Interpreters must have oral and reading skills in both languages, and translators must have writing skills in the target language as well. We can’t interpret or translate what we can’t understand or what we can’t say/write. What does it take to be a professional?

Translational action, the skill of taking the message from one language to the other, on the other hand, is an additional skill. The ability to discern what expression in one language communicates the same message as an expression in another language simply can’t be taught in a short 40, 60, or 100 hour program.

What is the purpose of short trainings?

When candidates already have the language proficiency and translational action skills, they can be introduced to the additional competencies expected of professionals. We can teach:

  • Terminology research
  • Ethics problem-solving
  • How to start practicing the basic skills of the profession with an eye for self-evaluation
  • How to work with a partner for better results

I am giving short trainings in translation and will be giving 60 or 70 hour trainings in medical interpreting again. However, I do not expect my students to become professionals through my introductory trainings alone. My courses are the equivalent of a two or three credit course in college and no more. Being a professional requires more than that.

Expectations for my 60 hour trainings

I hope my trainings prepare my students to…

  • Continue learning from other instructors
  • Build on what they have gleaned in our time together
  • Solve problems on their own once they leave my class

Some of my students are experienced professionals when they come to my class. They are adding to their knowledge base, connecting dots in a new way. However, my class is not what makes them professionals. They did that with their hard work over an extended period of time.

After my class, their professional development continues, as they become certified or acquire other means to demonstrate their skills to the community at large. That is what we expect of professionals.

Certifications applicable to the interpreting and translation field




What is a professional?

I have observed that professionals have:

  • A high school diploma, and in many cases a college degree.
  • Certifications in their field or another objective way to demonstrate their skills.
  • Soft skills in communication, teamwork, time management and other areas. The Balance Careers site has a detailed list of expectations.

I hope to support my colleagues as they take steps in their professional growth. Many of them become certified Spanish translators or certified medical interpreters. I’m thrilled every time it happens.


See the Business Dictionary definition of professionals:

  1. Person formally certified by a professional body of belonging to a specific profession by virtue of having completed a required course of studies and/or practice. And whose competence can usually be measured against an established set of standards.
  2. Person who has achieved an acclaimed level of proficiency in a calling or trade.