How to specialize in the medical Field as a Translator/Interpreter?
Medical translators and interpreters are of invaluable assistance to medical facilities. Their
services make it possible to communicate with patients of varying nationalities and language abilities, they enable
important documents to be translated accurately into a variety of languages and as a result reduce the risks of
mistakes made by physicians and other medical facilities or suppliers through language difficulties or poor
To become a medical interpreter or translator, most individuals begin with at least one high school
diploma. Although college degrees are not actually required, many translators and interpreters do have college
A medical interpreter/ translator must speak at least two languages fluently, typically English and
one additional language. They must also have in-depth knowledge and obviously understanding of medical terms and
phrases. So much so, that they are frequently faced with tests in
medical terminology and of course their language skills when attending interviews.
A range of universities and colleges offer certificate programs specifically designed for medical
interpreters/ translators. While these certificates are not a typical requirement, they will help to be hired by
companies as an interpreter, especially when first starting out in the field.
Having some experience working in some medical setting, as an assistant, nurse or similar, for
example, will naturally also provide a more detailed knowledge of medical terminology.
Either way, it will be necessary to gain such knowledge before attempting to specialize in medical
translations. No company will take the risk of employing a medical interpreter or translator without this
knowledge, as the potential consequences of mistakes made through lack of medical knowledge could be very serious
to say the last.
Naturally, this means a knowledge of these terms and phrases, as well as possible non-medical
alternatives, in both languages. Knowing every term used in English alone, for example, is of little use when
attempting to produce medical translations into Hindi, for example.
Actually spending some time and working within medical fields in the country where the chosen
language is spoken will help tremendously in advancing and broadening knowledge of both medical and non-medical
terms, as well as cultural and traditional requirements to be considered during interpretations/
Naturally, medical interpreters need to be able to think quickly, have excellent communications
skills and the ability to accurately express often very complex concepts and ideas.
The terms translator and interpreter are often interchanged, but it should be noted that a
translator typically concentrates on written translations of a variety of documents, while an interpreter is
usually used to allow for verbal communication between individuals of varying
While a translator typically works from his or her office, an interpreter will spend much of his or
her time traveling to various locations where their services are required to enable face to face
Becoming a medical translator/ interpreter is by no means an easy undertaking, but the job
satisfaction, especially when working as an interpreter, will well and truly make up for the time and effort
invested in this career choice.