Online Spanish Medical Interpreter Certification

Foreign language interpreters help patients who lack fluency in English access necessary medical services. Spanish medical interpreters do not need a specific degree or certification. A few voluntary training programs can be completed partially online.

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Essential Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), many interpreters hold a bachelor's degree, but the most important qualification for Spanish/English interpreters is fluency in both English and Spanish. Spanish medical interpreter programs are often offered at the certificate level, and are typically on-campus programs that may require an internship. Hybrid programs that allow some coursework to be completed online are available, but relatively rare. Some programs require a test of fluency for admission.

Professional certification for interpreters is voluntary, but can help demonstrate fluency. If you plan to seek certification, check on any educational requirements for the certification you wish to pursue.


Online Spanish Medical Interpreter Training Program Overview

Spanish medical interpreters have a variety of duties. They may be involved in face-to-face translations between patients and doctors, or may work with clients over the telephone. Hospitals and medical facilities may have written material like brochures, letters or websites that they need to be translated from English to Spanish. Medical translators must be familiar with medical terminology.

Employers determine an interpreter's competency through their own tests, interviews and hiring processes. Although there are many options for on-campus Spanish medical interpreter training, online options are rare. However, there are a few programs with classes that can be completed online.

Program Information and Requirements

Foreign language medical interpreter training teaches students advanced medical terminology, but is not intended to teach proficiency in a foreign language. Students must already be fluent in Spanish and English. Training programs are meant to educate both students with translating experience and those who are new to the field. Some schools offer individual classes that can be taken as necessary for specialized employment.

High-speed Internet access is recommended. Students may need to access audio and visual information both on their computer and in DVD format. Some classes may have software that a student must download. A microphone may be necessary to record speech, pronunciation and translation exercises.

List of Common Medical Interpreting Courses

Training programs for medical interpreters are often one or two courses that focus on a variety of topics. Classes offered online do not require face-to-face education, often focusing on topics like medical terminology and glossaries. Frequently discussed topics in online or on-campus training include simultaneous interpreting and assessing bilingual aptitude.

Medical Terminology

In the terminology course, students learn words commonly used by health care professionals. Students will learn terminology related to anatomy and physiology, pathology, pharmacology and more. This class is not only useful for translators but also for other basic medical support staff such as billing specialists and administrative support.

Continuing Education Information

Some employers prefer their employees to have at least a bachelor's degree. Students who wish to expand their interpreting abilities can pursue certifications and undergraduate and graduate degrees in general Spanish or in Spanish to English translation. Due to the necessity of practicing with actual people, it is difficult to find translation degree programs or certification processes that will be offered completely online.

Career Information

Hospitals, emergency departments, clinics, physicians' offices and other healthcare facilities employ Spanish medical interpreters. According to the BLS (www.bls.gov), interpreters and translators earned a median annual salary of $45,430 as of May 2012. The BLS projected job growth of 42%, much faster than the average for all occupations, for interpreters and translators from 2010-2020.

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