If you are a professional translator or interpreter – or if you are considering launching a career in this field – we have good news: the job market for translators and interpreters is extremely strong and expected to continue to grow over the next several years. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 17% increase in translator and interpreter jobs between now and 2026, a growth rate that is much faster than other professions. Within this already strong job market, there are two industries that are in great need of interpreters – the medical and legal fields.
The Need for Medical Interpreters
Health care professionals need to be able to communicate clearly with their patients in order to provide high quality care. But because of the increase in non-English-speaking patients throughout the US, communication can be a challenge, which is why medical interpreters are in such high demand.
It goes without saying that not only does the patient need to clearly understand instructions from the medical professional; the doctor or nurse also needs to know what symptoms the patient is experiencing in order to provide accurate diagnoses and treatment recommendations. The results of miscommunications between physician and patient can be disastrous. But even on the administrative side – with regard to scheduling, billing, and insurance issues, for example – it’s vital that medical staff and patients understand each other clearly.
Health care industry interpreting is a highly specialized field. Medical interpreters must have a solid understanding of medical terminology. They also need to respect doctor-patient confidentiality and maintain a professional demeanor at all times.
The Need for Legal Interpreters
Another industry that has been significantly impacted by the increase in non-English-speaking clients is the legal profession. Thanks to that increase, as well as state and federal guidelines that require the presence of a courtroom interpreter for any non-English speaker, there is a dire need for experienced interpreters within the legal profession. But interpreters are not just needed in the courtroom setting. Many state and federal laws also require interpreters to be present as needed in other court-ordered programs, such as drug rehabilitation or anger management classes, for example.
As is true within the health care industry, the results of poor communication within the legal field can have disastrous consequences. In fact, many court cases have been appealed or overturned as a result of miscommunication due to language barriers. This can be costly not only to the parties involved, but to taxpayers as well.
Legal interpreting is also a highly specialized field within the translation/interpreting industry. Most legal interpreters either have previous experience within the legal field or work for many years to develop a solid understanding of legal terminology and law. It’s vital that a legal interpreter project a professional image, and that he or she maintain a neutral position in relation to the legal case and always respect the confidentiality of the proceedings.
Becoming a medical or legal interpreter takes time, but most of these interpreters would agree that the opportunity to assist individuals and work with professionals in these two highly specialized fields makes it well worth the effort.