Spanish Medical Interpreter Certification

Those interested in becoming certified Spanish medical interpreters may choose to enroll in a Spanish medical interpreter program in order to pass the certification examination. Learn about what this examination entails, what kinds of medical interpreting programs are available, the courses you can take and your potential salary. Schools offering Applied Communications degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

How Do You Become a Certified Spanish Medical Interpreter?

The Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters (CCHI) offers a Spanish version of the Certified Healthcare Interpreter (CHI) examination. To qualify, you must have completed a minimum of 40 hours of healthcare interpreter training (academic or non-academic) and be fluent in both English and Spanish. You are also required to have a high school diploma or GED and be at least 18 years old. Applicants must complete a computer-based exam in English, as well as an oral exam in Spanish that tests their spoken communication skills and their ability to translate healthcare documents.

Certification OverviewSpanish speakers must take the CHI examination to become certified medical interpreters
Program OptionsCertificate and professional diploma programs in medical interpreting are available; online courses may be available through certain programs
Common CoursesMedical terminology, ethics, healthcare issues, linguistic skills
Career OptionsMedical interpreter at a hospital, medical clinic or social assistance agency
Median Salary (2018)$49,930 (Interpreters and Translators)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)18% growth (Interpreters and Translators)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

What Kinds of Spanish Medical Interpreting Programs Are Available?

Aspiring Spanish medical interpreters can take certificate or professional diploma programs in-person at various community colleges or 4-year universities to adequately prepare themselves for the CHI examination. These programs typically take a minimum of 40 hours to complete and result in either a certificate of completion or professional diploma.

Certificate programs in Spanish medical interpretation are rarely found online; however, hybrid programs offering online courses, along with weekend and night courses, may be available. You'll need a computer and Internet connection in order to access online courses. Communication with instructors and classmates is generally completed using online communication technology, such as discussion boards and e-mail. Most online courses offer flexible lectures and class meetings; however, assignments are usually due by specified deadlines.

Since Spanish medical interpreter programs are bilingual, you must be able to fluently write, read and speak both English and Spanish. Some programs may require you to pass English and Spanish assessment tests to prove your competency in the two languages. Additionally, you may be required to pass reading and math assessments.

What Courses Can I Take in a Spanish Medical Interpreter Program?

Spanish medical interpreter curricula aim to develop your linguistic competence to professional levels. You'll likely become proficient in legal vocabulary, medical terminology, healthcare analysis and cultural awareness. You will also gain an understanding of the Medical Interpreting Standards of Practice and the Health Insurance Portability and Accounting Act (HIPAA). Courses in a Spanish medical interpreter certificate program may include:

  • Spanish and English linguistic skills
  • Ethics of interpreting
  • Healthcare terminology
  • Healthcare analysis
  • Issues in healthcare for Latinos and Hispanics

Your communication skills and growth in procedural knowledge are typically assessed through oral and written exams given periodically throughout your program.

What Can I Do As a Certified Spanish Medical Interpreter?

Certified Spanish medical interpreters assist Spanish-speaking patients in communicating with healthcare professionals, such as doctors and nurses. Most Spanish medical interpreters find employment in hospitals or with other healthcare or social assistance agencies. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected a faster-than-average growth of 18% for all interpreters and translators from 2016-2026. As of May 2018, the annual mean wage for interpreters and translators in general medical and surgical hospitals was $51,680, according to the BLS.

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