Medical Interpreter Certification and Training

Certified medical interpreters help patients understand charts, prescriptions, diagnoses and medical terminology, as well as ensure doctors can communicate with patients. Explore your options for medical interpreter training via certificate programs and get information on online availability and professional certification. Schools offering Applied Communications degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Kind of Training is Available for Aspiring Medical Interpreters?

Several schools offer medical interpreter training in the form of certificate programs. Most of these programs require you to display your proficiency in a second language, such as Spanish, Portuguese, Korean or Chinese. These programs typically take 1-2 years to complete, and your studies will primarily focus on the role of the health care interpreter, common medical conditions and treatments, and methods for approaching basic cultural differences in the context of a health care environment. Programs also prepare you to take the written and oral certification exams administered by the National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters (NBCMI).

Training ProgramsCertificate programs in medical interpreting are available at various schools
Program RequirementsFour or five classes with a concentration on medical terminology, professional communication and interpreting; internships or fieldwork may also be required
Online OptionsOnline certificate programs are available but uncommon; individual courses in medical interpreting may be available
Certification PrerequisitesOne year's experience in the field, or a high school diploma and completion of an accredited program
Average Salary $47,210 for medical interpreters in May 2015*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

How Do Certificate Programs Work?

Most certificate programs in medical interpreting consist of courses with a focus on medical terminology and professional skills. You'll take four or five classes, some of which will likely cover interpersonal and intercultural communication; other coursework usually includes basic medical terminology and medical interpreting. You'll also be expected to complete an internship or some type of fieldwork.

Can I Earn a Certificate Online?

Some schools may offer full certificate programs or individual courses in medical interpreting online. The curriculum for an online program is essentially similar to what you would study in an on-campus program. In order to participate in an online medical interpreting program or class, you'll need access to a computer and the Internet. You may also need to download additional software, such as Windows Media Player or Adobe Acrobat.

How Do I Become a Certified Medical Interpreter?

The NBCMI offers certification to those looking for additional credentialing in this area. To earn certification -- also known as the Certified Medical Interpreter (CMI) credential -- you'll need to have at least one year's experience in the field or meet various educational requirements. These requirements include a high school diploma and completion of an accredited medical interpreter program. You'll also need to have verifiable proficiency in English and a foreign language, which is usually evaluated through written and oral certification exams.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of May 2015, interpreters employed by general medical and surgical hospitals earned an average annual salary of $47,210. Job prospects are best for interpreters with professional certification.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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