Medical Interpreter Salary & Hourly Pay

The question of what is average medical interpreter salary is interesting and multifaceted. Generally speaking, medical interpreting is a rather broad term referring to any interpreting activity in healthcare and related fields such as social services. So, language specialists within this sector work within variety of settings. They do their job at hospitals, mental care centers, rehabilitation facilities, offices, medical conferences, social service agencies, etc. Similarly, salary range within this field is very wide. It depends on several parameters, medical interpreters can get paid differently.

Career Path for Medical Interpreters

An important preliminary stage in pursuing medical interpreting career is selecting language pair to work with. It can often be a decisive factor in constituting medical interpreter pay because it determines demand for one’s services at the job market. For example, you have learned a very rare or complicated language, have mastered translating it to English, or vice versa.

Although your proposition in labor market may be unique, it is likely that you will not have any job at all. That is why it is necessary to keep a wise balance between linguistic variety in the place where one wishes to pursue their career and personal preferences. For instance, there is a big ethnic group of Hispanics in the US. So, here Spanish medical interpreter salary is expected to be high enough and proportional to the demand. Moreover, one should check beforehand if there are any certification programs for chosen language pairs, as their amount is rather limited.

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Opportunities in Healthcare Field

Because of various career opportunities in medical translating, there are multiple ways to develop in this field. Many believe that jobs within this specialty take place in clinical setting only, but they are also needed at conferences and organizations such as WHO. Good prerequisite is being bilingual, but even without it, health care interpreter salary can be as high for those who have mastered or even started learning their second language at university.

So the first stage is to become proficient in a chosen language pair. Many pursue their education at college. For some jobs, this may not be a must but in most cases, it is required to get certified. Some medical interpreting-related jobs in the private sector that do not involve communication with patients in a healthcare setting, may not demand certificate proof. It will be enough to finish a training course and get needed knowledge to start a career. It may be true, for example, for insurance companies or some other in-office positions. But if one is interested in interaction with patients or being employed at a hospital, it is obligatory to get certified.

Where to Start as Medical Translator

For those who wish to work in a clinical setting, a career path after formal education and certification would start an internship under supervision of a professional medical translator. Once required knowledge and skills are gained, one can start working independently in a hospital or another healthcare facility. For medical conference interpreting and office jobs, an internship is not required as long as an applicant has all necessary skill sets.

Following this career path, one can expect to get an entry-level position in company or an organization, climb up corporate ladder with professional growth, gaining experience. An increase in interpreter salary may definitely be proportional to achievements. Professional development here can vary case by case since although the years of experience in the field play an important role in getting a higher position but so do professionalism and ambitiousness.

Salaries of Medical Interpreters

As briefly touched upon above, there are two important factors that determine earnings in the language industry. Language pair one works by establishing demand and certification that acknowledges professional level of a language specialist. Same would also be true for medical translator salary formation. Language services in this respect are business, not much different from retail, where the same values of need and quality are essential for driving the trade. 

For the most part, medical interpretation requires face-to-face communication and is very rarely done online or via phone. It also suggests that location where one expects to work also plays an important role in constituting salary in the field. There’s work for medical interpreters, so accordingly higher pay, in densely populated areas with a high number of tourists and foreigners. So synthesizing all factors for illustration, with several highly renowned certificates Spanish interpreter’s salary in a hospital in California (with a considerably big Hispanic population) can be two times as high as that of the same profession with a basic certificate in Montana. Thus, salaries are often determined by proper planning of work in the industry.

So How Much Do Medical Interpreters Make on Average?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2019 the median annual wage for interpreters and translators is US$ 51,830. This number includes a variety of industries in which language professionals are working. Looking specifically into this field, the salary range in 2019 was rather wide and for the most part, higher than the median across all industries. There are no estimates yet, but most likely the pandemic situation of 2020 would suggest a higher salary medical interpreters would earn on average during this situation. Here’s a table showing hourly rate and annual salary of medical interpreters from different industries based on the data from US Bureau of Labor Statistics:

OccupationMean hourly rateMean annual salary
Working as interpreter (clinical setting)$25.77$53,600
Medical interpretation (social services)$20.78$43,220
Teaching medical interpreting (higher education institutions)$36.25$75,400
Managerial positions in healthcare$29.48$61,310

How to Make More as Medical Interpreter

Fairly in any profession, there are many different ways in which one can increase their earnings with little effort and confidence in their professionalism. For instance, certified interpreter salary is often much higher than that of a specialist without it as it gives multiple opportunities for occupation in highly paid positions in government services. Here are some strategies to increase one’s salary that would be suitable for medical interpreters operating with any language pair:

Get certified

What can be better than having a certificate? Having two or three of them! Concerning medical translation, it’s always a bonus to have extra certification. It would be most beneficial to get them in narrow specialization programs rather than in general medical field. Some of them are rather expensive but a certified medical interpreter salary makes a huge difference for the industry. As a bonus, certification boosts the trust of potential employers and increases one’s chances to get a job.

Gain more experience

The longer you work in the field, the higher is your salary. It does not mean, however, that one needs to simply continue doing your thing. Just wait for the right time to come. You take some extra jobs that will stand out in one’s CV and will make the wallet heavier.

Talk to your manager

It’s probably the easiest way. You have worked for a healthcare facility for several years and gained immense experience but your hospital interpreter salary does not reflect it anyhow? Ask your manager to raise it. Maybe they are wondering why you have not done so yet.

Perfect skills

It isn’t only about the mastery of language and translation techniques. Interpreter’s job requires excellent communicative skills too. Think honestly of your weak points, areas of improvement. In this way, you will find how to develop them into your fortes.

Consider geography

If there isn’t much work in the place where you reside or there are too many specialists in your area making the work cheaper? Consider moving to a different city or state, where Spanish interpreters salary (or basically any language pair) is two times higher. The best place to start with is the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Look at the map, evaluate employment opportunities, start packing your clothes. 

Be flexible

Maybe medical translation isn’t your only passion? Try to think of some additional jobs in similar areas that may be available even in the healthcare facility you work in. A good option would be to take extra projects in translation. Combined with your earnings from interpreting, hospital translator salary will improve your finances as well as help you learn something new.

Gain new knowledge

Ongoing education is important for almost any profession. It keeps your mind fresh and passionate about knowledge. It also increases one’s professionalism and helps to stay up-to-date, which is extremely topical for this field. Your salary will increase proportionally with your knowledge level.

5 Benefits of Being a Medical Interpreter

  1. Flexible working hours
    Office routine is not for everyone. For those who wish to interact with people a lot and be in constant motion, this job would be a perfect match. You’ll have a schedule, ability to plan all calls, meetings or sessions. There’s poss
  2. Various career opportunities
    After several years of experience in a clinical setting, a lot more jobs in the industry become available. If your certified healthcare interpreter salary does not inspire you anymore, you can start teaching medical translation for students at university and enjoy higher wages.
  3. Independence from location
    Medical interpreters do not only work for a hospital. They often need to visit patients at home and work in several facilities at the same time. It’s also possible for them to work remotely if needed, which is a considerable benefit.
  4. Making the world a better place
    First of all, medical translators help people in an especially stressful environment. They provide care as well as linguistic assistance with medical help, which is very fulfilling.
  5. Higher salary
    Of course, this job may be one’s passion and inspiration in life but we all have basic needs and wants. On average, a certified medical translator salary is lower than that of an interpreter with the corresponding credentials. What’s good about interpreting in the healthcare field is that you can make a good living doing this exciting and noble job.

Become a Medical Interpreter & Gain Success

In conclusion, formation of medical interpreter salary is an interesting and complicated process because it’s closely connected with humans and their interactions. It is an ever-growing also rapidly changing field having a lot of career opportunities. But as in any other profession, the most important factor in increasing salary is being a dedicated professional.

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