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Medical Translator Jobs

Medical translators are language communication specialists who convert medical-related materials from one language to another.

Rather than literally translating every word, translators must ensure that concepts and ideas are properly translated between languages. Full fluency in at least two languages is required to become a translator.

Job Description: A Day in the Life of a Medical Translator

Although some medical translators work for hospitals or government agencies, many are self-employed and work from home. Most translators work in a computer using special translation software to speed up the process. Assignments are generally received and submitted electronically. Medical translators may translate a variety of documents including records from hospitals and other medical facilities and patient medical histories.

When a translator first receives a text for translation, he or she usually begins by reading the entire text to get a general idea of the content. As they translate, they must look up any unknown words; this is especially important in medical translation where complex medical terms may appear. Accurate translations are essential in the medical field. The mistranslation of a patient's allergy histories in a medical record could lead to a fatal situation. For this reason, it is important for medical translators to reread and edit their work.

General Requirements and Training

A good medical translator must have excellent writing, editing and communication skills. The most important requirement to become a medical interpreter or translator is fluency in at least two languages. In addition to basic language and computer skills, a bachelor's degree is often required to become a medical translator, ideally in a medical-related field. Many students go on to earn certificates or degrees in formal translation programs. A translation degree greatly improves job opportunities. In the field of medical translation, most employers also prefer certified translators. There are a variety of tests translators can take to gain certification, the most prominent being a written exam offered by the American Translators Association.

Salary, Benefits, and Opportunities for Advancement

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for translators and interpreters as a whole is $38,850 as of May 2008.

The mean wage for translators and interpreters employed by general medical and surgical hospitals is $42,400.

Payscale.com reports that a translator with one to four years of experience earns an average of $11.75 to $24.76 per hour, while a translator with twenty of more years of experience earns an average of $24.30 to $44.84 hourly. According to Salary.com a translator earns an average salary of $38,380 to $52,078 per year.