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How Long Does it Take to Become a Medical Interpreter in 2020

Posted by Dr. Nelva Lee on Jun 5, 2020 12:00:00 AM
Dr. Nelva Lee

 How to Become a Medical Interpreter

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 from picking the best fit training course to going about the entire Medical Interpreting certification process.

 

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Your journey begins as a soon to be Medical Interpreter!

So you have signed up for a Certificate Course or a Diploma Course and are anxious to get started on your new career as a Medical Interpreter.

Bilingual and ready to launch an exciting new career? Medical interpreters are in great demand, and it’s a truly rewarding career. As a medical interpreter, you’ll provide language support when people need help most, to understand their medical conditions and instructions. You’ll be there to help nervous non-english speaking patients through difficult and joyous times, whether they are receiving news of a loved one’s accident, or preparing to welcome a new baby, your job will be to let them know what comes next.

Who Can Become a Medical Interpreter?

First and foremost, medical interpreters must be fluent in two languages, both written and verbal. Simple understanding is not enough. Medical terms are difficult in any language, and you cannot afford to make mistakes. If your written and verbal skills in two languages are very strong, that’s a great start.

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Who is best fit for a Certificate Course?

At MiTio, we offer two levels of certification. The 60 Hour Certificate Course is a continuing education single certification for medical professionals who want to switch to a new career or simply enhance their skills in their current career path. If you have been a bilingual medical professional for some time, or have been working as a medical interpreter for three years and want a refresher course to build on the knowledge you have earned, the singles certificate program is for you.


Since you already know medical language and procedures, the 60 Hour Certificate Course is designed to cover the finer points of the job, including standards of practice and ethics and codes of the medical interpreter.

Earning a certification is an important step in your career. Occasionally, people are hired for their skills without proper credentialing. No matter how good you are at your job, you need proper credentials to be in compliance with OCR regulations. Our 60 Hour Certificate Course will help ensure you’re on the right side of the law, and adds another marketable skill to your resume.

 

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MiTio’s 160 Hour Medical Interpreting Diploma Course

If you’re bilingual and have no medical training, our 160 Hour Medical Interpreting Diploma Course is the right choice for you. In this course, you’ll learn all the skills and knowledge you need to start a new career, including Medical Terminology, Anatomy and Physiology, and extensive training in healthcare field protocols, standards of practice, ethics, and medical coding.

 

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How long from the start of a course until the first paycheck?

Extensive programs such as these are recommended by the IMIA and are quickly becoming the norm for employers as well. From our experience at MiTio, the average student completes a 60 hour Medical Interpreter Certificate Course in 2-4 months, and the average student completes a 160 hour Medical Interpreter Diploma Course in 6-9 months since our programs are self paced and designed for the adult working professional in mind.


Thus, it depends on the student and the program, but on average six months to earn a paycheck is about right.

 

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How to obtain your certification?

Certification of Medical Interpreters was one of my crowning achievements. I am proud to have been both a part of the lead up to Certification as a Subject Matter Expert and project lead as well as post Certification, serving on the board of the NBCMI as its first Chairman.

 

Typical job requirements for being hired as a medical interpreter are simple and easy to attain if you are already bilingual and a high school (or equivalent) graduate. Here’s what you need:


        • Be at least 18 years old

        • Have at least a U.S. high school diploma (or GED) or its equivalent from another country

        • Complete a medical interpreting training

        • Possess written and verbal linguistic proficiency in English plus the primary language for which you are seeking certification.

Ready to get started? Pick your languages to learn more:

 

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Step 1: Submit Prerequisites for Evaluation


In order to be considered for the Certification Exam, you must first submit all of your prerequisites:


Registration

The non-refundable registration fee is $35, and it grants the candidate year to provide the necessary documentation and pass both written and oral exams. We encourage you to have your prerequisite documentation ready and upload them during the registration process. You may upload additional documents at a later time, if needed.


CMI Prerequisites:

 

1.) Minimum Age: 18 years - A driver’s license or a birth certificate or passport copy are acceptable proofs of age.

2.) General Education: Minimum education - High School Diploma or GED.

3.) Medical Interpreter Education: All candidates must submit proof of training specific to medical interpreting.

 You must submit either:

 a Certificate of Completion from a medical interpreter training course of at least 60 hours
 a transcript from a college or university where you took at least 3 credit hours of medical interpreting coursework.

Note: The interpreter training required for admission to the CMI program is training in medical interpreting. That requirement cannot be waived for anyone, regardless of how much other training and experience they have. Even doctors have the same prerequisite requirements as all other candidates.

 

4.) Oral proficiency in English:

One of the following:

 Bachelor, Masters, PhD, or any other degree from any US institution of higher education.
 Graduation from any high school, college, or university from an English language country or from an American School abroad.
 One of the following tests (subject to change):

 TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language): 570+ on paper; 230+ on computer version; 90+ on iBT.
 ELPT (English Language Proficiency Test): 950+
 MELAB (Michigan English Language Assessment Battery) 80+
 ECPE (Examination for the Certificate of Proficiency in English): PASS
 FCE (First Certificate in English, Level 3): A
 CAE (Certificate in Advanced English, Level 4): B
 CPE (Certificate of Proficiency in English, Level 5): B
 IELTS (International English Language Testing System) 7.0

5.) Oral proficiency in target language:

One of the following:

 Bachelor, Masters, PhD, or any other degree from an institution of higher education where the language you are testing for (Spanish, Russian, Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean or Vietnamese) is spoken
• Graduation from a high school of the country where the language you are testing for (Spanish, Russian, Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean or Vietnamese) is spoken
 24+ semester college credit hours of the language you are testing for (Spanish, Russian, Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean or Vietnamese)
ACTFL Oral Exams (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages): Advanced Mid Level - both the OPI (telephonic) and OPIc (computer recording) are acceptable.


To be granted the CMI credential, individuals must meet all of the eligibility prerequisites and pass BOTH the written and oral examinations. To pass the written exam, your percentage score must be at least 75%. To pass the oral exam, your percentage score must be as follows:


Language

Approximate Completion Time

Spanish

70% or higher

Russian

70% or higher

Cantonese

70% or higher

Mandarin

80% or higher

Korean

70% or higher

Vietnamese

65% or higher


The registration fee is non-refundable.


Fees Expiration and Refunds Policies: The program registration fee is non-refundable and is an annual fee, Your initial registration payment is good for one year of the program; after one year, if you have not yet completed the program and you want to take additional tests, you must pay a $35 re-registration fee to continue the program.


Once all of these documents are submitted along with your registration fee. Your documents are then evaluated by the committee and a decision is made either that more information is needed, that you are not eligible or that you have passed the initial evaluation and can now sit for the written exam after payment.


Some of the reasons why your application may not be approved after initial evaluation may be that your documents are not complete. For instance your proof of proficiency may not be sufficient.


If you took a test from one of the approved test givers such as LTI, you may not have scored high enough, usually an Advanced Mid or High is required.


Also, you may not have submitted credits from an accredited college in order to have those credits accepted. You also may not have submitted sufficient college credits, as 15 credits minimum in the language are required.


Lastly, you may not have submitted legible or translated diploma from the country where the diploma was conferred.


These are just a few of the variations that can cause your proof of proficiency to be questioned at best or outright rejected.


In addition to proof of proficiency, your application may be rejected for lack of documentation of age and or completion of a high school diploma.


Lastly, your application may be lacking a credible or legible documentation of completion of a medical Interpreting program.


Once your original or subsequent submissions have been approved and are cleared for the written exam, the payment and scheduling of the written exam must then take place.


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Step 2: Submit Prerequisites for Evaluation

The Written Exam covers the Interpreter Standards of Practice and the Interpreter Code of Ethics as well as Medical Terminology. The written exam may be taken at a test site or at home.


To take the Exam from home: The National Board has decided to offer online proctoring via ProctorU to accommodate candidates who live far from testing sites or need to schedule their exam in the evenings or on weekends. 

 

To take the written exam from the convenience of your own home or office with an online proctor, follow the instructions on this page.


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Written Exam Online Proctoring

You’ll need to complete the following steps in order to schedule your written exam on ProctorU:

 

1.) Determine whether the computer you’ll be using meets the system requirements.
2.) Register on ProctorU.
3.) Pay for your written exam.
4.) Schedule your exam with ProctorU.

1.) Perform a System Check

In order to take your written exam with an online proctor, your computer system must be compatible with BOTH the computerized exam system that delivers your written exam AND the online proctor application (Proctor U). The computer that you’ll be using needs to meet BOTH sets of system Requirements.


In order for your computer to work for the NBCMI computerized written exam, it MUST meet the following requirements:


 PC computer (the NBCMI exams DO NOT run on a Mac platform)
 Reliable internet connection
 Webcam
 Headset with a microphone
 Windows 7 or newer
 Firefox / Chrome

 

The written exam is accessed via the internet. Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome are the most stable web browsers for our exams. We recommend that you download the latest versions of Firefox and Chrome before your exam.


ProctorU has a system check to make sure that your computer meets the minimum requirements. You can access that here If you’re unable to pass the system check with ProctorU, please give them a call at 855-772-8678 to see how they can help you.

 

2.) Create Your ProctorU Account

If you are already registered on Proctor U, then you do not need to create a new account, you can use the same Proctor U account.

 

3.) Pay Your Exam Fee

The exam fee is $175. Once you are registered with ProctorU, you must pay for the exam. The exam fee is non-refundable.


*PLEASE NOTE: Do not pay for an online exam unless you are sure that you want to take the exam online and your computer system has passed the system check. If you pay for the exam via the link above, and then later change your mind and want to take the test in person at a testing center, you will be charged a $35 processing fee.

 

4.) Schedule Your Exam

After you have paid for your exam, go back to Proctor U and choose a date and time for your written exam. Please allow three business days between when you schedule and pay for the exam and the date you plan to take the exam, so that your payment can be processed.


In order for you to take your exam, you must have BOTH scheduled AND paid for the exam at least THREE BUSINESS DAYS before you expect to take the exam.


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Written Exam In-Person

If you choose to take the exam from a test site, follow these instructions:

 

1.) Take the exam at a testing site close to you.

2.) The written exam fee is $175 and is non-refundable. To pass the test, your percentage score must be at least 75%. In the event you do not pass the written exam, you will need to reschedule the exam and pay the full fee again.

If you want to take the exam at a testing center, your program advisor will assist you with scheduling your exam once you are approved for the program.

 

 Extensions: You have six months after the date you pass the written exam to schedule the oral exam. If for some reason (such as illness or death in the family) you need an extension, you must contact your program advisor (or email staff@certifiedmedicalinterpreters.org) before the six months have expired.

 Results: You will receive your written exam results right away. For online tests, only a percentage score will be available. To pass the test, your percentage score must be at least 75%.

 Retakes: The exam costs the same ($175) each time you take it. If you need to retake the exam, you must pay the full exam fee each time.

 Fees Expiration and Refunds Policies: The exam fees are non-refundable and an exam fee will expire after one year if the exam has not been taken. Login to the NBCMI website for test center information.

MiTio Inc prepares students for the written exam as it covers Standards of Practice, Interpreter Code of Ethics, and Medical Terminology.


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Step 3: Schedule and Take Oral Exam

In order to take the Oral Exam the Written exam must be passed with a score of 75% or higher. Once you have received notification of passing the written exam you may schedule to Oral Exam.


Like the written exam you may take it from Home or via Test site. To take the exam from home, follow these steps:


Oral examinations are available in the following languages: Spanish, Russian, Cantonese, Mandarin, Vietnamese, and Korean. If you have passed the NBCMI written exam and interpret for a language other than the six languages listed above, you will be informed if an oral exam in your language becomes available.


The National Board has decided to offer online proctoring via ProctorU to accommodate candidates who live far from testing sites or need to schedule their exam in the evenings or on weekends.


To take the oral exam from the convenience of your own home or office with an online proctor, follow the instructions on this page. If you would prefer to take the exam at a testing center.

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Oral Exam Online Proctoring

You’ll need to complete the following steps in order to schedule your oral exam on ProctorU:

1.) Determine whether the computer you’ll be using meets the system requirements.
2.) Watch an instructional video about how the oral exam works.
3.) Take the practice test using the same computer you plan to use for your exam.
4.) Register on ProctorU.
5.) Pay for your oral exam.
6.) Schedule your exam with ProctorU.

Perform a System Check

In order to take your oral exam with an online proctor, your computer system must be compatible with BOTH the computerized exam system that delivers your oral exam AND the online proctor application (Proctor U). The computer that you’ll be using needs to meet BOTH sets of system requirements.


In order for your computer to work for the NBCMI computerized oral interpreting exam, it MUST meet the following requirements:

 PC computer (the NBCMI oral exam WILL NOT run on a Mac platform)
 Reliable internet connection
 Webcam
 Headset with a microphone (Ear buds or internal computer mic do NOT work! It must be an actual headset!)
 Windows 7 or newer
 Firefox / Chrome

The oral exam is accessed via the internet. Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome are the most stable web browsers for our exams. We recommend that you download the latest versions of Firefox and Chrome before your exam.


Proctor U has a system check to make sure that your computer

meets the minimum requirements. In order for your computer to work for the online proctoring application, Proctor U, it MUST ALSO pass the Proctor U system check.


If you’re unable to pass the system check with ProctorU, please give them a call at 855-772-8678 to see how they can help you.


Please note: although the Proctor U application is compatible with a

Mac computer, the NBCMI oral exam is not! Your computer system must meet the system requirements on this page AND be able to pass the Proctor U system check.


If you have a Mac computer, it might pass the Proctor U system check, but it will not work for the oral exam.


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Oral Exam In-Person

You’ll need to complete the following steps in order to schedule your oral exam at a testing center:

 

1.) Choose a testing center from the list below.
2.) Watch an instructional video.
3.) Take the practice test.
4.) Schedule your exam.


1.) Choose a Testing Center

Choose a location from the following list of testing centers:

Akron, Ohio
Anchorage, Alaska
Atlanta, Georgia
Birmingham, Alabama
Boston, Massachusetts
Charlotte, North Carolina
Chillicothe, Ohio
Clearwater, Florida (Tampa Bay)
Denver, Colorado
Fond du Lac, Wisconsin
Honolulu, Hawaii
Houston, Texas
Indianapolis, Indiana
Lamar, Colorado
Los Angeles, California
Memphis, Tennessee
Millbrae, California (near San Francisco)
Nashville, Tennessee
Omaha, Nebraska
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Phoenix, Arizona
Portland, Oregon
Richmond, Virginia
Savannah, Georgia
Springfield, Massachusetts
St. Louis, Missouri
Syracuse, New York
Tempe, Arizona
Toronto, Ontario, CANADA
Tukwila, Washington (near Seattle)
Tulsa, Oklahoma

When additional testing sites become available, they will be added to this list.


Please note: A few locations have been set aside for onsite testing of staff interpreters. These locations may not be on the above list. Please email to inform the National Board if you intend to take the oral exam in your health care facility.

 

2.) Take the Practice Test

The National Board recently made a practice test in order for candidates to become more familiar and comfortable navigating through our oral exam.


Successfully taking the practice test also ensures that you won’t experience any technical difficulties on the day of your scheduled online proctored oral exam.


Once you complete the system check and can record and playback your own voice, you can proceed with the practice test.


The practice test is only to help candidates with test navigation. It

won’t help you to prepare for actual interpreting in a medical context.


The role play scenarios on the practice test are not necessarily consistent with the types of role play scenarios on the actual oral exam.


To take the practice test, go to the testing site:

http://hosted.owlts.com/ and log in using the following username and

Password:


username: practicetest

password: practicetest


Please remember that it is your responsibility to know how to navigate through the oral exam, including how and when to record your renditions and request repetitions. If you fail to correctly navigate through the oral exam your score will be negatively Impacted.


If you’re unable to access the practice test despite your best efforts, then taking an online proctored exam won’t be an option for you. Please contact the National Board to begin the process of scheduling your oral exam at a test site near you. Login to NBCMI website for test locations.

 

3.) Create Your ProctorU Account

If you were able to complete the system check and the practice test, you can take your exam using ProctorU. If you are already registered on ProctorU (for example, if you took your written exam on Proctor U), then you do not need to create a new account, you can use the same Proctor U Account.

 

4.) Pay Your Exam Fee

The exam fee is $275. Once you are registered with ProctorU, you then pay for the exam. The exam fee is non-refundable.

 

5.) Schedule Your Exam

After you have paid for your exam, go back to Proctor U and choose a date and time for your oral exam. Please allow three business days between when you schedule and pay for the exam and the date you plan to take the exam, so that your payment can be processed. In order for you to take your exam, you must have BOTH scheduled AND paid for the exam at least THREE BUSINESS DAYS before you expect to take the exam.


Extensions: You have six months after the date you pass the written exam to schedule the oral exam. If for some reason (such as illness or death in the family) you need an extension, you must contact your program advisor (or email staff@certifiedmedicalinterpreters.org) after the six months have expired.


Results: You will be notified of test results by email within 8-10 Weeks.


Retakes: The exam costs the same ($275) each time you take it. If you need to retake the exam, you must pay the full exam fee each time.


Fees Expiration and Refunds Policies: The exam fees are non-refundable and an exam fee will expire after one year if the exam has not been taken.


MiTio Inc prepares students for the Oral exam by providing weekly live Skype sessions as training for both the Oral exam and the actual interpreting sessions with Health Professional and Patient.


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Step 4: Medical Interpreter Recertification

The National Board requires recertification every 5 years to promote professional development for Certified Medical Interpreters.


The recertification requirements have been developed to promote maintenance of the skills and knowledge required for competent medical interpretation and to provide an opportunity for interpreters to strengthen and expand their knowledge and skills.


To achieve this purpose continuing education units are only accepted for training directly related to medical interpretation.


In order to maintain your credential you must:

Recertify every 5 years by participating in education directly related to medical interpretation.

 

 Complete 3 CEUs (Continuing Education Units), equivalent to 30 contact hours of approved training before the credential's expiration date (5 years from initial CMI date of certification). Each CEU is equal to 10 contact hours of training by most organizations.

 MiTio Inc offers 10 distinct 40 hour - Continuing Education Courses to get all the neccesary Units in a single course.

 Pay the $300 recertification fee.
 Payments and CEUs will be accepted within one year of the expiration date. They are due within 45 days of the expiration date.

Individuals who fulfill these requirements will not need to retake the medical certification exams to maintain their CMI credential (see Failure to Recertify section below).


Acceptable Continuing Education

The National Board accepts continuing education units (CEU) for courses and workshops approved by the International Medical Interpreters Association (IMIA), the Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters (CCHI), the American Translators Association (ATA) and the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID).


ATA and RID CEUs must be for workshops, conferences, and events that are related to medical interpreting knowledge and skills enhancement.


Please apply to these entities for CEU information and credits. Certificants are strongly encouraged to earn CEUs throughout the 5 year period.


The International Medical Interpreters Association (IMIA) offers the Learning Series, an excellent set of monthly webinars to help individuals acquire or improve skills in medical interpreting, and obtain continued education units (CEUs).


These webinars are the easiest, and most cost-effective way of obtaining the 3.0 CEU units needed for re-certification (due every 5 years), and an excellent way of staying on top of new trends, ethical issues, standards of practice, and legal matters affecting our profession, and networking with other CMIs around the world.


Submit Payment and CEUs for Recertification

You can upload your CEUs certificates on your profile as you earn them to ensure you do not lose them and have them ready for recertification.


After you make your payment, the National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters will review your CEUs and contact you with information on your certification status. Please allow 5 - 10 business days for review.


Failure to Recertify

Credentialed interpreters who do not comply with the recertification requirements before the established deadline every fifth year will lose their credential(s) and will be removed from the registry of CMIs.


To regain certification, lapsed individuals must re-apply for certification, meet the prerequisite requirements in effect at the time and pass the examination requirements.


 

-Click here to go to the third part of this series-

How To Become a Medical Interpreter: The Ultimate Guide Part 3

 

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Topics: Medical Interpreter, Medical Interpreting, education