What Is Medical Interpreting? – How To Be Such Interpreter

Medical interpreting is the process of a medical interpreter helping limited hearing or non-English speakers communicate with doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals.


What is Medical Interpreting?

Medical interpreters can work as freelancers, have their own business, work for an interpreting agency, or work for a medical facility.

Also, medical interpreters need to be fluent in two different languages and also have knowledge of medical terminology.

Medical Interpreter Acts As A Bridge
What is Medical Interpreting

Since medical interpreters are the bridge between patients and medical professionals, they must have superb communication skills. They need to be able to listen closely to details and speak in a clear and respectful manner. Medical interpreters must also interpret nonverbal communication through the use of body language.

So they must also be sensitive to cultural differences so that each patient they serve feels comfortable through the interpretation process. So medical interpreters can be used in:

  • Emergency rooms
  • Mental health clinics
  • Nursing Homes
  • Physician Offices
  • Rehabilitation facilities

What’s the Difference Between a Medical Interpreter and a Medical Translator?

The main difference between a medical interpreter and a medical translator is the way in which they communicate. Although medical interpreters facilitate communication between two parties through speech or singing. On the other hand, translators communicate through the written word.

What Is Medical Interpreting
Difference Between a Medical Interpreter and a Medical Translator

Medical interpreters need to be able to explain surgical procedures, aftercare instructions, and doctor’s recommendations from one language to another.

Medical translators need to translate written content, such as:

  • Patient’s charts
  • Medical records
  • Legal documents
  • Patient history
  • Family history
  • Health issues

Why Do You Want to Be A Medical Interpreter?

Those who choose to become medical interpreters are often empathetic people who love to help others and are lovers of languages.

But learning a language is often a passion of theirs, and turning that passion into a career can be a dream come true. This field continues to grow as the United States becomes more and more diverse—increasing the need for language professionals.

If You Are Empathetic You Can Be One
Why Do You Want to Be A Medical Interpreter

Interpreting in medical settings, such as hospitals, and healthcare facilities can be very rewarding work. And medical interpreting can make a huge difference in a person’s life by providing them a voice in moments they need to express their feeling about their current state of health.

As a medical interpreter, you will have the ability to travel a good amount of time. You will see new cities, states, and countries while soaking in each culture. If you love to travel and learn new things, this career is an excellent fit for you.

How to Become a Medical Interpreter?

1. Become Fluent in Multiple Languages

In order to become a medical interpreter, you must first become fluent in more than one language. As fluency can take years to achieve through taking classes, studying at home, and through immersion experiences.

2. Receive an Education

Studying interpretation at an accredited university is a great step towards reaching your career goals. Also, many universities offer interpretation programs that will set you up for success.

3. Get Certified

Getting certified by either the Commission for Healthcare Interpreters (CCHI) or the National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters (NBCMI) will help you stand out amongst other candidates.

4. Get Experience

Get experience working in medical locations. You can start off by volunteering at local nursing homes and eventually move up to different settings.

What is the Salary of a Medical Interpreter?

According to Indeed, the average base salary of a medical interpreter is $55,533 per year. This comes out to be $23.84 per hour or $246 per day.

The salary of medical interpreters can vary between cities with the highest paying city being Atlanta, GA—paying $72,372 per year. Medical interpreters can also receive different benefits from the company they work for including:

  • Health savings account
  • Paid time off
  • Disability insurance
  • Life insurance
  • Professional development assistance
  • Referral program
  • Health insurance
  • 403(b)
  • Dental insurance
  • Tuition reimbursement
What Is Medical Interpreting
What is the Salary of a Medical Interpreter

Many medical interpreters also work as translators and vice versa. And offering services in both verbal communication and written, you will be able to diversify your income, leading to more opportunities to increase your salary through full-time work, part-time work, contract positions, and freelancing.

What are Typical Medical Interpreter Hours?

The hours for a medical interpreter can vary greatly. Physician offices typically have set hours from 9 AM – 5 PM.

Let’s say you have an interpretation session scheduled for 10 AM that is supposed to last 2 hours but is finished in just 1 hour. You could have an hour of free time from 11AM to 12PM where you can go to the gym or eat lunch.

The Typical Time Is 9 To 5
What are Typical Medical Interpreter Hours

If you choose to work in medical settings such as an ICU, your hours can change dramatically. You could receive a call at midnight and work until 4AM at the same location.

It’s fair to say that interpretation hours are not typical, but if you like having a flexible work schedule, it could be a great fit.

Are Medical Providers Required to Provide Interpreters During Medical Visits?

Under the Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the doctors or medical provider is required to provide you with an interpreter in order for you to understand what they are telling you.

If you are a patient, you should contact your medical provider before your appointment and tell them you need an interpreter. You could run into problems with hiring your own interpreter and expecting the doctor to pay for the cost of the interpreter.

Yes Medical Providers Have To Provide An Interpreter
Are Medical Providers Required to Provide Interpreters During Medical Visits

If you are a doctor or medical provider, you must hire an interpreter and treat the expense as a normal overhead cost of operating a business.

But trying to save costs by encouraging a patient to bring a family member to the interpreter for them is not a good idea. This family member does not have the medical expertise to deliver an accurate interpretation. If the patient feels they did not fully understand the risks of a medication or procedure, they could sue you for millions of dollars. It is best to hire an interpreter from a trustworthy company.

Please leave a comment if you have any other questions about medical interpreting. We will reply within 24 hours.

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