps”. Great to know and another reason I should have added the category “culture/history/arts”.

Based on this survey I would say that good categories for translator specialisations are:

Books (fiction and non-fiction)


Culture/ history/ arts


Legal/ government


Software/ games/ apps



Business/ financial

Market research/ surveys


Of course, this is just my conclusion based on this one survey. Proz, for example, has the following division:



Social sciences







So Proz does not differentiate between books and other types of text, which makes sense because they are looking at the type of language you are good at translating. I was looking at the type of work translators do, and novel translators have a very different business life from marketing translators.

I have to wonder at the law/patents combination, though. A friend of mine does patents and they are super technical. There’s some legal language in there but it’s always the same, the new language is the description of the machine or drug or whatever is being patented…

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