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Just because you speak two or more languages does not mean being a professional interpreter is right for you! You must also have passion and dedication for helping people with Limited English Proficiency. This rewarding work increases our communities’ health and prosperity, while the skills and experience can also help you open other career doors in the health care field.

As an interpreter you'll use your language skills to assist others during medical, social service and other types of appointments. Being an interpreter is a great way to earn money. The more assignments you take, the more you can earn. It's perfect for those looking for a flexible schedule with good pay.

Sache International Language is always interested in interpreter career development and we strongly support and promote the interpreter community. We will partner with you to assist you in getting interpreter training and credentialing. Call us to explore opportunities, we are happy to answer questions even if you are just getting started finding out if professional interpretation is a good career path for you.

Sache partners with advocacy groups and associations in order to help interpreters gain access to the necessary resources and information vital for career development.

What is health care interpreting?

Health Care Interpreting (HCI), is scheduled interpretation that takes place in health care settings of any sort, including doctor’s offices, clinics, hospitals, home health visits, mental health clinics, public health presentations, and financial assistance. Typically, the setting is an interview between one or more health care providers (doctor, nurse, lab technician), health care team(s), and a patient (or the patient and one or more family members).

What is the definition of a qualified (acceptable to work for most providers in Oregon) interpreter?

An individual who has been assessed for professional skills, including language proficiency, demonstrates a high level of proficiency in at least two languages, and has the appropriate training and experience to interpret with skill and accuracy while adhering to the National Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice published by the National Council on Interpreting in Health Care.

What is the difference between a health care interpreter and a bilingual individual?

A bilingual individual is a person who has some degree of proficiency in two languages. A high level of bilingualism is the most basic of the qualifications of a competent interpreter, but by itself does not ensure the ability to interpret. A bilingual employee may provide direct services in both languages but, without additional training, is not qualified to serve as an interpreter.

What is the difference between “interpretation” and “translation”?

In popular usage, the terms “translator” and “translation” are frequently used for conversion of either oral OR written communications. However, within the language professions, translation is distinguished from interpreting according to whether the message is produced orally (interpreting) or in writing (translation).

What should professional health care interpreters know to do a good job?

The following seven components together comprise a reasonably comprehensive process for initial assessment of qualifications for health care interpreting.


  • Basic language skills. General proficiency in speaking and understanding each of the languages in which the applicant would be expected to work. (If multiple languages are involved, it is essential that the applicant’s ability in each language be assessed, especially those in which the applicant may have more limited proficiency.) The applicant should be able to demonstrate public speaking skills.


  • Code of Ethics. Recognition of ethical issues, knowledge of ethical standards (a code of ethics), and ethical decision-making.


  • Cultural issues. Ability to anticipate and recognize misunderstandings that arise from the differing cultural assumptions and expectations of providers and patients and to respond to such issues appropriately.


  • Health care terminology. Knowledge of commonly used terms and concepts related to the human body; symptoms, illnesses, and medications; and health care specialties and treatments in each language, including the ability to interpret or explicate technical expressions.


  • Integrated interpreting skills. Ability to perform as required for employment, demonstrated by interpreting a simulated cross-linguistic interview with acceptable accuracy and completeness while monitoring and helping to manage the interaction in the interest of better communication and understanding.


  • Translation of simple instructions. Ability to produce oral translations, or, where appropriate, brief written translations, of written texts such as signage or medicinal labels.


  • Professional presentation of oneself in dress, language, and demeanor in appointments. The ability to consistently dress and conduct oneself in accordance with the client’s expectations conveys respect for the other participants and members of the health care team.

Some interpreters say they are “certified”. Is there a difference between qualified and certified interpreters?

Yes. A certified interpreter is one who meets the requirements for qualification and who is certified as competent by a professional organization or government entity through rigorous testing based on appropriate and consistent criteria. Oregon’s Health Care Interpreter Program through the Oregon Health Authority includes two levels of credentialing qualification and certification. To be credentialled in Oregon as either a qualified or certified Heath Care Interpreter (HCI) a bilingual individual must meet all of the requirements listed on the OHA site. (link to Education button in Opportunities section) Qualification is available to almost all languages, but only seven languages can be certified: Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Russian, Korean, Arabic, and Vietnamese. Certification calls for an extra level of testing.

Where can I find training?

There are few colleges or universities that offer programs in medical interpreting. For a list of colleges that offer programs in translation and interpreting, see the American Translators Association website www.atanet.org. For self-guided learning about the profession, explore these websites: National Council on Health Care (NCIHC), Oregon Health Authority (OHA), Oregon Health Care Interpreters Association (OHCIA).

Interpreters who have had limited training or have taken a screening test administered by an employing health, interpreter, or referral agency are not considered certified. Some programs offer a certificate of completion, but this does not equal certification.

I am bilingual in English and Spanish and am interested in becoming an interpreter. What should I do?

A good starting point is to review a job description for a health care interpreter at Explore Health Careers. You may also find it useful to read all the information in our OPPORTUNITIES section.

What is the difference between a health care interpreter and other types of interpreters?

An interpreter, in general, is a person who renders a message spoken or signed in one language into a second language and who abides by a code of professional ethics.

A health care interpreter is one who interprets in health care settings of any sort, including doctor’s offices, clinics, hospitals, home health visits, mental health clinics, and public health presentations. Typically, the setting is an interview between a health care provider (doctor, nurse, lab technician) and a patient (or the patient and one or more family members).



If you want to find out more about the requirements, training, and other resources for interpreters, a wealth of information and tools can be found at these links:


And of course, we would love to hear from you!

cambodian interpreter


Sache International Language Services is a wonderful company for self-contractor interpreters. Every day we are empowered to help people feel understood. The people at Sache embrace diversity and offer the best interpretation services in more than 200 languages. The director and the staff in the scheduling department are really amazingly helpful, and they are always excited to talk to you about available appointments.

They attentively maintain great communication, whether it’s about a last-minute appointment they want to offer you or a cancellation that they want to inform you of ahead of time. I definitely love working with Sache International Language Services!

spanish interpreter


I have been a Spanish medical interpreter for the last 23 years. When I first started, I thought it was just going to be a part-time job for me, but the more appointments I was able to execute, the more I realized this was more than just a job. Not only was I helping people obtain the right medical explanation, I was learning about different Hispanic/Latino cultures: Cuba, El Salvador, Columbia, Costa Rica, all the way to Peru. I have been able to meet so many new people and made some good friendships along the way. Having a very flexible schedule has been the highlight of my experience.

For the last 8 years, I have been a part of the growing company Sache. They are more than just an employer; they are like family. We depend on each other. Their electronic timesheet system makes tracking smart and convenient, not only for them, but for the interpreters, as well. Sache keeps us on our toes and up-to-date with the ever-evolving tech world. The people behind the scenes (in the call center) have always been great at managing the coverage of the incoming appointments, ensuring that each is filled as desired. It is wonderful to work with Sache.

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