How to Become a Medical Interpreter in Four Steps in 2020

The medical interpreter is required to be well-trained in both English and their target language and the field of medical interpreting. As a result, a medical interpreter can obtain a certified medical interpreter's title and work for a remote medical interpreting or on-site service.

What Are the Certification Organizations to Become a Certified Medical Interpreter?

Medical interpreter's Certifications are a means for patients, interpreters, healthcare providers, and language services agencies to identify the most competent interpreters. Currently, two organizations provide national certification for medical interpreters.


Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters (CCHI)


National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters (NBCMI)

The Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters (CCHI) offers the CHI Exam while the National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters (NBCMI) offers the CMI Exam.

What Are the Requirements to Become a Medical Interpreter?


Medical interpreters must comply with similar requirements from both certification organizations. Anyone who wants to sit for a certification exam and become a medical interpreter has to:

  • Be at least 18 years old


  • Have at least a U.S. high school diploma (or GED) or its equivalent from another country


  • Complete a minimum of 40 hours of medical interpreting training (academic or non-academic program)


  • Possess linguistic proficiency in English and the primary language for which you are seeking certification


The CCHI requires that you demonstrate linguistic proficiency in both English and the other language for which you are seeking certification.


The NBCMI, meanwhile, requires you to show proficiency in English through a bachelor’s degree, a Master’s Degree, Ph.D., or other higher education degrees. Passes in numerous tests (TOEFL and IELTS, for example) also qualify. Roughly the same is required in the applicant’s second language, as well as a higher education degree in a country that speaks the target language. Applicants complete an oral and written exam in order to obtain certification available in Mandarin, Spanish, Russian, Korean, Vietnamese, and Cantonese. Those interpreting other languages need to go through the CCHI.


Once qualified, you need to complete 32 hours of continuing education every four years for the CCHI and 30 hours every five years for the NBCMI to retain your certification. Next step, you will become a medical interpreter!

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