How to get started as a medical translator, landing a job
Autor de la hebra: Joseph Tein

Joseph Tein  Identity Verified
Estados Unidos
Local time: 10:52
Miembro 2009
español al inglés
+ ...
Oct 10, 2020

I often get asked 'How did you get started as a medical translator?' And I can just tell them my own story. My question for you colleagues is, what would you recommend to someone wanting to be a medical translator? Please mention things like what sorts of training/experience/education you consider necessary, as well as how and where to search for jobs in this field. Maybe also how you yourself got into the field. Thanks very much for your input and suggestions.

[Edited at 2020-10-10 01:00
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I often get asked 'How did you get started as a medical translator?' And I can just tell them my own story. My question for you colleagues is, what would you recommend to someone wanting to be a medical translator? Please mention things like what sorts of training/experience/education you consider necessary, as well as how and where to search for jobs in this field. Maybe also how you yourself got into the field. Thanks very much for your input and suggestions.

[Edited at 2020-10-10 01:00 GMT]

[Edited at 2020-10-10 01:12 GMT]

[Edited at 2020-10-10 01:12 GMT]
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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finlandia
Local time: 20:52
Miembro 2003
finlandés al alemán
+ ...
On behalf of a friend? Oct 12, 2020

Your postings sound as if you need the advice but do not want to say it.

Jorge Payan
 

Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finlandia
Local time: 20:52
Miembro 2003
finlandés al alemán
+ ...
For a start Oct 12, 2020

Bye a medical dictionary and wait for someone to contact you. Or answer a job offer in the medical field. Then search for material in you target language about the stuff in question. Like with all translation matters.

 

Michele Fauble  Identity Verified
Estados Unidos
Local time: 11:52
Miembro 2006
noruego al inglés
+ ...
WHAT? Oct 12, 2020

Heinrich Pesch wrote:

Your postings sound as if you need the advice but do not want to say it.


Joseph is an experienced medical translator.


Joseph Tein
Neil Ashby
Rachel Fell
writeaway
 

Joseph Tein  Identity Verified
Estados Unidos
Local time: 10:52
Miembro 2009
español al inglés
+ ...
PERSONA QUE INICIÓ LA HEBRA
Heinrich Oct 12, 2020

Hi Heinrich,

Yes as Michele has said, I have a lot of experience as a medical translator ... I've been doing it for over 15 years. My question, indeed, is how to help other people who ask me for advice. I can give them my own experience, but I wanted also to hear other people's recommendations and experiences. For my medical translator colleagues, I want to know things like how you got started, what experience / training / skills you consider essential, how newcomers should go ab
... See more
Hi Heinrich,

Yes as Michele has said, I have a lot of experience as a medical translator ... I've been doing it for over 15 years. My question, indeed, is how to help other people who ask me for advice. I can give them my own experience, but I wanted also to hear other people's recommendations and experiences. For my medical translator colleagues, I want to know things like how you got started, what experience / training / skills you consider essential, how newcomers should go about finding translations jobs, especially when getting started. Thank you all for your input!
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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Dinamarca
Local time: 19:52
Miembro 2003
danés al inglés
+ ...
Training and contacts Oct 12, 2020

While I was working in house in the 1990s, our employer sponsored a course in medical translation for two of my colleagues. When I started freelancing, I signed up for the same course - there was a waiting list!

It was only a start, but a very important start with suggestions for further training and self-study, and introductions to EU law in the area, and the EMA websites, Danish authorities' websites, and the types of texts and documents that frequently need translation.
... See more
While I was working in house in the 1990s, our employer sponsored a course in medical translation for two of my colleagues. When I started freelancing, I signed up for the same course - there was a waiting list!

It was only a start, but a very important start with suggestions for further training and self-study, and introductions to EU law in the area, and the EMA websites, Danish authorities' websites, and the types of texts and documents that frequently need translation.

It was largely distance teaching for working translators, but there were monthly face-to-face meetings, with time for networking with the instructor and his assistants and between students.

The instructor later sent me two or three translation assignments - I was an English native speaker among a majority of Danish students - and I met others whom I have later worked with.
In fact for medical assignments, contacts with colleagues have been my major source of work.

Typically, Danish colleagues have recommended me because I was an English native speaker, and/or because they did not take on medical translation themselves, but knew I did.

My interest in medicine goes a long way back - I do not have actual medical qualifications, but when training as a technical librarian I learned about academic and research environments in industry and universities, and chose medicine as my field of special interest. Later, I worked for a time as an auxiliary with the home care services, in contact with patients and qualified health workers. I supplemented my school Latin with self-study in medical Latin, and I have bought, borrowed and studied text books used by medical students and health workers.

It is a while since I have done any regular medical translation, but over the years I have had several regular clients and translated quite large volumes of medical texts.


[Edited at 2020-10-12 19:10 GMT]
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expressisverbis
 

Chris S  Identity Verified
Reino Unido
sueco al inglés
+ ...
Take drugs Oct 12, 2020

Start with drug trials. It’s not technical medical. So you’re not going to kill anyone. Translating or back-translating patient leaflets, labels, itty-bitty stuff like that. Most of it is only translated to tick some boxes. All the terms are on the Net. Or in the memory. Everything is triple-checked. Shedloads of money poured into it. You really just need to understand the foreign language. Which most translators oddly seem not to. The big agencies are crying out for reliable people.

expressisverbis
Christine Andersen
Laura Kingdon
Alexsandro Pizziolo
Adieu
 

María C Turri  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 15:52
Miembro 2019
inglés al español
Protocols Oct 13, 2020

I started translating protocols for new drugs and trials 8 years ago for an agency I was working at the time on completely different topics. It helped me to have some background knowledge from high school. Also, I got great feedback on my early years and even sometimes I continue to get it.

A must in English to Spanish is access to Cosnautas https://www.cosnautas.com/es. It helps you solve mos
... See more
I started translating protocols for new drugs and trials 8 years ago for an agency I was working at the time on completely different topics. It helped me to have some background knowledge from high school. Also, I got great feedback on my early years and even sometimes I continue to get it.

A must in English to Spanish is access to Cosnautas https://www.cosnautas.com/es. It helps you solve most doubts.
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expressisverbis
 

expressisverbis
Portugal
Local time: 18:52
Miembro 2015
inglés al portugués
+ ...
My humble and simple tips Oct 13, 2020

Chris S wrote:

You really just need to understand the foreign language. Which most translators oddly seem not to.


I could not agree more. Yesterday, I asked a question at Kudoz Help. Somehow, I provided a hint of the term in my question and a reference taken from a dictionary.
The first answer I got was the tip and the link of the dictionary that I have provided before. Very smart! Well done!

"How to get started as a medical translator?"
Here my humble and simple tips from my own experience:
You can take up some training programs. I think Proz provide this from time to time.
Try to focus in one category of medical translation. To be ambitious is good but start small.
Invest in medical books, manuals, and dictionaries. This material will help you in the future.
Connect with other medical translators (junior and senior professionals). We can learn a lot with each other.
Working with some NGOs can be also extremely helpful if you have that chance.


Christine Andersen
Alexsandro Pizziolo
Emily Scott
 

Chris S  Identity Verified
Reino Unido
sueco al inglés
+ ...
Another type of medical-lite Oct 13, 2020

I used to have a nice sideline in translating summaries of research at a Swedish medical university. The articles would be written specifically for the media and the public, so they were written fairly simply. It was interesting and it was fun. School biology plus a little research was enough. This could then be a stepping stone to other more technical stuff as you build your knowledge.

Another area with a lot of work is insurance claims. This work is patient-specific so I never to
... See more
I used to have a nice sideline in translating summaries of research at a Swedish medical university. The articles would be written specifically for the media and the public, so they were written fairly simply. It was interesting and it was fun. School biology plus a little research was enough. This could then be a stepping stone to other more technical stuff as you build your knowledge.

Another area with a lot of work is insurance claims. This work is patient-specific so I never touch it. But at least you won’t kill anyone if you get something wrong.
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expressisverbis
 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Dinamarca
Local time: 19:52
Miembro 2003
danés al inglés
+ ...
Be prepared for some harrowing stories! Oct 13, 2020

Chris S wrote:
Another area with a lot of work is insurance claims. This work is patient-specific so I never touch it. But at least you won’t kill anyone if you get something wrong.


I started with an insurance case while I was still working in-house - and the colleague who proofread it for me found it quite hard to stomach until I assured him there was a more or less ´happy ending´ when the patient recovered surprisingly well from his injuries.

A couple of these cases still haunt me. One went on and on because it included wrangling with authorities for grants and assistance ... and you do not always get to know how it all ended!

But as Chris says, you can't kill anyone, and it all adds up as experience.

[Edited at 2020-10-13 11:27 GMT]


expressisverbis
Alexsandro Pizziolo
 

Joseph Tein  Identity Verified
Estados Unidos
Local time: 10:52
Miembro 2009
español al inglés
+ ...
PERSONA QUE INICIÓ LA HEBRA
I appreciate everyone's responses Oct 13, 2020

Thank you everyone for your comments so far. Just to share a little of my experience: I was lucky enough to work in several hospitals years ago (never planning to become a translator at the time). One was a university teaching hospital. I had the opportunity to read a lot of patients' charts, and also worked for one doctor who had a project that involved teaching patients how to read and understand their own medical records; I also enjoyed reading his medical journals! (which I only partly und... See more
Thank you everyone for your comments so far. Just to share a little of my experience: I was lucky enough to work in several hospitals years ago (never planning to become a translator at the time). One was a university teaching hospital. I had the opportunity to read a lot of patients' charts, and also worked for one doctor who had a project that involved teaching patients how to read and understand their own medical records; I also enjoyed reading his medical journals! (which I only partly understood). This greatly helped me learn terminology and the medical writing style. The learning never stops! I'm always running into new terms, new tests, new acronyms. And the more we know about anatomy and how the body functions, the better our translation ability. As Maria Candelaria Turri wrote below, Cosnautas is an indispensable resource for Spanish medical acronyms.Collapse


expressisverbis
Emily Scott
 

Adieu  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:52
inglés al ruso
+ ...
Pricing Jan 12

María C Turri wrote:

I started translating protocols for new drugs and trials 8 years ago for an agency I was working at the time on completely different topics. It helped me to have some background knowledge from high school. Also, I got great feedback on my early years and even sometimes I continue to get it.

A must in English to Spanish is access to Cosnautas https://www.cosnautas.com/es. It helps you solve most doubts.



Do you charge premium rates vs. simpler topics like market research materials? How much higher do you go?


 


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