salary for a medical interpreter

How Much Does a Medical Interpreter Get Paid?

If you speak multiple languages, you may want to put it to good use by becoming a medical interpreter.  Today, medical interpreting is gaining more and more recognition in the US for its role in bridging language gaps between patients and caregivers in healthcare settings. But having a positive impact on other people’s lives is not the only perk of being in medical interpreting. Job security is also a big perk.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of translation jobs in all industries is projected to increase by 42% from 2010 to 2020. The employment of interpreters and translators is also expected to grow 18% from 2016 to 2026. The rate is much faster than the 7% average for all occupations overall! Read on to find out more about what you can expect to earn after graduating from medical interpreting training.

Salaries for a Medical Interpreter are on the Upswing

Medical interpreters can either be paid a standard salary or work on an hourly rate like other professionals who offer interpreting services or translation services. Their hours can be flexible, depending on if they work full time, part time, per diem or on an on-call basis. They can be stationed at the medical facility or work remotely through the phone.

Per PayScale, as of June 2018, the average pay for a medical interpreter is $19.89 per hour. Depending on their area of expertise and languages they specialize in, they could earn up to $30.74 per hour, and $44.41 for per hour for overtime.  In May 2017, the highest 10% of interpreters and translators earned more than $82,290 annually.  In March 29, 2018, the median annual medical interpreter salary in the US is $43,261, with a range usually between $38,064-$47,430 (depending on a variety of factors).

Again, according to PayScale, an entry-level certified medical interpreter with less than 5 years of experience can earn an average of $40,000. Those with 5 – 10 years of experience earn an average of $43,000.  With 10 – 20 years, they can earn $47,000. A Medical interpreter with late-career experience earn $52,000. This positive trend of medical interpreter compensation comes as no surprise. Ongoing migration and globalization increase the need for better living and working conditions. Likewise, the rapid aging of the world’s population and constant presence of chronic diseases require hospitals to expand their staff. Experienced professionals who can provide Chinese interpreting, Spanish interpreting, German interpreting, etc.  help meet these demands.

 Medical Interpreter

Factors Determining a Medical Interpreter Certificate Grad’s Salary

Salaries for medical interpreters and medical translators depend on 6 factors: the language(s) they speak, their skillfulness, their experience, their education, the type of employer, and the certification of the interpreter.

Demand is strong for interpreters of frequently translated languages like French, German, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. Equally in demand are speakers of Arabic and other Middle Eastern languages, as well as principal Asian languages like Chinese, Japanese, Hindi, and Korean.  Medical interpreters of indigenous languages from Mexico and Central America such as Mixtec, Zapotec, and Mayan languages also receive higher pay because they’re so rare and thus so in demand.

The last important factor to consider is where interpreters work. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of 2018, living in Maine, New Jersey and Virginia, means you’ll earn higher than the average for all interpreting fields. Hospital translators in Washington, DC earn an annual mean wage of $92,420.  Meanwhile, those that live in metropolitan areas in Maryland earn $79,510.

How to Start a Career as a Medical Interpreter

 So if these salary figures interest you, what can you do to become a medical interpreter?  It’s not just about being bilingual or multilingual.  Professional medical interpreters must build a mastery of basic medical terms in multiple languages.  They must also be able to provide quick, accurate consecutive interpreting.  Lastly, the ability to maintain discretion and neutrality for the patients they serve is key.

There are also additional steps interpreters can take to be more successful. Most interpreters have a BA or BS degree, if not a graduate degree.  Additionally, most of the time, they’ve gone through a medical interpreter course.  Medical interpreter training demonstrates professional competence to employers. One step you can take to make yourself even more marketable is by volunteering in a clinic or hospital.  This can provide the hands-on, practical experiences many employers seek for. This experience helps build a strong reputation and allows interpreters to advance to more intricate and challenging work.


About Language Connections:

Language Connections is a language service provider.  We specialize in technical, medical and legal translation, simultaneous and consecutive interpreting, website and software localization, and corporate language programs and interpreter training. We provide certified, professional translation in 100+ languages including SpanishPortugueseArabicChinese, Russian, German, and French. With over 20 years of experience, we have expertise in all major industries including the life sciences, patent and immigration law, international business, global education, and advanced technology. We offer cost-efficient interpreting and conference solutions that will meet your multilingual needs for all types of international events – business meetings, conferences, lectures or presentations.

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