Medical Interpreter Job Profile

Medical interpreters (MI) are the people who act as both translator and an interpreter. They act as a bridge between the . The patients have limited English knowledge and they help the hospital staff communicate with them.


  • They are present with such patients during an examination by the physician or nurse.
  • Translate questions from the physician to the patient to grasp an overview of the ailments and complaints.
  • They help the physician by obtaining medical histories and previous medical procedures undergone by the patient.
  • They help patients to explain the cardinal medical terms and schedule that needs to be followed correctly.
  • They assist the physician and update medical records and informing the medical staff of anything that is peculiar.
  • Explain hospital policies and procedures to the patients to avoid any mis-communication or misinterpretation.
  • Helps to successfully provide efficient medical services and convey information to language deficient patients in a cordial and professional manner.
  • Serve as a cultural and linguistic resource to both patients and health facility providers.
  • Understands the hospital customer care policies and adheres to them strictly.
  • Helps in office administration work like answering phones, calling patients to inform them about appointments, document patient checkups, data entry, verification, scheduling of future appointments and so on.
  • Ensures the confidentiality of the medical history of the patients.

Work Places

Medical interpreters can find their opportunities in hospitals, medical clinics and with interpreter agencies. They can also work in conferences and court rooms. Generally their working conditions are hectic with often changing priorities. It is physically draining job since it requires long hours of walking and standing. MIs should be emotionally stable and mature since they will have to handle highly stressful and powerful situations.

Duration of Work

The work duration varies from interpreter to interpreter since MIs can be self-employed or on a contractual basis. But most of them work for 40 hours a week, from Monday to Friday. The growth in full-time MI vacancies might develop based on the future demand for MIs due to the growing multilingual and multi-cultural populous in the country.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) from 2006, MIs are paid on an hourly basis and the rate can range from $9.88 to $30.91 per hour. Hence, if a MI works full-time, their annual income can be a little above $60,000. But the average income of a MI is about $38000 annually.

Career Development

After obtaining credible and worthwhile experience as a MI, you can start working as a medical translator. Because all cities are becoming multi-lingual, the demand for MIs is impressive whereas the number of trained professional MIs is very limited. Even more appealing is the information provided by the BLS that states the demand for such MIs is going to rise 24% to 2016. MIs are more valuable to the physicians as their patient circle can be widened and they can also avoid risks involved in the treatment of patients with limited English knowledge.

If you know at least two languages, and feel happy to work in a hospital environment, then being a medical interpreter is the right choice for you.