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How to Become a Medical Interpreter

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If you are fluent in another language or even a few different languages, then a career as a medical interpreter might be just the ticket for you. Medical interpreters provide translation services to patients with limited English skills. They help patients communicate with health-care providers. Medical interpreters assist doctors and nurses in obtaining medical histories, explaining medical procedures and translating questions and answers. Interpreters are in high demand, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Minimal qualifications include a high school diploma, and fluency in English and at least one other language.

Decide if this is the right career for you. Are you bilingual or on your way to becoming fluent in a second language? Would you be comfortable working in a medical environment? If so, visit the International Medical Interpreters Association (IMIA) website to further explore the career.

Undertake additional training and education if yours is lacking. A high school diploma is essential, and college is helpful. If you are new to the field, you may want to consider taking training courses in medical interpreting offered by many colleges, such as the City University of New York, or the University of Georgia. You also can find programs online. Coursework includes training in medical terminology, communication skills, privacy laws and ethics.

Obtain the appropriate credentials. While not required in all settings, becoming a Certified Medical Interpreter can enhance your attractiveness to potential employers. Certification is available through the IMIA.

Apply for jobs, or start your own business. Most medical interpreters work for hospitals, university medical centers and private practices, but a considerable number work on their own as independent contractors.

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