certified interpreter

The Coronavirus pandemic has exposed the unmet need for medical interpreters throughout the United States. In April 2020, the University of Louisville Hospital in Kentucky saw Spanish and Amharic medical interpreters providing assistance to 30 to 40 people each day. And that’s just one hospital and two languages!

 

As the number of limited-English speakers continues to rise, so does the demand for certified medical interpreters who can assist patients and healthcare professionals. That means now is the perfect time to become one.

 

Education and Training for Medical Interpreters

 

While the career path is different for everyone, you must have at least a high school or equivalent diploma. Some interpreters earn Bachelor’s degrees in foreign languages, translation studies, or in healthcare-related fields. Others enroll in medical interpreting certificate programs that require a certain number of training hours to complete. (These are typically offered by universities and are different from national certifications.)

 

Many hospitals, clinics, and healthcare systems have their own in-house requirements for hiring interpreters. You don’t need to become certified, but it’s the best way to ensure you can work anywhere.

 

Certifications for Medical Interpreters  

 

Unlike legal interpreting, few states offer certification. However, there are two national organizations that certify medical interpreters. The qualifications are similar, but there are a few key differences. Let’s take a look at each:

 

The Certification Commission for Health Care Interpreters (CCHI)

 

To get certified through the CCHI, you must:

 

  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • Have a U.S. high school diploma (or GED) or the equivalent from another country.
  • Complete a minimum of 40 hours of medical interpreter training.
  • Demonstrate proficiency in English and the language for which you’re seeking certification.
  • Pass the CoreCHI, a 100 multiple-choice computer-based exam that covers the basics of medical interpreting.
  • Pass an oral exam in English and the target language, if you want to get certified for Arabic, Mandarin, or Spanish.

 

You’ll also need to complete 16 hours of continuing education every two years to maintain your CCHI certification.

 

The National Board for Certified Medical Interpreters (NBCMI)

 

The NBCMI only offers certification exams for Spanish, Russian, Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean, and Vietnamese. To get certified, you must:

 

  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • Have a high school diploma (or GED).
  • Complete a minimum of 40 hours of medical interpreter training.
  • Demonstrate proficiency in English and the language for which you’re seeking certification.
  • Pass a multiple-choice written exam in English.
  • Pass an oral exam after you’ve passed the written exam.

 

To maintain your NBCMI, you’ll need to complete 30 hours of approved training every five years.

 

Preparing for the Future

 

Once you become a certificated medical interpreter, you can work anywhere in the U.S. And telehealth and remote interpreting options make it easier than ever to accept assignments no matter where you live.

 

If you’re already a working medical interpreter, give Boostlingo’s interpreting platform a try. You can manage your onsite schedule, take on-demand video or over-the-phone requests, and more!

 

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