Medical Interpreter

Help Doctors and patients communicate across language barriers.

Quick Stats


Salary Range
$23,000 – $86,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Medical Interpreters do?

A Medical Interpreter fills the language gaps between Doctors and patients by translating their spoken words. That way, they can have fruitful Doctor-patient conversations, even when they don’t speak the same language.

If you’ve ever heard Doctors speak, you’ve probably marveled at the way words like “ablation,” “idiopathic,” “myocardial,” and “stenosis” roll off their tongue. Just because they can say the words, however, doesn’t mean their patients can understand them, as medical jargon often sounds like a foreign language. Imagine, then, how difficult it is to understand when it is, in fact, a foreign language — for instance, when Spanish-speaking patients are treated by English-speaking Doctors. That’s where the Medical Interpreter comes in.

As a Medical Interpreter, you’re employed by hospitals, clinics, and private practices. An Interpreter who’s been trained in medical vocabulary, you’re uniquely capable of explaining to patients in their native tongue what their diagnosis is, what their treatment options are, and what medications they’re being prescribed. Similarly, you’re capable of explaining to the Physician the patient’s medical history, symptoms, and concerns.

Because you work alongside Physicians and Nurses in exam rooms, you’re often a trained Medical Assistant, too. That means you sometimes take patients’ vital signs, update their medical records, and perform other minor duties as necessary. Primarily, though, your job is communication — and also advocacy, as your position empowers you to represent the interests of underserved communities by being their voice, literally speaking on their behalf in medical and sometimes even political situations in order to make sure their language doesn’t prevent them from accessing high-quality health care.

Should I be a Medical Interpreter?

You should have a bachelor's degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Detail Oriented: You pay close attention to all the little details.
  • Reliable: You can always be counted on to do a good job.
  • Levelheaded: You hold your emotions in check, even in tough situations.

  • Also known as: Medical Translator

    How to become a Medical Interpreter

    Most Medical Interpreters have a Bachelor's degree. Chart?chd=s:yo19cx&chl=no+college+%2812%25%29|certificate+%287%25%29|associate%27s+%2826%25%29|bachelor%27s+%2830%25%29|master%27s+%281%25%29|doctorate+%2824%25%29&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,12,30
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