by Winnie Heh

Group of interpreters around a table

In this recording of an online discussion, we review the career outlook for Spanish medical and legal interpreters in the U.S., including compensation data and career management frameworks.

We also look at the Institute’s Professional Certificate in Spanish Community Interpreting as a path to launching your career as a community interpreter.

Career Outlook for Spanish Community Interpreters

Patricia Szasz:

Good afternoon, everybody. Welcome to our webinar today on Careers in Community Interpreting. My name is Patricia Szasz. I’ll be your host today. I’m the associate dean of language and professional programs here at the Middlebury Institute, and I’m joined by two of my colleagues, Winnie Heh who is going to be our guest presenter. Winnie is the career advisor here at the institute for students in translation, interpretation and localization management program. She’s a wonderful resource that we have on campus.

We’re also joined by my colleague, Marilu Bonilla. Marilu is our learner services coordinator and she manages the application process for students who are interested in joining our professional certificate program in Spanish Community Interpreting.

Okay. So we’re going to go ahead and go over the agenda for today. We’ve introduced your panel. I’ve talked about the webinar features and I’m about to turn it over to Winnie to talk about the career outlook specifically looking at medical and legal interpreting within the US.

I know we did have a few people that are joining us from other countries. We’re happy to have you in the program or in the webinar today. And then we’re going to talk about the professional certificate in Spanish Community Interpreting and I’ll open it up to questions and answers. So we’ve scheduled this for 60 minutes and we’ll be finishing up no later than 1:00 Pacific Time. With that, I’m going to flip it over to Winnie’s presentation and turn it over to Winnie.

Winnie Heh:

Great. Next slide please. Hello and welcome. First of all, I’d like to tell you a little bit about myself. I am a graduate of the institute and as you can see from this slide, in the last 30 years, I’ve worn many different hats in the language industry. I’ve been an interpreter myself, a translator myself. I’ve taught interpretation and I’ve spent 25 years in the language services industry having a variety of roles and I returned to the institute five years ago to become a career advisor and currently I am a board member and the board secretary for the California Healthcare Interpreting Association.

Next slide please. So in terms of the agenda, I will cover three big areas. One is I want to talk about how we think about career management in terms of a career management cycle. This is actually applicable for all careers, but later on I will talk more specifically about our profession. And then I think one of the questions that has come up a lot from the applicants for this program is the compensation data in terms of what are we seeing in terms of the earning ability of those who are in this industry. And then finally I will end with a framework for pivoting.

Next slide please. When I talk about career management with my colleagues and my students, I’d like to use the analogy of the train track. As you can see here, the train track has two rails. And for students coming to school, I impress upon them that if you want to stay on the right track, you need to solidly landing on both rails. If you’re landing on one rail, you’re going to tip over, right? Okay? In the school environment one rail is your technical training, your educational preparation. And the other rail is your career management. From the first day you are admitted, you’re already in the profession. And so that’s the right time to start thinking about your career management.

Next please. The first thing I want to emphasize is think about two rails. It’s not just about learning your technical skills. The most successful people have both the technical skills and great career management skills. So that’s one. That’s next please. Next thing I’d like you to remember is as you can see from the train tracks here, they merge and switch from time to time, right? And so it’s important to know that career management is a lifelong effort. It’s not a one-time effort. And this is a particular applicable thought process for those of you who have worked and now are looking to this as an opportunity for you to perhaps merge and switch.

It’s also applicable because of the time we’re in right now. We’re going through this horrific pandemic right now. All of us are affected in different ways and things are going to change and some people say the new normal will not be the same as the old normal. So this is really a good time to reflect and think about how we can merge and switch.

So next slide please. In terms of a career management cycle, I talked about the importance of having great career management skills. But how do you do it, right? I think the good thing is a lot of very smart people have thought about this issue for a long time and admits we think about it this way. We think about your career as a cyclical process. You have to go through this cycle many times in your career because if you don’t, you’re not growing. And I use myself as an example. As you could see from my introduction, I’ve worn many different hats, and the reason I wore many different hats is because I was evolving and reinventing myself all the time.

I worked for the same company for 25 years in the language services industry, but within those 25 years, I went through this cycle many times. So the important thing is even if you work for the same organization for a long time, do not stop to evolve. So how does this cycle go? The first is at the top. You look at the green box, self-assessment. I think the fact that you are participating in this webinar, tells me that you’ve gone through some kind of sales assessment that tells you I need to explore. And the self-assessment can come in the form of taking a test, an assessment or talking to people or just your own reflection.

Then the next step is once you have reached a certain conclusion about your self-assessment, it’s time to explore your options. And again, the fact that you’re in this webinar tells me that you’re exploring this as an option which is great. And this is a time where you want to kind of cast your net wide and look at as many options as possible. And once you look at many options, you want to start narrowing down because if everything is a good opportunity then nothing is a good opportunity. You need to start narrowing things down using an analytical process to narrow it down.

And again, this is a time where it’s great to talk with trusted advisors and friends. And then the next piece is okay, once you’ve decided on the direction, how do you market yourself? And in terms of marketing yourself, there’s a scientific piece and there’s the art piece.

So next please. In terms of the science behind marketing yourself, there are some things that you can learn the best practices about how to write your resume, how to write your cover letter and how to create your social media presence. And the good news is we live in the era of Google, right? If you just type in resume or cover letter, you’re going to literally see millions of entries. So there’s no lacking of information. You have to make the effort to go look.

Then the next please. Next is the art. When I survey my student and ask them, what do you think is the most difficult part of this career management cycle? Two things stand out consistently. One is networking and the other one is compensation negotiation. It’s understandable about compensation negotiation because most of us for whatever the reason, we’re not comfortable talking about money. So that’s a different story. But networking, most people are not comfortable networking.

What I tell my students is I think if you’re not comfortable with networking, you’re probably thinking about networking the wrong way. Networking is not about taking, networking is about giving. That’s a whole big topic on itself, but there’s a marketing piece you need to think about. And then job search, right? Where do you look? How do you look, right? How do you find out more about the organization and about the position?

And then the final piece is how do you know how to get to the right level of compensation. Are you getting a fair offer, right? How do you negotiate to maximize your earning, right? Once you get there, you lend the job, you do the job and it’s important to know that the cycle starts again. Never stop there.

Okay. So that’s the career management cycle. Next I would like to transition to the piece about compensation. I’ve done some research on your behalf and I’d like to share with you. Okay, next. I like to start with compensation for court interpretation and this data is a bit dated. This is about 2014. A retired court administrator in New Jersey by the name of Robert Jolie compiled all this information at around 2014.

This is the federal court compensation. Just broadly speaking in court interpretation, there is a federal court certification and right now Spanish is the only language where the federal court conducts the testing. There’s a written portion, there’s the oral portion. Once you’ve passed the exam, I think the compensation as you can see here by state is quite rich. Actually, this is at the very high end of the whole community interpretation field.

So this is a great area to think about and the test itself is very challenging. But once you pass it, it’s great. Okay. So next slide please. So now I’m using California as an example. As you can see, we have information here by county. Overall, the salary range, if you work in-house as a staff interpreter, it’s in the $70 range annual. If you work as a contractor, the hourly rate is about $40. The information I presented for the federal court and for the superior court of California, all of this is public information. If you’re interested, I encourage you to go do a web search and you’ll find this kind of information.

Next slide. A good place to find further information is indeed.com. This is a website that does not require any kind of membership. Anybody, you can just type in Indeed right now and start searching. And it also has the ability to allow you to search by your geographic location. This is a good resource. So what I did was late last year, I went to Indeed.com and I typed in court interpreter and this is what I saw. Based on the data they have, the average is about $61,000.

So that gives you a directional feel for the compensation level for court interpretation. And also bear in mind, the compensation will vary by region. For example, for California and for New York for example, you can expect the compensation to be a bit higher and for some of the other states where cost of living is lower, you can expect the compensation to be lower.

Okay. Next slide please. So I want to give you a feel for what I saw last year in terms of job posting that came across my desk. So you can see here, I’m giving you three examples. Alameda County in California, they were recruiting last year and you can see the range of compensation. New Mexico, the federal court in New Mexico advertised last year. You can see the range is 61,234. And then Texas, you can also see, it’s a federal court system. You can see the compensation level.

Okay. Hopefully, that makes it real for you. Okay. Next, I’d like to transition to medical interpretation. IMIA is the International Medical Interpreters Association. They have conducted salary surveys from time to time and here’s the information from 2015. First, I’d like to share with you kind of the demographics of the interpreters who took the survey. As you can see, over 50% who responded to the survey work in the hospital environment. And in addition to working in the hospital environment, the interpreters can work in clinics and in health departments. There are a variety of opportunities.

Okay. Next slide please. In terms of the salary range, what they found was the average hourly rate was $26. And again, this covers the whole country. It could vary by region. The next slide is quite interesting. Next slide. So one of the things they asked the respondent was their level of jobs that is satisfaction. And you can see, the job satisfaction for the medical interpreter is very high. So that is great.

Okay. So next slide. Again, I went to indeed.com and I type in medical interpreters. And you can see, the average hourly rate is $25. So what we can conclude is from the data that we have, court interpreters at this point seem to be getting a higher hourly rate, the medical interpreters based on the average rates that we’re seeing.

Next slide. Again, to make it real, I want to share with you three samples of the jobs that were posted last year. The first one is LA County. You can see the range. Next is Contra Costa County. You can see the range. And then University of Washington. And another thing I want to point out is when you compare compensation of course you look at the annual salary. You also want to think about benefits. And the reason I point that out is when you look at the county, the two county positions, the annual salary may not seem as impressive, but you want to consider the kind of benefits that you get from working at the county. I have some friends who work for the county, the benefits are great.

I mean, of course at different points of your career and of your life, you value different things. Some people may value benefits more than the others, but all of those things need to be taken into consideration.

Okay. So that’s medical. Now, I want to go next to talk about the importance of pivoting. As I mentioned earlier, when you think about the career management cycle, it’s a cycle. Never stop. You need to keep reinventing yourself because this will bring about growth and this will also help you diversify. Diversify your opportunities. When we talk with financial advisors, when they’re advising us on saving for retirement, they will always tell us that you need to diversify. Don’t put all your money in the stock market or don’t put all your money in savings account. You need to diversify. So as you think about these opportunities, also think about diversification, okay?

Okay. So next I’d like to share with you a framework for pivoting. How do we do that? First as I said, you start with your self-assessment. You want to think about your beliefs and your values, okay? And then you want to think about your strengths and your challenges so that you can identify where the best fit for you will be. And the next is in terms of goal setting. This is where from my experience, coaching my colleagues and now coaching students, this is where I found to be most challenging for individuals who are thinking about pivoting.

Because if you have a goal, but you don’t have a plan. Then it’s just a wish and a wish is not a strategy. So when you think about your goal, you want to think about it systematically. You want to think about what are my professional goals? What are my personal goals? And what are my financial goals? And for me, the sweet spot is when you find overlay of all three different areas. And of course life is not perfect. You cannot always find that ideal sweet spot, but at least strive to find overlay of two different areas, okay? And also, our goals will change as time goes on. So I urge you to think about your goals in terms of three years, five years, 10 years, 20 years, and by the time you retire.

A rule of thumb I give to my students in the first day of the orientation, I ask them, “Okay, take the number 65, minus your current age. Assume that’s how many years you’re going to work and then you set your goals. Think about your career accordingly.” And as I said earlier, goals without a plan, just a wish, right? So it’s important to set specific plans. And the framework here I’d like to share with you is smart goals. Many people know this, right? You want it to be specific and you want it to be measurable, and you want it to be attainable. Realistic and time-bound.

Okay. I want to pass the federal court interpreter’s exam. When? Set a goal and then work backwards. Okay. So that’s my kind of brief overview. I’m happy to take questions. Now, back to you, Patricia.

Patricia Szasz:

Thank you so much, Winnie. I’m going to go ahead and flip back over to our other presentation. Before we dive into the program information, we are taking questions. Please add your questions to the q a feature in the webinar. We’ll take those questions after we go through the next section which we’re going to cover what does our professional certificate in Spanish Community Interpreting look like. Before we do that, I thought it would be nice to do a little poll. I’m going to ask you all whether you have… Maybe after seeing Winnie’s presentation and seeing what the career outcomes look like for us, legal and medical interpreters you’ll have an answer to this.

Which specialization are you interested in? Are you interested in medical? Are you interested in legal? Maybe at this point, you’re not sure. So it looks like people are either undecided or they’re leaning towards medical. We got 29% for medical and 17 for legal. We just wanted to briefly go over the structure of our professional certificate in Spanish Community Interpreting. The first question that came in actually asked what is the difference between a certification and a certificate.

So this is a certificate. Institutions of higher education can provide certificates. They don’t typically provide certifications. A certification is provided usually by a government agency or a professional association. So on the court and legal interpreting side, certifications are provided usually at the state and federal level by the court systems. In the medical side, medical certification is provided by medical interpreter associations. Winnie sits on the board of CHIA, the California Healthcare Interpreters Association. I don’t think they provide their own certification, but there are two nationwide associations in the United States.

So frequently people will ask us about our program whether or not you get a certification from this program. And I will say no, because institutions of higher education do not provide certification. You must pass an assessment. Winnie mentioned the court certification exams written and oral exams the federal government provides those for the federal court system for instance. So our program is going to cover some of that for you, but it’s not a test preparation program.

So certainly all of our instructors in the program have become certified, they’ve taken those tests, they’re familiar with them, but the program is going to be a skill-building program that prepares you for careers in medical and legal interpreting. It is not a test prep program. So while we talk about what the exams look like, that’s not the main focus of the program. So it’s a hybrid program. It runs for 10 months. The next cohort will join us at the end of August. It will run through June of 2021. And the way this hybrid program works is that you do four modules online and then you come to us in person hopefully in Monterey in June of 2021. And here is the curriculum map.

So we have each online module, which is eight weeks long. The first module is basic interpreting techniques. Then you move into community interpreting as a profession. So for instance, basic interpreting techniques eight weeks online will run from August until October, then you get a week of break then you move on to the second module which is community interpreting as a profession, which goes from October to December. Then you get a nice long break over the holiday and then your break.

Over that time, it’s time to decide on your specialization track. Do you want to go down the legal track or do you want to go down the medical track? They are parallel tracks so we’re teaching the same kinds of skills but with different content. If you choose legal track, you’ll continue on two more modules online in the spring between late January and May. Legal concepts and terminology and written and sight translation of legal texts.

Same on the medical side. The people teaching in these courses are practicing interpreters in those settings. So all of our faculty in the program have real life experience in doing this work. At the end of the program, after you’ve passed those four online modules, we come in person and do an intensive workshop on interpreting with your cohort and with your faculty here in Monterey. So this is great because you can do this program while you’re working, while you’re managing your family, juggling all of your responsibilities. For online modules between august and may, come to us for a beautiful week. June is a wonderful time to be in Monterey, California. Come visit us for one week. Total cost of the program is $5,000.

What’s the admissions criteria? Application is open right now for admission into the fall cohort. Again, that starts August 24th for this year. You must have completed high school or the equivalent to be 18 years of age. And then we ask you to take a language and skills test that will be reviewed by our faculty to confirm that you have bilingual proficiency in Spanish and English.

How do you apply? Go to our website at go.miss.edu/sci for Spanish Community Interpreting. The application fee is $50. We have an online application. We’re going to ask you a little bit about your background. What drives you to the program? Why are you interested in doing it? What kind of experience might you already have? It’s okay if you don’t have a lot of experience already. You’re going to upload your CV or resume. And once you’ve finished and completed that application, then we’ll send you the link to the language and skills test, which you will complete and it will be reviewed by your faculty. Our priority deadline for applications for this fall is coming up on June 1st.

So if you would like more information about this program after the webinar, please feel free to contact us. We’re all working remotely right now. You can tell we’re all in our houses at the moment because we’re in shelter in place, but we are still working and we can answer your questions particularly. If you go to our website, you can submit queries and questions there. You can email us. Marilu, are you actually able to answer the phone or is it voicemail right now?

Marilu Bonilla:

So probably we can always set up a time. So if you shoot me an email, we can set up a time to talk. Sometimes the incoming calls, I don’t get notified but I’m more than happy to talk over the phone. So if you reach out, we can set up a time.

Patricia Szasz:

Thanks, Marilu. Okay. So we’re going to go ahead and we’ve got some questions coming into the QA. We’re going to answer those questions. The first question is, “I remember that initially there was an education track in addition to legal and medical track. Is that no longer an option?” That is true. We actually used to have a longer program in which you did everything. You did legal, medical and social services, and we found that most people like to specialize so we have decided to specialize in the places that have the most jobs, and that’s legal and medical interpreting. We don’t have an education track at this time. The next question is what is the breakdown of the smart goals. So I’m going to turn that over to Winnie to remind us.

Winnie Heh:

I was just typing a written response. So it’s specific, measurable, attainable realistic and time bound.

Patricia Szasz:

Thanks, Winnie. And if you google smart goals, you’ll find it there as well. The big one for me is measurable. Something that you can actually measure. So give yourself some kind of quantitative way to know that you’ve achieved that goal. I’ll also mention that we are recording this session, so if you want, anybody who has registered for it, will get the link to the recording and you’ll be able to watch it again.

Okay. The next question is do people usually specialize in one of the fields? I’m looking for the education field, but I would like to add medical. So maybe, Winnie, you could also help us with that question.

Winnie Heh:

Is it for me, Patricia?

Patricia Szasz:

Do you think that people specialize in one like medical or educational or legal or do people do multiple different specializations?

Winnie Heh:

I think typically people start by not specializing, and then as time goes on, based on the opportunities available to them in their area, based on their own interests, they will specialize. Personally, I would encourage you not to lock into a specialization too early.

Patricia Szasz:

Okay. The next question is can a full or part-time student at MIIS pursue the graduate degree as well as the hybrid certificate at the same time? Technically, yes. You could do both. The graduate degree has its own tuition structure and credit structure and admissions criteria, and the certificate that is a professional certificate has a different set of characteristics. So you could do them separately. However, I’ll also mention that for those folks who do our master’s degree in translation, interpretation for Spanish have the chance to do electives in legal and medical interpreting.

This is not a certificate. It’s not a specialization, but there are electives in the program that are very similar in content. In fact, some of the faculty are the same faculty like the medical interpreting faculty are the same folks. So if you’re doing the whole master’s program, you do have the opportunity to take courses that look specifically at medical and legal interpreting in that program. I hope that answers that question.

The next question is does MIIS have resources available to students seeking financial aid? And I might just turn this over to Marilu to answer that question if she’s willing to do so.

Marilu Bonilla:

Yeah. So in terms of financial aid, so we have a payment plan. You can have a pay-as-you-go option. So every time before you start a course, you pay $1,000. And so it would be about a payment every three months. And also, if that’s an option for you, we also have the other option of if you pay in full, you get a 10% discount at the beginning. So those are your two options.

Patricia Szasz:

Thank you, Marilu. So technically, this is a professional certificate. It is not a degree, therefore it does not qualify for federal financial aid. There have been people who have gotten personal student loans to do the program and in your jurisdiction there may be government support for doing the program. So for instance, there are some jobs programs in different states. They’re called workforce development where if you’re trying to retrain into a new job, they might give you money to retrain. Some employers have continuing education benefits for students.

So those are the kinds of options, but we do try to make it as affordable for people as possible by offering these two different payment options. Again, just to reiterate $5,000 for the whole program. You can choose to pay as you go, $1,000 for each course. You pay about at once every two, three months. Or if you pay in full at the beginning of the program, you get 10% off, so you pay 4,500 instead of the full $5,000.

What level of language command should one have upon entering the program? Is it C1 or C2? I can’t specifically answer that question because it’s up to our faculty to determine your language proficiency and they don’t actually do it based… The C1, C2 is based on the Common European Framework. I’m not sure that they are doing it that way. What I will say is that typically right now, they understand that people’s B language like if you’re a native speaker of English, your Spanish will not be at the same level. So they might conditionally admit you based on your language skills and ask you to continue working on those language skills.

I will also say that we are a little bit more flexible in terms of language proficiency than we are with the master’s program. So the level of proficiency that is required to get into our master’s degree program is higher than the level that’s required to get our certificate. So what I would just say is for $50, you can apply and do our language test and get the results. Most people that we’ve seen who have gotten through that test, I’m not going to guarantee admission, but most people tend to either pass with flying colors or they’re considered somebody who the faculty are going to ask to keep working on those skills.

So I don’t have a specific answer to that question I’m afraid. The next question is what does the schedule look like? We know that people are busy. This is a professional program where people have full-time jobs typically than families. So the idea is that you’re not going to spend more than 10 hours a week working on the program. In fact, most people we survey at the end of each course, they say that they work about four to six hours a week.

So the sweet spot for us is that you’re spending about five hours a week, but we are revamping the first module a little bit this year in the fall. So the first module is basic interpreting techniques. We’ve been trying to keep this program as asynchronous as possible meaning that you do it in your own time at your own… Not at your own pace because each week, you do have assignments. But that you do it when you’re available.

However, the faculty feel like you need more practice on the interpreting side from the beginning. So that first module is going to have mandatory synchronous sessions every week. We’re going to try to span time zones with those sessions so that people can be sure to join them even if they’re in different time zones. But you’re going to get a lot more in a synchronous live sessions going in the first module because we want you to start building your interpreting skills. Those will typically happen at night on the US time zones. So both Pacific and East Coast time zones.

We’ve currently got students only in the us right now from Puerto Rico to California. So we are managing those time zones. This year, we’re allowing enrollment from people who are overseas. So we’re also going to be looking at supporting time zones particularly Latin America.

The next question is do we have the opportunity to get foreign language courses as well during this program? You would have time to do foreign language courses during the program. We don’t include that. We do assume that people already have the language proficiency in Spanish and english to do the program. Your faculty might be giving you ideas about how to continue to build your language skills in your B language, but the focus is not on foreign language. I’m not sure if that answered your question, Diana but I hope it answered your question.

The next question is, “Does the program start every year from August? Can I start in spring?” For now, we’re still kind of new to the program. It’s been running for a couple of years. We don’t have enough people to run it twice a year at this point so we are only starting it once a year in August. We have had some people who start the program and something comes up in their lives and they have to suspend. And if that’s the case, we have people who might have done the first two modules and then something happened in their lives and they just couldn’t continue the program. You can come back and finish the program later.

We also have people who say, “I actually am interested in both medical and legal interpreting. Could I do both?” And this wasn’t the question, but I’ll just mention that we designed the program because of people have very busy lives. One course at a time is probably best. If you have a full-time job and a family to manage, then doing one course at a time is probably enough. Some people have decided to go through the entire program for legal track and then come back the next year do medical track. We haven’t seen anybody try to do both at the same time although technically it is possible if you have the time in your life to do it.

The next question is how many times do you meet for the modules for instance Monday through Friday or twice a week and also are you supposed to log in online at a particular time. So again, the way we have designed the program, we know that most of the people in the program are working full-time with a lot of responsibilities. We try to minimize the amount of time you have to be online at a particular time. The exception to that is going to be the first module, basic interpreting techniques where we got feedback that people wanted more practice on interpreting.

So that particular one we’re going to ask you to come to sessions once a week, but we’re going to try to span time zones to ensure that people are able to join based on their time zone. So that first module will be a little heavier in terms of the the live sessions and then as you go, you’ll be asked to do work on your own. Like we said, the sweet spots four to six hours a week up to 10 for some people or for some assignments. But we understand that you’ve got a busy life and you’re trying to fit this into your life.

Also, the next question kind of are the online classes synchronous or asynchronous? We use the Canvas Learning Management System. Canvas with something, you’ll have a Middlebury account log in do your assignments. There are going to be asynchronous activities like watch a video from your professor, do a discussion forum with your classmates. But again, a little bit heavier, synchronous sessions, live sessions in the very first module.

One person asked if there are scholarships available. Unfortunately no. We don’t have scholarships available, but we do have some ideas for you in terms of how you might find funding for the program. We’ve tried to keep this at a reasonable price, $5,000. It’s a great investment in your career. As Winnie showed us, these are lucrative careers for people who have the skills. So we consider this $5,000 investment a good investment in your career.

The next question is would you accept OPIs as an acceptable language assessment for entrance to the program? I’m going to say, “We’re not going to allow OPI’s because OPI stands for oral proficiency interview and it is an actual standard for language proficiency, but we have our own custom language and skills test that we use because it actually is going to test your skills in Spanish, written and spoken. Your skills in English written and spoken and then your cross-transferring skills between the two languages.

So you actually do a little bit of translation and interpretation in the test. So I’m not saying you couldn’t submit your OPI score with your application, if you want it to include it. So we have a sense of what your proficiency is and we’re still going to ask you to take our own test.

Okay. I’ve been talking a lot. So in the next question, I’m going to turn over to Marilu which is what is the deadline date.

Marilu Bonilla:

So the deadline date is June 1st.

Patricia Szasz:

Thank you so much, Marilu.

Marilu Bonilla:

You’re welcome.

Patricia Szasz:

I’m just double checking our time. So it’s 12:37. We still have some time. “Will a recording of this presentation be available and if so, may we have the access?” Yes, you’ve registered for this webinar and that registration entitles you to the link to the recording. So you will get a link to the recording after our session today. Oh, it’s so funny. How many spots are available in the program? If you qualify for this program, we will admit you and we will most likely put you in the program. We have a limit in terms of the number of students we want in a course which is 20.

So in the first two modules, we wouldn’t want to have more than 20 people in those courses. What happens is you specialize and then you go into a track and in the tracks, you’ll end up in a smaller group. If you take the medical specialization, the medical track will have half the students in it and the legal track will have half the students. So there’s no limit to the number of spots although if it turned out that 21 people qualified for the program, we might put one person on a waitlist and most likely somebody would decide they couldn’t do the program and then we would let you into the program. So I wouldn’t worry about there being a limit to the number of spots.

The next question is, “Could we have a head start to learn Canvas and Panopto?” Okay. So Canvas I mentioned is the learning management system and Panopto is a recording system that we use so people can submit recordings on themselves doing their interpreting practice. Thank you for the question. Basically, what we’ve tried to do is build in some orientation to all of this at the first module. So rather than have you do it beforehand, we’re going to have you do it as a group with your professor and also a TA.

We usually hire a TA to help with the technical side of things. So as a student in the program, you do have access to everything that a student at the Middlebury Institute has. You have access to support from our digital learning folks, support from our ITS information technology folks. So we do build in what they call online learner training at the beginning of the program. We also do a small orientation to everything prior to the launch of the program in August.

Do you have recommendations on how to prepare for the entrance exam? We do and they’re on our website. There’s actually a video that one of our professors did about how to prepare for the language and skills test and I don’t have that link with me off the top of my head right now, but we can share it with you. I don’t know, Marilu if you might be able to find it while we’re still in session here. But there’s-

Marilu Bonilla:

Yeah, I’ll go ahead and find it.

Patricia Szasz:

There’s a nice video that one of our professors did about kind of what to expect at least on that. The next question is, “If I did want to do both of them, would that double the tuition?” It doesn’t exactly double the tuition and the tuition is $5,000 because you take five classes and each one is $1,000. If you decided to do both tracks that adds three classes onto your whole certificate program and so that means another $3,000. So rather than doubling it, it’s another 3,000 which totals $8,000.

“I’m finishing a certificate in T&I in another school with a specialty in education. Can I validate some courses to do just the medical part of the certificate with you guys?” Yes, that would be something that our faculty would determine. So if you wanted to apply for the program and submit all the credentials that you already have, our faculty would probably ask to speak with you and figure out whether or not it makes sense for you to waive some of the classes like you were asking probably the first two modules and then just track into the medical in the spring.

“Do you guys have payment plans and scholarships? I’m wondering because I’d like to apply for a fall, but money may be a challenge.” So just to reiterate, I’m going to have Marilu reiterate that answer to that question. Marilu gets the fun questions.

Marilu Bonilla:

So, yeah. So the option we can offer you is a payment plan. So $1,000 about every two months where you pay as you go for each course. Or if you want to pain full, we offer a 10% discount at the beginning so you could pay 4,500 if you pay in full at the beginning before the course program starts.

Patricia Szasz:

Thank you, Marilu. So again, we have tried to design this so that it makes it easy enough for you. I understand it’s still a lot of money, but that we spread out the payments if that’s the way you’d like to do it.

Okay. Do these courses have college credit? This program is known as a professional certificate. It’s a professional development program. It is not an academic program. So as I was talking about the admissions requirements. We’re not asking you for transcripts. We’re not asking what your GPA is. We do not require that you have a bachelor’s degree. It’s a professional program therefore you will earn a transcript that shows that you have attended and passed the courses from the Middlebury Institute. You will get your professional certificate, but these are professional development units. They are not college credit.

Now, that doesn’t mean that some college might give you some partial credit for what you did in the program. That’s what’s nice about having a transcript. You’ll be registered for these courses, you’ll get a transcript from the Middlebury Institute and then you can talk with the the transferring institution about whether or not they would provide you some credit. But because this is not an academically focused program, it’s a professional program and we don’t have academic criteria for admission, we don’t issue degree credit for this program.

“I have a certificate in T&I already. Could I validate some courses if I want to get a bachelor’s degree?” This program again is a professional certificate so it’s not a bachelor’s degree. The institute generally doesn’t provide a bachelor’s degree in translation interpretation. We do master’s degrees only graduate level and therefore I don’t think that we’re the institution to provide that for you. I know that there are other schools in the United States that do issue bachelor’s degrees in translation interpretation and so they’re probably better suited to help you with that question.

Do the online modules include live interaction via Zoom call with other professors and students? Yes, this is the synchronous aspect of the program. We try to minimize the live sessions because people are on different time zones and they’re very busy, but as I said before in the first module, you’ll be doing a lot of weekly live sessions with your classmates and your professor to work on your interpreting skills.

“What options do I have? I’m on a J-1 as an au pair to start the program. Do I have to get a visa? I’ll end my second year in December.” Marilu and I were just discussing this question this week, but I will go ahead and answer it. This program is not going to issue student visas because it’s an online program and people are not required to enter the United States to do the program. Our master’s program is a face-to-face program where people come into the United States and therefore they need an entry visa from the US government.

The way this works is that you’re online from August until May and then you’re going to come to us for five days in Monterey, in California, in June. We have double checked everything with our international student services office and there is no study visa requirement to come for a five-day professional workshop. Most people who are sitting outside the United States with non-US citizenship will come on a business visa.

So if you’re coming just for that week of residency in June, you can enter on a business visa which is the B-1 visa for the United States. Some countries also participate in what’s called the Visa waiver program for the United States. So for instance Chile and Spain participate in the visa waiver program. And that allows you to come into the United States for 90 days by paying for an electronic travel authorization. So in this program, in terms of your J-1, you would need to talk with the person or the agency that issued the J-1 to you because it’s up to them whether or not you can study in another program on that visa.

Are there any books that need to be purchased? No, we don’t require any books to be purchased, but we do want to recommend that you have the technical equipment to be able to do the program which includes a good internet connection, a very strong internet connection, computer that you can use to access our systems, a headset and microphone that are very good quality because you’re going to be on live sessions, but you’re also going to be recording yourself. And so either your laptop has the built-in webcam and microphone or we actually prefer that you buy a nice headset with a microphone because you’ll be practicing you’re interpreting online.

Would you recommend a student who’s in university at the moment to pursue this program? I think it could be a nice addition to a university degree because it will give you some very marketable skills. I don’t know Winnie. I know you’ve been sitting there listening. If you want to chime in on this in terms of what you think about a person who’s currently pursuing their university degree.

Winnie Heh:

Well, I think it really depends on your career goals, right? If after your college degree you want to pursue a community interpretation career and to the extent that right now in your bachelor’s degree program, you are not getting this type of training, then this will certainly help you. But it really depends on what career path you want to take.

Patricia Szasz:

Thank you, Winnie. And Winnie you said you wanted to answer the question about the medical interpreter certification exam.

Winnie Heh:

Yeah. So the question here is do we still need to take the national medical interpretation certification exam after taking this course? Patricia indicated that you get a certificate from this program. This program is not a certification like the certification that you you earn from CCHI or MBCMI, right? There are two national certification exams. And whether the hiring organization requires the certification exam, the decision is made at the organization’s level. Personally, in most situations I’ve seen the hiring organizations prefer that you have one of the two national certification qualifications. I have not seen that as a requirement. Those certification exams can be helpful, but I haven’t seen that as a requirement.

Patricia Szasz:

Thank you, Winnie. The questions keep coming in and unfortunately we are running out of time. So I’m just going to mention a couple of extra things and then remind you to contact us with your follow-up questions. The platform we use again is the Canvas Learning Management System. And someone asked about the structure of the language and skills test. It’s outlined on the website. So if you go to our website for any information about the program, go.miis.edu/sci for Spanish Community Interpreting. You will see a link to language and skills test.

It goes over what the different parts of the test are at that link and you can also submit your questions, your additional questions on our website. There’s an inquiry form that you can fill out. Marilu will stand by and she and her team will be there to answer your questions. Go ahead, Marilu.

Marilu Bonilla:

And also the link that Patricia was talking about, I included it in the chat. So it’s right there. It’s the first link I included and then I include a second link that goes over the different course states. So someone asked about the June residency dates. They have been determined. And if you go to that link, you’ll see the breakdown of when each course starts, so it hopefully helps you better.

Patricia Szasz:

So I’m going to wrap things up because our time is up. I want to thank our panelists Winnie and Marilu for their help and their advice and information. I want to thank all of you for being here and participating with us and your engagement, and your interest in this field. There’s a huge need for people to do this work and it’s now in this crisis moment more than ever, people need to do this kind of work. So we’re excited that you might be a part of it. Thank you for being here and feel free to follow up with us and ask any questions you have. Have a great afternoon, or evening, or morning, or wherever you are. Thanks, guys.

Marilu Bonilla:

Bye.

Patricia Szasz:

Bye.

 

For More Information

Winnie Heh
yheh@middlebury.edu
831.647.3531

Words at Work

by Sara Thurber Marshall

What does it take to be a translator and interpreter for a drug task force in New York City? Middlebury Institute alumna Lucía Falcón Palomar MATI ‘17 is featured in the Winter 2020 Communiqué.