Alumni Testimonial #12 - How To Become a Medical Interpreter: The Ultimate Guide Part 2

Jul 11, 2023

If you've ever wondered how to become a Medical Interpreter then you’re in the right place. Welcome to part 2 of the 4 part series on How To Become a Medical Interpreter.


Once you’re done reading this, you’ll know exactly what steps to take depending on if you decide to become a certified In-House Medical Interpreter or a fully Freelance Medical Interpreter.

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Judy Franco Testimonial

"It is quite easy to become stationary in life; comfort is the greatest enemy to progress. Upon graduating from a Foreign Medical School, I lost my father, and my mother became ill. It was easy to dream as a child, but reality forced me to focus on survival first. Being the eldest of three forced me to find work to support the family. I was not able to complete my dream as a Medical Doctor. As a result, I became a very independent and strong individual. I have assumed these responsibilities my entire life and put my goals on hold.

I have decided to return to school at the age of sixty-three as a role model for women because it is never too late to dream, and age is just a number. I have worked a multitude of both administrative and medical jobs in which I have always been the interpreter for individuals whom Spanish is their primary language. The confidence, respect, and honesty I give and receive are priceless.

In conclusion, I would like to state that I have been able to appreciate the need for

patience, tactfulness, and sensitivity when dealing with patients. My experiences have enlightened my way of thinking as a human being both mentally and physically. I will continue to utilize my skills in closing cultural and language gaps that often exists between health care providers and their patients."

How do I apply and become an in-house Medical Interpreter?

Most Interpreters work in one of two settings:

1.) The in-house medical facility, being that of a hospital, health clinic,

or doctor’s office.

2.) The other is the telephone interpreter, working remotely from home

and being patched through to a live patient/provider interaction.


If you choose the first setting in obtaining a position as an in-house medical interpreter, the first step is to be sure you have your 60 hour training.


That is a basic requirement posted by most employers. Many employers in

competitive areas will also require a 160 hour diploma program.


The next step is to get some experience under your belt. This may sound

counter-intuitive since you are attempting to get a job in the first

place. But hospitals are creatures of habit and they feel much better about

hiring someone with the background and experience in the industry.


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The Internship

In order to accomplish this, you may choose to either be a volunteer or an



Most healthcare organizations have a very robust volunteer pool and

orientation process. This is a great way to get in the door at your local

healthcare facility.


As a volunteer you will work where placed. Once they know you are

bilingual, you will most likely work in a customer service function.


If you would like to  work for a specific clinic or department however,

you may then request directly from that department head or

supervisor to work as an unpaid intern.


You need not work many hours a week in either capacity, usually 5-10

hours a week will do. The length of time is the important factor here.


Usually 6 months as a volunteer or intern is sufficient to add to your resume

and thus able to list it as work experience. Don’t forget to get a letter of

reference from your immediate supervisor.


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The Resume

As alluded earlier, a letter of reference is essential to the hiring

manager. If you don’t have much work experience as a medical interpreter

then focus on your training and personal traits.


It is always good to list your ability to work with computers and all of your

bilingual abilities to include proficiency test. Do not make the resume more

than two pages.


Including a picture of yourself is also a good idea as it makes you more

than just a name, people remember faces. Lastly, be sure to convey

positivity in your resume and subsequently your interview. You can

obtain a good resume format from Microsoft docs templates as well as

google docs templates.


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The Application

When applying for a healthcare position, keep in mind that most

healthcare organizations are drug free workplaces and most are also

smoke free. Be sure to be honest in your application.


For all positions that you left, state that you left for career advancement.

It is a good idea to have in a word document all of your experience, to

include time worked as well as salary and contact person for all of

your positions worked for the past 5-10 years.


If you have all of this pre-typed then it is just a matter of

copying and pasting if electronic application or transcribing if written.


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The Interview

It always a good idea to prepare well for an interview. Google

common interview questions and know the answers you will give.


Also, prepare a three to four paragraph intro bio to give when they ask you

‘Tell me about yourself.” Always be positive during the interview. Try not to talk

badly about your ex-employers. If you do not know how to do something,

say I do not know but I am willing to learn and I am a quick learner.


Do your best to not about salary or benefits during the interview no matter

how tempting it may seem.


Do ask about workplace culture, specific duties and responsibilities, etc.

Always thank your interviewer for the opportunity and ask them for

the job. Say something like "I am positive I can do this job well, and would

love it if you would give me the opportunity to shine."


Lastly, send a thank you note two-three days after the interview and re-ask for

the position if appropriate.


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What it takes to be a Freelance Medical Interpreter

To be a Freelance Medical Interpreter, one must have much of the

same skills sets and experience as an in-house interpreter, yet in addition,

you must possess tenacity and perseverance.


It helps if you have a group of hospitals or health clinics that are familiar

with your abilities and work ethic that you can utilize as your main group

of contact.


To accomplish this networking partnership the Freelance Interpreter

would be well served in establishing these relationships first by volunteering

or interning with hospitals in the area.


Once those connections are made the Freelance interpreter would

need to set up a business:

1.) Get an EIN number by going to the site

2.) Register business through the Secretary of State website of your


3.) Get a business address and phone (this can be your personal info)

however most interpreters choose to provide some anonymity between

their personal lives and their business.

4.) Get business cards and logo. These can be obtained through

vistaprint or a similar site

5.) Get a website or social media presence. Most freelancers will set

up a Facebook or LinkedIn page.


Once your business is set up you may begin marketing your services

to the community. Local churches and or organizations servicing the

population of patients you seek to interpret for would be your first natural

customers. Prepare educational seminars for them and request to speak at

their gatherings.


Lastly, be prepared to file a 1099 form for your taxes. When doing so,

be aware that you may deduct your mileage, your work related purchases,

as well as any phone or internet charges related to conducting your

freelance work. You are in essence your own small business and are

treated as one by the IRS.


In conclusion, being a freelance interpreter gives you much flexibility

and autonomy. You set your own schedule and develop your own

clientele. So long as you have a good work ethic and are professional you

should not have any difficulty building your customer base and providing for

your self a living wage and income.




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If you would like to learn more schedule a discovery call today!

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