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4 requirements for the ideal medical translator

Published on 26/11/2019

The medical translator is a specialized professional translator with an essential role: to translate medical content for health professionals or for patients.

In both cases, the profession is very demanding and requires many skills such as rigour and confidentiality, apart from the 4 requirements indicated below.

1. Knowing the medical language

Knowing the medical language

This first competition may seem obvious. However, beyond knowing the medical and scientific terms, it is necessary to understand them in order to make rigorous and accurate translations.

Therefore, the ideal translator is often someone who has already worked in the health sector (doctor, nurse, pharmacist, etc.) or is passionate about medicine in a personal capacity.

2. Adapting translations to the target audience

In medical language, sentences are often as complex as the terms that make them up. However, it sometimes happens that the translation is intended for a non-specialist audience.

The ideal translator will have to be able to produce a fluent and understandable translation for his or her target audience, without losing the meaning of the text, which must be rigorously identical since it is a scientific document.

Although the document is intended for health professionals, the rigour and adaptability will be the same. Translations must be uniform and intelligible, even if they are more complex than in other areas.

3. Knowing how to do technical research

Knowing how to do technical research

A translator must constantly document himself for his translations and to keep himself up to date technically and scientifically. In fact, medicine and science are, in general, two areas in constant evolution, as is the language used.

You will often have to translate prospectuses for drugs recently introduced on the market, thesis defences or even official scientific publications. In any case, it is essential for the translator to have a minimum of knowledge of this information in order to deliver a professional and quality translation.

4. Training and a university degree

Training and a university degree

Although it is not mandatory to have a university degree to become a professional translator, it is a practically essential background for a medical translator.

In fact, companies that use medical translators or, more generally, technical translators, have tougher requirements than those that require non-specialist translators.
It is essential that the translator has a broad knowledge of the field linked to his or her translations and of the corresponding technical vocabulary.

The ideal medical translator will, for example, have a university master's degree in specialist translation, along with a scientific degree, even if it is simply a bachelor's degree in science. You will obviously have to demonstrate your experience in this field and, failing that, your medical interest and knowledge.

Specialized translation is a profession that needs rigor. This is further reinforced in the case of technical translation. Therefore, the medical translator will have to demonstrate his or her rigour, discretion, flexibility and ability to adapt in order to keep abreast of the latest developments in a profession that is evolving rapidly and constantly.

Josh Gambin's picture
Josh Gambin

Josh Gambin holds a 5-year degree in Biology from the University of Valencia (Spain) and a 4-year degree in Translation and Interpreting from the University of Granada (Spain). He has worked as a freelance translator, in-house translator, desktop publisher and project manager. From 2002, he is a founding member of AbroadLlink and currently works as Marketing and Sales Manager.

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