Frequently Asked Questions

About our Program & Application Process

$0.00. Our program and all our supportive services are 100% free of charge. Yes, really! This includes all coursework, materials, scholarships, on-site childcare and transportation assistance.

Admission to our Medical Interpreter Certificate job training program is highly competitive and by application only. See our Apply page for information on our next class.

All classes take place on weekday evenings, and are held at locations in central Boston with parking and MBTA access. Institutions that have hosted our program include the Boston Medical Center, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and The Dimock Center. More detailed information about the next class will be available on our Apply page as soon as it is confirmed.

We provide our program especially for women in an effort to offset professional and economic gender-based inequities. Read more about our mission here.

We accept all languages, and have trained students in 37 different languages and counting, from Albanian to Zulu.

Our program participants are all bilingual women who were low-income at the time they applied to our program. They range in age from 18-67, and call 43 different countries home. They speak 47 different languages, and bring a wealth of experience to the interpreting profession from various other fields, including: Service and retail, social and human services, education, healthcare, and more. They are 100% talented, motivated, and determined to make a difference in their lives and the lives of their communities.

While attending an information session is not mandatory, it is very highly encouraged. It is an opportunity to meet our staff, for us to meet you and for you to ask us questions directly as well as learn a little bit more about our program and the interpreting profession. 

Yes - as we acknowledge that you may have gained valuable experience since your last application that you should include in your application. We give repeat applicants special consideration, and some of our most successful graduates are repeat applicants. 

No. Attendance is extremely important for your success in the program, and we have a strict attendance policy. If you are not available for the full program please wait till next year to apply.

Yes, you can, as long as your job doesn't conflict with our classes. It will be a lot of work and you will need to be extremely organized but many women have completed the course while working full time jobs.

Absolutely! Transgender women are women and are especially encouraged to apply.

No. Our program is for women who do not already have certificates in medical interpreting.

About Interpreting

Interpreting is for spoken language and translation is for written language - this class is for interpreting so you need to able to speak two languages with the facility of a native speaker. That means you should be able to make yourself understood easily in either language. You should speak both languages smoothly, comfortably and correctly with only minor mistakes. Selected applicants will be tested for language fluency before being admitted to the program.

That's a common misconception about professional interpreting. Many people assume that if an individual speaks two languages, she or he can automatically be an interpreter. But the truth is that being bilingual is not enough to be a competent interpreter, especially in medical settings where someone's health (and perhaps life!) depends on your interpretation skills. In our medical interpreting course, students learn thousands of medical terms in two languages; get a functional understanding of body systems, symptoms, diseases, diagnostic tools, and treatments; learn the US medical system and the many ways in which it might differ from the systems that are familiar to LEP (Limited English Proficiency) patients; learn the interpreter Code of Ethics and sharpen their skills solving hypothetical ethical dilemmas; receive rigorous language coaching from an experienced professional medical interpreter who specializes in the same languages as the student; and much, much more. Bilingual individuals who interpret without having had formal training as described above as called "ad hoc interpreters." Although sometimes there are no other options, using ad hoc interpreters in medical settings can be dangerous, costly, and is not considered "equal access to health care" for LEP patients. Moreover, medical institutions receiving any federal funding are required by law to provide professional (not ad hoc) medical interpreters to LEP patients. A reputable medical institution is very unlikely to hire you as a medical interpreter without the successful completion of a formal Medical Interpreter Certificate course.

No. Although you are not guaranteed to find work, the majority of our graduates are hired for interpreting jobs within 3-6 months of graduation. In order to find work you must be determined and motivated to begin the job search process right after graduation, or even sometimes during the program. To support your success, we provide ongoing career support that will help you apply to jobs and advance in your career. Getting your certificate is the first step in a professional career as an interpreter but there are many more steps to follow.

Not usually, but as a freelance interpreter it is possible to work the equivalent of 40 hours per week of a full-time position. Depending on your target language full-time interpreting jobs are possible but often require at least 1-2 years experience. You will most probably start working for different agencies and hospitals. Getting your certificate is the first step in a professional career as an interpreter but there are many more steps to follow. With freelance experience you are more likely to get full time staff positions.

There is a need for interpreters in most languages but there may be limited local demand, so depending on your language there may be different ways you have to search for work. Regardless, we will support you in your job search efforts.