What it takes to be a medical translator
Thread poster: ad_alta89

ad_alta89  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:37
French to English
+ ...
Sep 12, 2013

I am currently trying to break into paid translation, and even though I'll focus on simpler/less technical/less specialized projects until I have more experience, I'm very attracted to the idea of specializing in medical translation.

For those of you who are already specialized in this area, how did you break in? What sort of credentials/experience do you have?

I'm just trying to figure out if this will be a feasible option for me given my background, which is:

- BA in French (about 9 years experience with the language, near fluent)
- About 5 years experience with Spanish (only semi-fluent but with near fluent reading comp)
- Trained and worked in the medical field for about 1.5 years (medical assisting, nursing assisting, phlebotomy and some very basic lab work)
- Translating sporadically on a volunteer basis for about 4 years

Obviously this isn't a lot and I know it will take a lot of work to get me to the point that I'm translating highly technical medical documents, but what I want to know is whether or not this is a good starting point for someone my age (23), or whether I'm setting my sights too high.

I haven't spent a lot of time in my source language countries, (~5 months in France, ~2 months in Mexico); what I do is read and immerse constantly in both languages. Is this a feasible way to get my fluency to the necessary level? In my community there are lots of opportunities to interact with native Spanish speakers and I'm going to take advantage of that, but there are almost no French speakers.

Any comments/suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated!


Liviu-Lee Roth
United States
Local time: 22:37
Romanian to English
+ ...
would you consider Sep 12, 2013

becoming a medical interpreter?

Check with local agencies that cater to hospitals, do the mandatory 40 hrs of "Bridging the Gap" and .... Good Luck !



nrichy (X)
Local time: 04:38
French to Dutch
+ ...
Studies in medecine or pharma Sep 13, 2013

I once worked inhouse in a pharmaceutical laboratory. They had an excellent into English translator, but with a litterary background. They sent him back to university for two years, all costs paid, because it took them too much time to make corrections in basic medical vocabulary and knowledge.


Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:38
Italian to English
Existing threads Sep 13, 2013

There are various threads on this topic already, have you tried searching the forums?

This one may be of use:

Difficult but not impossible, and don't let your age put you officon_smile.gif


Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:38
English to Polish
+ ...
Medical studies Oct 1, 2013

... Just like in law. Plus, style. As in, be able to write like a doc, not only in terms of bad handwriting. Should probably know Latin and perhaps even a smidge of Greek.


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