Medical Interpreter vs. Medical Translator: What Sets Them Apart?

Our planet is a diverse landscape of languages and cultures. Linguists estimate that humanity has over 6,500 spoken languages. There are over 300 languages spoken in the United States alone. 

What happens when someone who doesn’t speak English needs medical care in the US? Or when medical scientists make a breakthrough in a different country and American doctors need the information?

This is when a medical translator or interpreter comes to the rescue. Read on to learn about these professionals who ensure that proper communication happens.

Medical Translator Role

Medical translator jobs deal with written content. A person in this role will take paperwork in one language and translate it into English.

This means that fluency in another language might not be enough to land a medical translator job. You also need to know technical jargon and terms specific to the medical field. Incorrectly interpreting these words could have legal consequences, and could put patient safety at risk.

The Role of the Medical Interpreter 

A medical interpreter deals with people. Interpreters are responsible for ensuring that proper communication happens between healthcare providers and patients. Interpreters may also be called in to talk with family members.

It is important to distinguish that the interpreter is the conduit for communication. They are not to be spoken to in place of a patient or doctor. 

It’s critical that the interpreter makes sure everyone understands what is being said. A mistranslation could result in harm to the patient.

Training and Job Outlook

As more people move to the US, healthcare professionals are seeing an increased need for medical translation services. As we mentioned before, a successful translator needs more than fluency in another language. They need proper training to make sure they know medical terms.

Despite having similar roles, translators and interpreters do not do the same things. Each job requires a different set of skills.

If you’re hoping to be an interpreter or translator, you’ll want to enroll in a program that will train you to properly communicate medical information in both languages. Have a look at a more detailed breakdown of translation training.

You do not need a college degree to translate. But, employers often require medical translation certification.

The field varies widely since healthcare spans many different types of jobs. You could find yourself working in a hospital, or perhaps a medical technology company will need your help translating the user interface of a program.

As more people move to the US, the demand for translators and interpreters will grow. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 24% increase in jobs by 2030. The average medical translator salary in the US currently sits above $40,000 per year, and you can expect that number to increase.

Help Foster Medical Communication

If you speak another language, becoming a medical translator can help make sure health information gets properly communicated. Enroll in a medical translator certification program today and fill a critical role in healthcare.

For more advice about careers in medicine, check out our Health section.

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