Translation assignments run the gamut — generalists must become instant experts in the topic of the day.
The irony is that beginning translators will take almost any job. On occasion, they will even quote on jobs without knowing much about the subject — and they may get those jobs because their prices are lower than specialists. But the adage applies: you get what you pay for.
And there is another truism involved here — a translator needs a certain amount of experience in order to determine her niche. She needs to know what subject areas are in demand for her language pair, what type of material she enjoys translating, and what writing styles she has command of in her native language.
There’s a moral to this story, but as this is a test post, I’ll leave it for another time.