getting into medical translation and/or interpreting
Thread poster: Trudi Richards
Trudi Richards
Spanish to English
May 2, 2005


I’m new to this community and this career – although I have years of experience translating as a volunteer (Spanish to English, general subjects and humanities, personal and social change). I’m not counting on making lots of money – but I do need to supplement my husband’s retirement income, and I chose translating because I really enjoy it. (I’m also a published writer with desktop publishing and design capabilities - I don’t want to try making my living at that, but perhaps those skills will come in handy…)

Here are my questions:

1. I’m very interested in healthcare, but have no medical/science background – would I have a chance of breaking into translation in that field if I took a course (or courses) on medical terminology?

2. I’ve heard there’s a great need for medical interpreters in California, where we live. My husband is a native speaker of Spanish, and we were thinking of becoming an interpreting team, combining his ease with understanding Spanish (I understand, but he certainly has greater fluency), with my fluency in English. Is this an accepted form – the team idea, I mean? What kind of training could we undergo? We both really like the idea of helping people in this situation…

3. If I just specialize in my current areas of expertise, which are travel, education, arts and personal growth, do I have any chance of getting a reasonable amount of work?

4. Do I need to invest in Trados, or will Wordfast do for starters?

Any feedback would be very much appreciated!


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Catherine Bolton  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:24
Member (2002)
Italian to English
+ ...
Just a couple of comments! May 2, 2005

I can't offer any pointers about the team idea, but it certainly sounds feasible!
As to medical translations, I do them (Italian>English) but am not a physician. I started doing them because a neurologist friend needed a translation done for publication, and I was already working as a translator anyway. He gave me journals on the subject, and I read through those (gives you plenty of insight into the type of language and style) and went from there into other areas of medicine. Times have changed since then (early 90's) and the resources available on the Internet are simply astonishing. Wish I'd had those back then! The most important thing is a strong INTEREST in the subject - coupled with good writing skills, of course!
As to the Trados / Wordfas query, I've been a delighted WF user for about 4 years and wouldn't switch for anything in the world!

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shfranke  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:24
English to Arabic
+ ...
Join SF regional chapter of CHIA and CTIA May 2, 2005


For starters, you might join these professional associations:

(1) SF/Bay regional chater of CA Healthcare Interpreters Association (CHIA); website at < >


(2) NCTIA (might be NCTA)... This is the regional affiliate of ATA.

For the correct hyperlink, go to < > and check the hyperlink on the left side of that homepage for the section on ATA's national chapters & affiliates.

HTH. Good luck.


Stephen H. Franke
(English Arabic,
Kurdish and Farsi)
Healthcare Linguist and Patient Liaison
San Pedro, CA (Los Angeles Harbor Area)

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