How to Become Certified for Medical Translation Jobs

June 23, 2022

Medical translation is one of the most difficult forms of translation services because of its high degree of complexity. This is the reason why being proficient in a language pair isn’t enough for medical translators or interpreters. 

Besides ongoing training and years of experience, what else might this career require? Let’s take a closer look at some tips below if you want to become a medical linguist.

Is Medical Translation Different from Medical Interpretation?

Most language experts in the medical field manage medical data and classify documents that have a direct effect on people’s health. Therefore, both medical translation and interpretation require linguists to have high qualifications and distinctive skills. However, these two professions are extremely different as they involve operating in different environments with special tools.

What is Medical Translation

Medical translation requires absolute accuracy for the medical written documents, whether they are patient case reports, product information booklets, or packaging information for the pharmaceutical business.

Medical translators need to have a background in medicine and translation fluency. 

Their common clients are pharmaceutical businesses, healthcare executives, medical equipment makers, and clinical research groups (CROs). Customers will highly look forward to error-free documents and confidential information from medical translators.

What is Medical Interpretation

Working as a medical interpreter, they barely have to handle the documents. Their main responsibility is to support patients communicate with healthcare practitioners across languages without cultural barriers. They are equivalent to mediators that help patients communicate with their doctors when they speak different languages.

Medical interpretation requires thorough medical terminology knowledge in both the source and target languages. To grasp what the patient is saying then transfer it correctly to the doctors, a medical translator must understand the body language and medical terminology. Medical interpretation services are available on-site, over the phone, and via video conferencing. 

What Does it Take to Be A Medical Translator?

If you want to become a qualified medical translator, you should start from the basics.

Medical Knowledge

You will possess technical skills to work as a medical translator, and a background in medical-related to the subject you’re translating. A medical translator should also be well-known for the country’s regulations they are working in. In most nations, strict laws govern the approval of medicines and medical treatments. Any mistake might cause delays for your customer.

Thousands of medical phrases are used in the medical sector, yet they are rarely interchangeable. To make your job easier, you should have access to quality resources and precise glossaries of terminology.

Translation Skills

Since a medical translator has to spend time to read through the sources, study the information, and then generate a translated document, you must be able to communicate in at least two languages, and an extensive understanding of medical jargon is extremely essential. 

Especially, you must include various levels of control in your translated material about this field. It is vital to proofread your translation numerous times before giving it to the customer.


The certifications have certain values for medical translators. These qualifications confirm the comprehensive knowledge of medical terminology and an in-depth understanding of usage, which is the key for those who want to become a translator.

So, a medical translator must have at least a high school graduation, or even more a Bachelor’s Degree in translation or the Medical field. If you have a degree or have finished a medical assistant program, it might be extremely helpful. 

Moreover, before working as a medical translation, you need a certification from the National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters (CMI) to prove your proficiency.


There are so many clinical trials being undertaken across countries, there is a constant demand for translation services. When looking for a medical document translation service to help with clinical trial translation, the clients might prefer the one that has a lot of experience with international standards and laws.

Therefore, one important thing is you must have working experience in the medical industry. However, it is not a big problem as you can upgrade your skills by self-study and easily start with some small-scale medical translation projects.

How to Improve Your Chance of Getting Medical Translation Jobs?

To get more job opportunities, there are a few things you can do to expand your knowledge.

Invest in Medical Books and Journals

One of the most effective ways to improve your medical knowledge is by reading medical books and journals. Besides, it is also essential to spend time with decent medical dictionaries and medical translation literature in your target languages.

Reading up on your picked subject of translation can build your confidence in your ability to work as a medical translator. What’s more, you should keep your medical knowledge updated on a regular basis by reading constantly, so a comprehensive glossary is necessary. 

Take Courses

There are a variety of free online courses available for persons with a non-medical background. The program can assist medical translators to improve subject-matter comprehension and medical terminology. 

You can sign up and view the course materials if you missed the start date, but the course is still running. You can find several informative medical programs of leading universities on CourseraEdX, and FuruteLearn.

Get More Experience 

Finding a profession as a medical translator in a reputable healthcare organization might be difficult for beginners. For this position, experience is a must-have. It’s a good idea for newcomers to start with simple tasks like translating product information or summarizing product characteristics. When you achieve more experience with the language, you may be able to translate much more complicated documents. Of course, being a volunteer for a non-profit organization is an effective way to upgrade your level. These experiences will give you real-world experience, refer to more experience in your CV, and you also can ask for testimonials from the clients after each assignment.

Wrap Up

Becoming an expert in medical translation might sound not easy to newbies, but once preparing thoroughly for the requirements we have mentioned above, you are fully capable of achieving this career with passion and determination.


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