Medical Translator Certificate or Medical Interpreter Certificate?

Medical Translator Certificate or Medical Interpreter Certificate?

Medical Translator CertificateWhat’s the most important thing you need as a medical interpreter in order to apply for jobs? You might respond quickly: “A medical translator certificate of course”! However, in this instance you would be making a very common mistake. In fact, it is not a medical translator certificate that you need, but a medical interpreter certificate in order to apply for the competitive and sought after jobs in the medical interpreter field.


The Difference between a Medical Translator Certificate and a Medical Interpreter Certificate

A medical translator certificate, while not a commonly used term, could refer to a medical translator being certified – meaning he or she has gone through a series of exams to test his or her skill level. An example of such an exam is that offered by the American Translators Association (ATA).

A medical interpreter certificate on the other hand, is a certificate that demonstrates an interpreter has passed the National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters (NBCMI) exam, proving he or she is qualified to perform medical interpreting. This certificate allows medical interpreters to apply for jobs at hospitals and other medical institutions.

Although common practice among people, it is perhaps an interpreter’s biggest pet peeve when they are referred to as a “translator”. All interpreters will understand what is meant by inquiring about a “medical translator certificate” however, there is a very large difference between medical translation and medical interpreting.


The Difference between Medical Translation and Medical Interpreting

Medical Translation CertificateMedical translation and medical interpreting describe two different jobs:  conveying written medical information from one language to another, and conveying spoken medical information from one language to another respectfully. To break it down:

  • Medical Translation is written
  • Medical Interpretation is spoken

The processes for medical translation training and medical interpreter training can be very different, as translation will focus mostly on written skills while interpreting will focus on oral ones. A medical interpreter without proper training usually should not attempt to perform any form of written medical translation. Why? Just as medical interpreting has its own ethical code of conduct, outlining certain qualifications necessary to perform the job, translation also has a certain knowledge base and training needed in order to perform well as a professional translator.

medical translation trainingIf a medical interpreter does not have the proper experience in translation, and is asked to provide translation services by a doctor of patient forms for example, he or she can ask the doctor to read allowed the particular form and orally convey it to the patient in his or her native language.

A Medical interpreter school or program can provide aspiring medical interpreters with the necessary training to be able to pass the NBCMI exam so that they may be recognized as qualified. Such programs can also give tips outlining the differences between medical translation and medical interpreting, as well as when each is appropriate.

Such programs will also provide students with a certificate of completion of a medical interpreter training program, as a certain number of hours of training are needed to apply to certain jobs that don’t necessarily require passing the NBCMI exam. 

Get the necessary, in person training in order to pass interpreter qualification exams with our Medical Interpreter Training, Business and Community Interpreter Training, and Legal Interpreter Training Programs.

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