Jobs as a Medical Interpreter

July 26, 2012 · Posted in Business 

A medical interpreter, or health-care interpreter, provides translation services for healthcare patients who do not speak the native language well. They primarily interpret oral communication between the patient and health care professionals such as doctors and nurses. Workers in this specialty may also translate written documents from a healthcare facility into a language the patient can understand. This type of interpreter must have a strong understanding of medical terminology in both languages in addition to familiarity with the patient’s culture.

At a minimum, the medical interpreter will need to have an understanding of at least 2 languages. Many of those who fill this role come from a bilingual background. During their high school years, the interested individual will want to ensure that they take English, along with several foreign language courses. Time should be taken to travel to other countries to learn more about cultures and to get a better understanding of those they will be helping. In addition to this, their future in a medical interpreting service will also benefit from reading content presented in a foreign language.

The interested individual looking at the medical interpreter position will want to ensure that they meet the basic education requirements for the job. For this position, a bachelor’s degree is usually required. The major can be in anything, including a foreign language, although many choose to take courses in a medical field. Many colleges do offer a formal program for this position, while you will also find some non-university programs.

Due to the nature of their position, medical interpreters find that they do end up in an examination room. As a result, they will need to be sensitive when it comes to medical issues. Part of this will mean that they will need to understand and present information with precision and ensure that the information is translated exactly how it is presented from the physician. They will also help the doctors with questions and respond with answers that get across what the patient is saying.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts the employment of interpreters will increase by 22 percent between 2008 and 2018. This employment increase is much higher than the expected average for all occupations. This increase in demand is directly attributable to the increase in the number of people in the United States who do not speak English as a native language. A medical interpreter who speaks Spanish, French, German or Italian will have the best employment prospects. The demand for interpreters who can use American Sign Language will also increase rapidly during the next decade.

The BLS provides salary statistics for medical interpreters as of 2010. The United States had 44,200 workers in this occupation with an average hourly wage of $23.94 an hour, equal to an average annual salary of $49,790. An interpreter at the 10th percentile of the salary range earned $22,950 per year and those at the 25th percentile made $31,610 per year. Workers at the 75th percentile averaged $61,130 per year and those at the 90th percentile made $86,410 per year.

California had the highest employment of interpreters in 2010 with a total of employment of 7,200 workers. Texas employed the next largest number of interpreters at 3490 and New York employed 2,920 interpreters. North Carolina had 2,300 interpreters in 2010 in Massachusetts employs 1,500 interpreters. Medical interpreters comprise approximately seven percent of all interpreters in the United States.

Thank you to FLS Translation for information on translation and interpreting services .

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