Best Practices

How to become a Medical and Scientific Translator?

Medical and Scientific Translation represents a very specialized field, with growing demands for those who are willing to spread scientific knowledge worldwide
Thalita Lima
8 min
Table of Contents

Translation for the medical and scientific field is a highly specialized service. It requires knowledge of technical terms, vocabulary, insight, study, and staying updated on both the scientific world and technological advancements that can assist you in this task.

Due to its complexity, it's not a service that most companies offer.

Looking to offer this type of translation? Great, know that you'll have a competitive edge in a market with high demand. But it requires study and skill development.

Medical Translation Services: What's Involved?

Medical translation is a broad term. It refers to translating documents related to the healthcare field in general, but with complexities at various levels.

For instance, informative pamphlets, brochures about epidemics and vaccines, institutional websites of health organizations and insurance plans, hospital admission contracts… All that have a certain complexity. However, academic research within a specific theme has an even greater complexity.

The target audience for this service can be both patients and the medical community. It's up to the translator to adapt this content. Obviously, if it's for patients, the language is more accessible. You need to translate information to make it useful for the recipient. If it's for healthcare professionals, who are knowledgeable about the topic, the requirements are different.

At Bureau Works, we provide Medical Translation Services and strive to combine simplicity and efficiency. We understand that in the medical industry, accuracy is vital. That’s why service quality must be high. And how do we achieve this?

By using a specific translation memory for the client/project. Well-maintained, this memory guides linguists to make the right choices based on context, improving accuracy. Our program becomes smarter with each project to meet even the most sophisticated requirements of medical translation.

See an example in the images below.

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Scientific Translation Services: What's Involved?

Scientific translation includes a wide range of documents: academic articles, research reports, laboratory manuals, patents, doctoral theses, and regulatory documents.

A new breakthrough in medicine, such as a study on genetic therapies for cancer treatment, needs to be translated for audiences in different countries. You can imagine the importance of efficiency in this communication, right?

Pharmaceutical companies, research institutions, and regulatory agencies often also require accurate and reliable translations of scientific documents to meet bureaucratic requirements and ensure compliance with international standards.

What are the key tips to get started in these areas?

Image by Sara Bakhshi to

There are some valuable guidelines to consider for those looking to pursue this path. We highlighted 7 tips for you.

  • Mastery of Language Pair and Specialized Knowledge

The first step is fundamental for any type of translation: a solid mastery of both the source and target languages. It's crucial for success in any segment, and in the fields of science and medicine, it's no different.

Additionally, it's crucial to have an advanced knowledge of the specific terminology in these fields. This specialized knowledge will not only increase your translation accuracy but also ensure that you can responsibly convey information from the original text.

Education and Continuous Training

Pursuing formal education in the sciences is highly recommended to enhance the specialization of your work.

It's not mandatory to be a doctor or scientist to translate texts in the field; you can also consider hiring consulting services from professionals in the field. But translators who have some degree of education in the field have an advantage.

University courses, graduate programs, or certifications in medical or scientific translation can provide a solid foundation on how the scientific world works and help improve your translations.

  • Keeping Up with Advances in the Field

We're talking about a very dynamic field. New research is constantly being released, discoveries are made, technologies are being tested and implemented. That's why it's important to keep updating yourself.

How? Reading articles in the scientific and medical field, subscribing to specialized media to keep up with news and updates, watching programs and series that bring the scientific and medical world closer and help expand your vocabulary are some strategies.

Familiarity with Computer-Assisted Translation (CAT) Tools

CAT tools are essential allies for professional translators, especially in the fields of science and medicine, where accuracy and consistency are crucial. It's an area that involves a lot of technical responsibility, so it's very risky to do all the translation manually and rely only on the human filter to sift through errors.

Integrating a CAT tool like our BWX, which combines machine automatic translations, translation memories, and glossaries, can significantly increase your efficiency and quality of work.

Glossaries are excellent tools when it comes to specific vocabulary, and you can create one that meets your project needs, saving specialized terminology. But of course, this tool will only be an ally if the human operator has a good approach with the technology involved. The more trained the AI, the better the results.

  • Networking and Collaboration

Participating in translator communities in the field, discussion groups, and events in the field is an excellent way to expand your professional network and learn from other experts. It can offer valuable insights, job opportunities, and mutual support throughout your professional journey.

  • Specialization and Market Niche

Identifying a specific area of specialization within science or medicine can be a smart strategy to stand out in this niche.

Within the scientific and medical field, there are still several segments you can specialize. Focusing on a niche, such as biotechnology, environmental, pharmacology, or genetics, can help you develop a solid reputation and attract clients who value your expertise.

Define your niche and your goals. What kind of projects do you want to translate? With what volume and level of complexity? Having this base notion will help you better sell a proposal and even make more transparent and predictable budgets for clients. Remember: good planning leads to more effective translations.

  • Quality and Responsibility

Last but not least, maintaining high standards of quality and commitment to the accuracy and integrity of the translated text is essential to build a solid career as a translator in the fields of science and medicine. Never underestimate the importance of thorough revisions and continuous pursuit of excellence in your work.

The Role of Specialized Translation in the Dissemination of Knowledge

Image by Vlad Tchompalov to

Scientific and Medical Translation Services play a fundamental role in the global dissemination of scientific knowledge, allowing researchers, academics, and professionals to share their discoveries and advancements in various areas of science.

Imagine that a Brazilian biologist can read about research from a Swiss mathematician and add extremely useful knowledge to advance their project. The global society only benefits from these exchanges!

The demand for specialized translation services is driven by the increasing internationalization of research and scientific collaboration. There is an encouraging horizon for those looking to specialize in the field.

Becoming a translator of science and medicine requires not only linguistic skills but also a deep understanding of the concepts and specific terminologies and intelligent integration of technology into processes.

With dedication, education, and commitment, it's possible to embrace this challenging and rewarding path, contributing to the dissemination of scientific and medical knowledge worldwide.

Thalita Lima
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