Medical interpreting is an exciting career with an expanding future. As medicine continues to solve diverse health challenges faster and better, medical interpreters get a front-row seat to the action. Helping people communicate about their health is rewarding too.
Exchanging medical language is a craft that draws on evolving bases of vocabulary. Interpreters convert oral language, while translators exchange written information. Medical interpreters commit to updating their medical knowledge and vocabulary. In today’s globalizing world, interpreters’ commitments are rewarded with a 24% job growth rate.
Whether you’re researching to see if medical interpreting is in your future, preparing for certification or testing, or continuing your education, you’ll benefit from the information ALTA has compiled to meet the growing demand in many languages. After an exam or two, your oral proficiency in two languages can be channeled into a promising career.
Is Medical Interpreter Certification Necessary?
For natives with dual-language proficiency, medical interpreter certification may seem like overkill. Those with certified medical skills or interpreting skills may be more inclined to think so. However, converting medical information from one language to another involves high risk.
While the risks for business and even legal interpreting may seem high, there’s no risk quite like damaging someone’s health. Even errors in legal interpreting can be more easily rectified. Medical facilities and services need a professional, one with the ability to pass an examination.
The good news about interpreter credentials is there are national, standardized tests like the CCHI and NBCMI. Don’t let the official nature of written and oral exams intimidate you. Large-scale standardized tests offer learning paths already paved for aspiring interpreters. The test-centered learning process is already laid out for you to pass with great scores.
Skills for the Test and Interpreting
Personal Interpreting Skills
- Notetaking – Notetaking increases accuracy and informational capacity.
- Memory Development – Memory is a muscle that strengthens with practice.
- Visualization – A technique that attaches mental images to words for easier recall.
- Consecutive Interpretation – Speakers pause for interpreters to relay their speech.
- Simultaneous Interpretation – Often executed in pairs, simultaneous interpreting allows viewers of a meeting or presentation to receive oral information in real time.
- Sight Translation – An interpreter reads a text, then speaks their conversion aloud.
- Ethics and Standards – An interpreter needs to be accurate, impartial and respectful. By operating confidentially and correcting errors, they interpret as a professional.
- Medical Terminology – Learning a breadth of medical terminology and keeping up with new terminology is part of the fun.
- The Specialties: Cardiology, Oncology, etc. – Learning the terminology of popular medical specialties prepares for interpreting in diverse medical situations.
Stages of Preparation
- 40-hour medical interpreter training – Forty hours is the standard amount of preparation before beginning to work.
- Certificate of Qualification – Certification usually involves a written exam and an oral exam.
The two major credentials, which can be held simultaneously, are:
- CCHI – Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters – CHI or Core CHI
- NBCMI – National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters – CMI or Hub CMI
The languages offered differ between the subdivisions of these two (CHI, CMI). The number of years the certification lasts varies more with NCBMI. Healthcare interpreting experience is not required for NBCMI.
A certified interpreter maintains certification with additional credits:
- CCHI – requires 32 hours of continuing education every 4 years, with 4 hours spent in performance-based preparation.
- NBCMI – requires 30 hours (3 CEUs) of approved preparation, within 5 years of initial testing.
ATLA: All-Inclusive or Specialized Training Solutions
Whether you’re starting your career or updating your final credits a few years before retiring, trusting experts in healthcare interpreter preparation is a wise career move. ALTA has offered linguistic training and testing for more than 35 years. While other companies are just getting into online course development, ALTA has been providing interactive online education since 2016.
In order to jumpstart the medical interpreting careers of bilingual candidates, ALTA has synthesized the three parts of a Certificate of Qualification into one course. Trainees graduate after simultaneously fulfilling the requirements of:
- 40 hours of interpreter training
- Proof of English fluency
- Proof of fluency in the target language
As an active medical wordsmith, you know what information and exercise will be valuable as you continue. You’ll find no shortage of educational gold in our continuing education units. ALTA has expertly designed test preparation recognized by CCHI & NBCMI.
Cost-effective bundles of training units take your investments in yourself further.
On-demand lessons develop interpreting skills for the 2020s.
Private coaching offers a dynamic feedback loop with one of our interpreters, who has expertise in developing others’ interpretational skills.