Category: Best practices for translation buyers

Should You Hire Certified Medical Translators?

One of the many questions I am asked all the time is, “Do medical translators need to be certified?”

The answer is NO, they don’t NEED to be certified. But if you’re looking for evidence of a translator’s PROFESSIONALISM, here’s some important things you should look for:

Professional Associations

  • ATA (American Translators Association): ATA’s 10,000 members include translators, interpreters, teachers, project managers, web and software developers, language company owners, hospitals, universities, and government agencies.
  • ITI (Institute of Translation and Interpreting): Founded in 1986 and with over 3,000 members, both in the UK and internationally, ITI’s members include Language Services Businesses (LSBs) who provide a range of services across a variety of languages and Corporate Education members which are higher education establishments.
  • SFT (Société Française des Traducteurs): The SFT today counts more than 1,300 members, making it the largest professional translators’ union in France. The diversity of the SFT’s membership—which includes in-house and self-employed language service providers as well as literary translators—reflects the broad range of activities found in today’s global translation market.

Such associations have a strict professional code of conduct their members must adhere to.

Personal Training

Before asking someone to translate important documents, it is important to ensure that they are sufficiently trained. I recommend asking translators if they have

  • a Master’s degree in translation or
  • significant experience as a medical staff member

You can also ask them which types of documents they usually translate and if they have a website. This information should give you a much better idea of their expertise and experience.

Preferred Requirements

Are you sure you’re not looking for an interpreter?

Medical interpreters work with oral communications, such as assisting in a conversation between two languages. Translators work with the written word.

The National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters has offered certification for the last 10 years.

If you don’t know where to begin to find a translator, you can read my blog post on How to find a translator or contact me directly at

I’d be happy to help!

Do you know someone who might find this article interesting? Don’t hesitate to forward it to them! Let me know in the comments your thoughts about this important issue, and let’s learn together!

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Post reviewed by Johanna Galyen from Glowing Still

3 reasons why you should change your translator search strategy

When you buy a new computer, you don’t choose one blindly. And for translations, the same applies! For translation projects, the stakes can be very high. A poor translation can threaten the reputation of your company.

When you’re looking for a translator, what do you do? You type “English French translation” in Google. After all, when you look for an electrician, you’ll just type “electrician” and call the first 3, right? Why shouldn’t it be the same with a translator?

3 reasons why you should change your translator search strategy:

1. Would you let a robot write your scientific article?

You would certainly not. So why would you let a robot translate it? The first results on Google will actually be automatic translation websites. If you just need to translate a couple of words, that’s fine! These websites have greatly improved over the last decade but if you need to translate a clinical trial for a lung cancer drug, they won’t be a good fit.

2. Would you pay your dentist USD 30/hour?

With a such a low rate, you can’t expect a professional work. You’ve heard of translation companies. You’ll ask them for a quote and pick up the cheapest one. Ok, this might be a good strategy but you have to be aware of how some translation agencies work. Most of them work with external resources (translators and reviewers) to be able to meet the increasing demand. Nothing bad in that. Except when they expect translators to apply low rates. Translators willing to take on low rate-projects are not the best ones or not the most experienced ones. If you want to call on a translation agency, I would recommend you to make a targeted search to find the agency specialized in your specific area of work (e. g. finance, pharmacology, legal) and ask them about the experience of their translators and the fairness of their rate policy. Some translation agencies are very open to discussion when it comes to rates and value the experience of their translators. They’re the ones you want to work with.

3. Would you walk in the dark if you could use a flashlight?

It’s ok to be lost if you’ve never had to buy a translation. Let me guide you through it. Translating is actually a real job and there are translators’ federations. Just like in other professions, translators can be part of a federation. Such federations generally have a directory on their websites, like the Société française des traducteurs and the American Translators Association. You can search the directory to find the perfect professional for your translation job. The Société Française des Traducteurs has produced a short booklet called Translation, getting it right – A guide to buying translations, which is a gold mine of useful things to know before looking for a translator.

What’s your strategy when you have a translation job to get done? Does someone from your company do it or do you ask a professional translator? In any case, don’t hesitate to contact me for more advice about finding the right translator at I’d be happy to help.


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