How Can I Become a Certified Medical Interpreter?

Mar 26, 2020

Medical interpreting is a highly sought-after career path with plenty of opportunities for you to make a difference. Most medical facilities need a medical translator and interpreter; after all, hospitals have patients with different backgrounds and not all are native English speakers. The medical interpreter needs to be fluent in both English and the target language, not to mention familiar with medical terminology.

At Liberty Language Services, we provide industry-specific interpretation training. Here’s everything you need to do to become a certified medical interpreter.

Related: Language Access in Healthcare The Requirements for The Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters (CCHI)

If you are interested in taking the exam, here are some requirements you should be familiar with to get certified by The National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters.

Here are the requirements for a medical interpreter certificate:

Be at least 18 years or older.

Have a high school diploma or a GED.

Complete at least 40 hours of medical interpreting training from an accredited program.

Have proficiency in both English and the target language.

Once you meet each of these requirements, it’s time to take and pass the exam. The exam a medical interpreting career is called the CoreCHI. The exam is online and has about 100 multiple-choice questions. The test covers fundamental healthcare interpreting knowledge as well as medical terminology.

If your target language is Spanish, Mandarin, or Arabic, then you will need an oral exam in both your target language and English. A passing score on both the oral exam and multiple choice is required for certification.

Are you fluent in English and another language? Check out our online Medical Interpreter Training to become a healthcare interpreter!

Related: Training at Language Services

Where to Get Training

Medical interpreters need to have oral proficiency in both English and their target language. You can view the complete list of acceptable tests and scores on our website.

Our Medical Interpreter Training Course meets the 40-hour requirement from the Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters (CCHI) and the National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters (NBCMI). Once a payment is made towards the course, you will have 30 days to complete it.

The course contains five units and two Medical Terminology webinars that are five hours each. The sections are led by Liberty Language Services co-founder, Sameh Abdelkader, who is a licensed trainer for both Bridging the Gap (BTG) and The Community Interpreter.

Looking to become a healthcare interpreter but finding it hard to make time for in-person classes? Check out Liberty Language Services Online Medical Interpreter Programs!

Renewal of your certification

Just like any license, you will have to renew your medical interpretation certification at a certain point. If you obtain certification by CCHI, then you will need 16 hours of continuing education every two years. That means in four years, you will have to complete 32 hours of training.

However, if you obtain certification by the National Board, you will have to get 30 hours of training after five years.

Modes of Medical Interpreting

There are two types of interpreting modalities for a medical interpreting career.
1. Simultaneous Interpreting:

This is where the medical interpreter interprets as he listens to the speaker. With this system, there is no room to pause because the conversation must be kept at a flow without any interruptions. This is more commonly used at lectures, talks, and business conferences.

2. Consecutive Interpreting:

This is where the medical interpreter interprets after the speaker pauses. The interpreter will have to take listen and take notes at the same time if this helps them remember what to interpret.

The best part about this is that the interpreter can ask the speaker to clarify for maximum accuracy. This is very common in medical clinics and facilities. Usually, the interpreters can use both methods to interpret, but in medical settings, the consecutive mode is preferred.


Becoming a medical interpreter is both a challenging and rewarding career. You serve as the primary connection between the health care provider and the patient. Often times, patients can’t speak English, but fortunately, with an interpreter, they feel more confident in communicating their needs.

The courses are highly organized and can fit any schedule. Make sure to show proficiency in both English and the target language before taking the course.

After everything is completed, it’s time to enjoy a career in medical interpreting and feel fulfilled in helping both patients and healthcare providers. Become a professional interpreter with the right training from Liberty Language Services. Here you will gain the skills necessary to become a qualified medical interpreter and go on to become certified.