Health Care Interpreter

What will I learn in this program?

This certificate program is for bilingual and bicultural individuals who are interested in facilitating linguistic and cultural communication between patients and healthcare providers. The program is designed to train students to develop the awareness, knowledge and the skills necessary for effective language interpretation in health care settings.  Through academic preparation, practical skills training and service (internship) in healthcare settings, certificate  candidates learn a) the roles and responsibilities of a healthcare interpreter; b) basic knowledge of common medical conditions, treatments and procedures; c) insight into language and cultural nuances for specific communities and d) application of interpreting skills and protocols in English and the language of service.  The program focuses on face-to-face interpreting, but also includes instruction in video-monitored-interpreting technology.  Students will interact directly with patients, healthcare providers, and others involved in delivering culturally and linguistically appropriate healthcare.  Students may be exposed to people who are injured, chronically or acutely ill, or experiencing other major life-events.

What kind of jobs can I get once I complete the program? How much will they pay? What “demand” is expected for these jobs?


Average Annual Salary

Expected Regional Demand

Staff Medical Interpreter

31,200 – 52,000

Increasing due to recent legislation and increased demand

Per Diem / Contractor Medical Interpreter

31,200 – 40,000

Hours are not guaranteed.

Interpreting Services Managers/Directors

52,000 – 62,400

Small demand, since this is a management position.

Coordinators of linguistic and cultural services

40,000 – 55,000

Small demand.  The coordinator is generally an interpreter with seniority.

Bilingual staff in a healthcare agency


HCI training improves employability in a variety of medical and non-medical staff positions.


Does this program have any special enrollment requirements?

All students must attend an introductory course (HLTH 84) offered each semester. During that course you will be briefly assessed for fluency in both English and your Language of Services. Additionally, program applications are distributed at the orientation only. We strongly encourage students to take 51, Anat 14 and Phys 12 during the same semester that they take HLTH 84, if they haven't taken similar courses previously.

Minimal student qualifications include the ability to speak fluently in his/her language of service and an excellent proficiency in English and a commitment to the entire training program which consists of 3 courses.  The three courses are briefly described below.

Health 84 (REQUIRED INTRODUCTORY COURSE) Bilingual students are introduced to the field of interpreting in health care. Required for CCSF's Healthcare Interpreting (HCI) Certificate Program, students are introduced to the California HCI Standards, and explore the roles, scopes and practice of healthcare interpreters. The HCI program will be explained and linguistic proficiencies will be assesed. CSU

Health 80 is an introduction to medical interpreting.   This course is designed to develop a basic awareness, knowledge and skills necessary for language interpretation in health care settings.  At the completion of this course, students will be able to: describe the roles and responsibilities of a health care interpreter; explain the code of ethics involved in medical interpreting; discuss the similarities and or differences between the biomedical culture and student's own culture, acquire a basic knowledge of common medical conditions, treatments and procedures; gain insight in language and cultural nuances in specific communities; have opportunities to explore and develop other knowledge and skills necessary in the art of interpretation.

Health 81 focuses on training bilingual individuals to be integral members of the health care team in bridging language and cultural gaps between patients/clients and health care providers.  Further enhancement of interpreting skills learned in Health 80 covering specialized health care service areas such as genetics, mental health, and death and dying. Emphasis also on the development of cultural competencies in the community.   Upon completion of this course, students will be able to: demonstrate knowledge of managing the flow of the interpreting session and mastering of  these skills through classroom activities and examinations, identify health issues, practices and beliefs of specific ethnic communities, identify strategies and cultural sensitive approaches in working with diverse cultures, demonstrate knowledge of cross-cultural communication., gain a broader perspective in the different health care service areas, increase health care related terminology, identify strategies in self-care and demonstrate skills in the development of a portfolio.

Health 82 consists of field work and classroom simulations focused on application of knowledge and technical interpreting skills learned in Health 80 and Health 81.  Workplace and career interpretation will be explored more broadly. Upon completion of this course, the students will be able to: discuss and demonstrate understanding of the interpreter roles and the scope of practice relative to other health care professionals in the assigned agency., discuss and demonstrate competence in elements of workplace, culture and professionalism: time management, reporting and accountability, maintaining personal and professional boundaries, apply skills learned to the field work setting(s): conflict management, cross-cultural communication, and technical aspects of interpreting, identify specific areas for self improvement needed for interpreting in health care settings.

Does this program have any special costs?

Students should expect to spend between $100 to $150 in books and materials.  Additionally, internships are generally offered only during “business” hours, so students may need to take unpaid leave from other employment during that time.

How long will it take to complete this program?


Time to Complete*

HCI Certificate

2 semesters

*Based on full-time attendance or 12 units per semester

How do I get more information on this program?
Health Education Department:  Ocean Campus, Cloud Hall 363. Tel. 415-239-3220
Nora Goodfriend-Koven MPH, Program coordinator, Email, Phone: 415-452-5158