Medical Interpreting Rates
Thread poster: Cris Mazzei

Cris Mazzei
United States
Local time: 09:36
English to Portuguese
Apr 10, 2006

Is it my impression or the rates for medical interpreting in the US are extremely low?


Kevin Kelly  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:36
Member (2005)
Russian to English
+ ...
IMO they are VERY low Apr 10, 2006

About 3-4 years ago, when I was working as a freelance interpreter at $500/day (and working 140-150 days a year) I decided I needed less travel, more job security, benefits, etc.

I applied for a staff medical interpreting job at a major medical center in St. Louis, Missouri. They offered me $12.00 per hour (!). This was slightly more than the janitors were making.

I declined the job.



United States
Local time: 06:36
English to Arabic
+ ...
Some observations Apr 10, 2006


This note refers to as-needed / on-call engagements as a freelance interpreter (not as a full-time employee, such as are found in the language services division at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles).

The compensation depends pretty much on two salient factors:

(1) the client's budget


(2) the client's awareness and appreciation of significant liabilities if the hospital uses a very-low-paid and unqualified interpreter to support delivery of medical care, which includes informing a patient (and family) of indicated care, definitive treatment and especially a surgical pr transplant procedure.

You might also post this good question on the website of CHIA (California Healthcare Interpreters' Association) at [ ].

Establishing compensation for full-time employment as a hospital's staff interpreter is usually a matter of negotiation with the HR department.

Hope this helps.


Stephen H. Franke
Member, CHIA Los Angeles Chapter
English Arabic, Kurdish and Persian
San Pedro, California


José Luis Villanueva-Senchuk (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:36
English to Spanish
+ ...
Medical conference interpreter or medical interpreter? Apr 19, 2006


It seems to me that there is a huge difference between medical conference interpreting and "just" medical interpreting.

How many conferences in the US, in EN to/from ES, PT, FR, IT or DE pairs are offered with SI? The culture of conference simultaneous interpreting is not that common. I do not see that many medical congresses or large conferences in the US offering SI with pro conference interpreters.

Medical interpreting in an ER is one thing. Medical interpreting in a simultaneous mode for 800 people in a plenary lecture at a medical conference is another thing.



[Edited at 2006-04-19 10:56]


Parrot  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:36
Spanish to English
+ ...
'Just'? Apr 20, 2006

José Luis Villanueva-Senchuk wrote:

It seems to me that there is a huge difference between medical conference interpreting and "just" medical interpreting.

I walked out of a liaison job (along with the speaker, an engineer) when they asked him to demonstrate a laser on a live patient in one of those private plastic surgery outfits. He said something to the effect that 'I'm only here to talk about calibrating lasers'. When I was asked why the show had stopped, I said, 'he has no license to practise medicine and my agency has no civil liability insurance to cover operating rooms'.

The client was the clinic, and they had asked the agency to send an interpreter for an engineer. Not, I repeat, NOT a doctor. You mean I could've really put my foot in -- for peanuts -- and no one would care?


José Luis Villanueva-Senchuk (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:36
English to Spanish
+ ...
Hola, Ceci Apr 21, 2006

What I meant to say was just as in liason/consecutive type in ER or medical office, not in a booth.

Our colleague in the RU pair posts a personal example in a language that pays well in the US and a language that I think is not used much much of the ER, hospital, healthcare facilities though the US.

Non-conference interpreting in the medical field, in particular for hospital settings is not well paid in the US, UK and France.



Dyran Altenburg (X)  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:36
English to Spanish
+ ...
Depends on who hires you Apr 21, 2006

This is what I get paid through agencies when the end client is an insurance company:
US$50/hour, minimum two hours, plus mileage/per diem if applicable.



Terry Thatcher Waltz, Ph.D.  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:36
Chinese to English
+ ...
I charge for CI May 9, 2006

I charge the same as I charge for normal CI assignments -- and that carries a half-day minimum. If you figure it out, usually the time you're out of your office totals up to about half a day (no kidding) by the time you wait for the doctor, help with the paperwork, etc. etc. ad nauseum. Also, IMHO there is considerably more responsibility involved in medical work even if it is "just" liaison. Some clients don't come back (but then again there are not so many Chinese interpreters in upstate NY icon_wink.gif ) but most do.


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