Specialization courses for medical translators and interpreters

Greater than 11 minutes, my friend!

Medical translators and interpreters are needed both in clinical and business environments. They are normally required to possess a degree in translation or foreign languages with a specialization in medical subjects, but there are also bilingual physicians or medical assistants who work as translators or interpreters in the medical field.

While some countries don’t have set education requirements for hospital interpreters, others do. For example, in the United States you can certify with the National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters (CMI) to gain access to working opportunities as an interpreter in this field.

Medical interpreters usually work at:

  • Dental offices
  • Home health care agencies
  • Hospitals
  • Imaging centers
  • Mental health facilities
  • Nursing homes and long-term care facilities
  • Physician offices and group practices
  • Surgical centers

Translators who work on medical subjects often specialize in a specific field (e.g. Pharmaceutical Investigation, Medical Devices, Medical Publishing/Writing, Healthcare, etc.) and may be responsible for the translation of:

  • Applications
  • Clinical trial documentation
  • Instructions for the use of medical equipment
  • Pharmacological instructions
  • Physicians’ diagnoses
  • Reports
  • Written patient information

Apart from the necessary linguistic training, a thorough understanding of specific medical terminology is indispensable.

In some countries, there are explicit processes to become a medical translator and/or interpreter. In the United States for example you can certify with the National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters. In Europe, some universities offer medical specializations during your graduate studies or entire Master’s or other long-term programs in this area. Here in Europe, a few examples are as follows:


Bridging the Gap offers a 40-hour introductory course at several sites in the US and some international locations, and is organized by The Cross Cultural Health Care Program.

Associations such as IMIA, Tremédica or EMWA also provide information on official and continued education training.

If there is no official way to get certified where you live, or you are already certified but want to go on training yourself in your specialization, you might be interested in the following options you can access online and free of charge:

  1. A Glimpse into Occupational Health and Safety
  2. A Nurse’s Guide to Children’s Agricultural Safety
  3. Active Learning with Technology: Myths, Magic and Mucho Motivation
  4. Acute and Chronic Rhinosinusitis: A Comprehensive Review
  5. Adolescent Involvement in HIV Prevention Trials
  6. Advanced circulatory system physiology
  7. Advanced endocrine system physiology
  8. Advanced gastrointestinal physiology
  9. Advanced hematologic system physiology
  10. Advanced muscular-skeletal system physiology
  11. Advanced nervous system physiology
  12. Advanced Neurobiology I
  13. Advanced respiratory system physiology
  14. After-Action Report, a fillable chart for Public Health Performance Evaluation
  15. Ageing Well: Falls
  16. AIDS: Fear and Hope
  17. Air Quality and Environmental Noise
  18. Alzheimer’s Disease 101
  19. An Introduction to Global Health
  20. An Introduction to Population Health
  21. An Introduction to the U.S. Food System: Perspectives from Public Health
  22. Analysis and Interpretation of Public Health Data, Part 1
  23. Analysis and Interpretation of Public Health Data, Part 2
  24. Anatomy of the Abdomen and Pelvis; a journey from basis to clinic
  25. Anatomy: Know Your Abdomen
  26. Antimicrobial resistance – theory and methods
  27. Antimicrobial Stewardship: Managing Antibiotic Resistance
  28. Antimicrobial Stewardship: Optimization of Antibiotic Practices
  29. Application of Surveillance Principles to Food Safety
  30. Applying Ethical Frameworks during Severe Pandemic Influenza
  31. Autism 101
  32. Autism and Related Disorders
  33. Autism Spectrum Disorder
  34. Bacteria and Chronic Infections
  35. Basic Biostatistics Concepts and Tools
  36. Basic Emergency Preparedness for Staff of Community Health Facilities
  37. Basic Food Safety
  38. Basic Infectious Disease Concepts in Epidemiology
  39. BBC Inside Health
  40. Best Management Practices for Animal Research Worker Safety
  41. Better Conversations with Aphasia
  42. Beyond ‘Add and Stir’: Engaging Diversity in College Classrooms
  43. Bioelectricity: The Mechanism of Origin of Extracellular Potentials
  44. Bioprinting: 3D Printing Body Parts
  45. Building Bridges across the Professions: Promoting Successful Intraprofessional Collaborations
  46. Can Champions Be Made?
  47. Cancer and Medical Terminology
  48. Cancer Clinical Trials: Practical Tips to Improve Asian American Participation (CME)
  49. Cardiovascular Responses to Exercise
  50. Career 911: Your Future Job in Medicine and Healthcare
  51. Caries Management by Risk Assessment (CAMBRA)
  52. Case Studies in Personalized Medicine
  53. Cause and Effect in Epidemiology
  54. Chemical Hazard Awareness for Public Health Workers
  55. Child Abuse Recognition, Investigation, and Protection
  56. Child Care and School Environments: Settings for Obesity Prevention among Youth
  57. Child Survival
  58. Childbirth: A Global Perspective
  59. Childhood Obesity 101
  60. Climate Change and Health
  61. Clinical Kidney Transplantation
  62. Clinical Management of HIV
  63. Clinical Research Training On-Line
  64. Closed POD (Point of Dispensing) Partnership Training
  65. Collaboration and Communication in Healthcare: Interprofessional Practice
  66. Communicating with Patients after Adverse Events
  67. Community Change in Public Health
  68. Community Change in Public Health
  69. Community Health Nursing
  70. Community Healthcare Disaster Planning in Minnesota
  71. Compassionate Care: Getting it Right
  72. Confronting Gender Based Violence: Global Lessons for Healthcare Workers
  73. Congenital Hypothyroidism: What Every Primary Care Provider Needs to Know
  74. Contact Investigation (Public Health Emergency Training Series)
  75. Control Strategies for Chemical or Biological Hazards
  76. Control Strategies for Physical Hazards
  77. Crisis Code: Teaching Crisis Management Skills to Enhance Management of Advanced Cardiac Life Support
  78. Crisis Intervention during Disaster (Public Health Emergency Training Series)
  79. Cross-Cutting
  80. Cultural Diversity, Health Disparities, and Public Health
  81. Culture and Health Literacy: Beyond Access
  82. Culture and Health Literacy: Case Studies
  83. Current events in health and medicine
  84. Decontamination (Public Health Emergency Training Series)
  85. Dementia and Diversity in Primary Care: A Primer – Guidelines, Ethnic Differences, and Assessments
  86. Dementia and Diversity in Primary Care: Latino Populations
  87. Design and Interpretation of Clinical Trials
  88. Detecting Bioterror (Forensic Epidemiology)
  89. Diabetes – a Global Challenge
  90. Diabetes 101
  91. Dignity and Respect
  92. Disaster 101: An immersive emergency preparedness and crisis leadership workshop
  93. Disaster Behavioral Health
  94. Disaster in Franklin County: A Public Health Simulation
  95. Disaster Sanitation
  96. Disease Surveillance (Public Health Emergency Training Series)
  97. Diversity and Succession Planning
  98. Domestic Violence 101 
  99. Drug and Alcohol Abuse
  100. Drug Discovery, Development & Commercialization
  101. Drugs in Fitness and Sport – Clean or Jerk?
  102. During and After a Disaster
  103. Ebola : Vaincre ensemble!
  104. Ebola Virus Disease: An Evolving Epidemic
  105. Ebola: Essential Knowledge for Health Professionals
  106. ECG Assessment: an Introduction for Healthcare Providers
  107. Economy and Health: What is the Role of Public Health?
  108. EHO-Air Supply and Pollution
  109. EHO-Food Safety
  110. EHO-Housing
  111. EHO-Introduction to Environmental Health Online
  112. EHO-Land
  113. EHO-Pest Control
  114. EHO-Water Supply and Waste Water
  115. EHO-Workplace
  116. Elderly Patient Advocate
  117. Eliminating Trachoma
  118. Emergency Animal Sheltering
  119. Emergency Management and Preparedness Planning for Community Health Center Leaders
  120. Emergency Preparedness Training for Hospital Clinicians
  121. Endocrine system diseases
  122. Engaging Communities in Public Health Research, Practice and Policy
  123. Environmental Justice
  124. Environmental Public Health Tracking 101 (Tracking 101)
  125. Epidemic! (An online game)
  126. Epidemics in Western Society Since 1600
  127. Epidemiologic Methods II
  128. Epidemiology and Control of Infectious Diseases
  129. Epigenetic Control of Gene Expression
  130. Ethical and Social Challenges of Genomic and Precision Medicine
  131. Ethical Challenges in Public Health Interventions: Catastrophic and Routine
  132. Ethics and Public Health in an Age of Terrorism
  133. Evaluating Childhood Obesity Policy Impact In School Settings
  134. Executive systems of the brain
  135. Family Disaster Planning 
  136. Family Planning and Reproductive Health
  137. Fixing Healthcare Delivery
  138. Food Protection
  139. Forensic Psychology: Witness Investigation
  140. Foundations for Assisting in Home Care
  141. Foundations for Global Health Responders
  142. Foundations of Public Health
  143. From Research to Practice: Connecting Principles of ‘Smart Teaching’ to Emergency Preparedness and Beyond
  144. Fundamentals of Clinical Trials
  145. Fundamentals of Clinical Trials – Online Training
  146. Fundamentals of Patient Safety
  147. Fundraising 101
  148. Gastrointestinal system diseases
  149. Gender and Health
  150. General Environmental Health
  151. Genomic Medicine: Transforming Patient Care in Diabetes
  152. Genomic Technologies in Clinical Diagnostics: Molecular Techniques
  153. Genomic Technologies in Clinical Diagnostics: Next Generation Sequencing
  154. Genomics: The Connection to Public Health Practice
  155. Global Adolescent Health
  156. Global Health and Humanitarianism
  157. Global Health: An Interdisciplinary Overview
  158. Global Outbreak: A Public Health ICS Simulation
  159. Global Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR)
  160. GlobalHealthX.1: The Practitioner’s Guide to Global Health – Part 1: The Big Picture
  161. GlobalHealthX.2: The Practitioner’s Guide to Global Health-Part 2: Preparation and On The Ground
  162. GlobalHealthX.3: The Practitioner’s Guide to Global Health – Part 3: Reflection
  163. Good Brain, Bad Brain: Drug Origins
  164. Good Brain, Bad Brain: Parkinson’s disease
  165. Good Clinical Practice (GCP)
  166. Good Clinical Practice Training
  167. Good Distribution Practice Training
  168. Good Manufacturing Practice Training
  169. Good Pharmacovigilance Practice Training
  170. Good Research Practice (developed by MRC Head Office)
  171. Hazardous Materials
  172. HazMat Transportation Incidents: Using the Emergency Response Guidebook
  173. Healers’ Healing and Resiliency in the Aftermath of Disaster
  174. Health care system
  175. Health for All through Primary Health Care
  176. Health in Numbers: Quantitative Methods in Clinical & Public Health Research
  177. Health Informatics on FHIR
  178. Health Policy/Ethics
  179. Health Promotion and Adult Education
  180. Health Systems
  181. Health Technology Assessment
  182. Health/Wellness Capstone Project
  183. Healthcare Delivery Providers
  184. Healthcare Marketplace
  185. Healthcare Marketplace Capstone
  186. Hematologic system diseases
  187. History of Occupational Health and Safety
  188. History of Terrorism
  189. HIV Vaccine Trials
  190. HIV/AIDS
  191. HIV: Prevention, Diagnosis, Treatment
  192. Housing Sanitation and Safety
  193. How to Avoid Injury and Illness
  194. Human anatomy and physiology
  195. Human Factors and Safety
  196. Immigrant Health Online Module
  197. Implementing Incident Management in Your Health Care Facility
  198. Improve Departmental Processes with the Public Health Performance Evaluation Primer
  199. Improving Access to Mental Health Services: The Affordable Care Act
  200. Improving Team Performance in a Public Health Response
  201. Improving Your Image: Dental Photography in Practice
  202. Infection Prevention in Nursing Homes
  203. Infectious diseases
  204. Infectious Diseases
  205. Informed Consent
  206. Innovating Solutions for Aging Populations
  207. Inside Cancer: How Genes Influence Cancer Development
  208. Institutions and Licensed Establishments
  209. Instructional Methods in Health Professions Education
  210. Integrative Global Leadership: Leading Across Boundaries for the Common Good
  211. Interprofessional Healthcare Informatics
  212. Intro to Statistics
  213. Introducción a la Salud Pública
  214. Introduction to Biostatistics
  215. Introduction to Biostatistics 2: Variables
  216. Introduction to Breast Cancer
  217. Introduction to Business Continuity Planning for Disasters and Emergencies
  218. Introduction to Cataract Surgery
  219. Introduction to Dental Medicine
  220. Introduction to Diagnostic Medical Parasitology
  221. Introduction to Epidemiology
  222. Introduction to Ethical Frameworks for Public Health Emergencies and Disasters
  223. Introduction to Healthcare Information Systems
  224. Introduction to Management in Public Health
  225. Introduction to Patient Safety
  226. Introduction to Population Health
  227. Introduction to Public Health
  228. Introduction to Research Ethics
  229. Introduction to Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
  230. Introduction to the Biology of Cancer
  231. Introduction to the Culture of Safety
  232. IRAS
  233. Isolation and Quarantine (Public Health Emergency Training Series)
  234. Issues and Trends in Occupational Health and Safety
  235. It’s More than Money: Making the Business Case for Occupational Health and Safety
  236. Lab values and concentrations
  237. Leading Healthcare Quality and Safety
  238. Literature and Mental Health: Reading for Wellbeing
  239. Liver Transplant: the Ins and Outs
  240. Logistics: Strike Teams, Asset Management and Supply Distribution
  241. Long-term Care Facilities: Emergency Preparedness Plans
  242. Major Depression in the Population: A Public Health Approach
  243. Making Babies in the 21st Century
  244. Malaria and Alzheimer Diseases
  245. Managing Shoulder Pain in the Clinic: What to Look for and When to Intervene
  246. Mass Dispensing Sites: A Primer for Volunteers
  247. Mass Dispensing: A Primer for Community Leaders
  248. Mass Fatalities (Public Health Emergency Training Series)
  249. Maternal Health
  250. Measuring and Valuing Health
  251. Measuring Health Disparities (DL) MHDID0806
  252. Medical Humanity: Engaging Patients and Communities in Healthcare
  253. Medical Neuroscience
  254. Medical Technology and Evaluation
  255. Medical Terminology
  256. Medical Terminology 101
  257. Mental health
  258. Minnesota Disaster Response: Lessons Learned in 2007
  259. Minnesota Responds Medical Reserve Corps: An Online Orientation for Volunteers
  260. Moving Beyond HSEEP (Homeland Security Exercises and Evaluation Program), creating well- functioning teams for preparedness response
  261. Muscular-skeletal diseases
  262. NCLEX-RN practice
  263. Neonatal Health
  264. Nervous system diseases
  265. NeuroID ELearning
  266. NIMS (National Incident Management System) and ICS (Incident Command System): A Primer for Volunteers
  267. NORA Symposium: Occupational Health of Immigrant Workers: Reducing the Disparities
  268. NUTR101x: Nutrition and Health Part 1: Macronutrients and Overnutrition
  269. Nutrition 101
  270. Nutrition and Wellbeing
  271. Occupational Safety and Health
  272. Oh, the Places you’ll go: Providing Care in Non-Traditional Settings during an Emergency
  273. One Health 101
  274. Online Behavioral Interventions
  275. Online Medical Terminology Course
  276. Operationalizing Quality Improvement in Public Health
  277. Optimizing Antimicrobial Therapy with Timeouts
  278. Outbreak at Watersedge
  279. Outstanding Physical Education Lessons
  280. Palliative Care: Making it Work
  281. Personal and Family Emergency Preparedness
  282. Personal Preparedness
  283. Personal Safety and Health for Emergency Responders
  284. Perspectives on Disability
  285. Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Innovations
  286. Planning and Budgeting for Public Health: Part I – The Business Plan
  287. Planning and Budgeting for Public Health: Part II – The Budget
  288. Planning for and Engaging Special Populations in Emergency Preparedness
  289. PODs (Points of Dispensing): Public Health Training for Staff and Volunteers
  290. Point of Dispensing Planning: Training in a Virtual World
  291. Potable Water
  292. Preparedness & Community Response to H1N1
  293. Preparedness & Community Response to Pandemics
  294. Preparing Employees for a Disaster in the Workplace
  295. Prescription Drug Misuse and Addiction: Compassionate Care for a Complex Problem
  296. Preventing Chronic Pain: A Human Systems Approach
  297. Preventing the Zika Virus: Understanding and Controlling the Aedes Mosquito
  298. Program Development
  299. Program Evaluation
  300. Protecting Our Food System from Intentional Attack
  301. Psychological First Aid
  302. Psychological First Aid (PFA) Tutorial Mobile App
  303. Psychological First Aid: A Minnesota Community Supported Model
  304. Public Health Policy and Advocacy
  305. Public Health Preparedness and Emergency Response
  306. Public Health: Telling the Story Using Data
  307. Pulling It All Together: How Do We Address Childhood Obesity?
  308. Radiation Protection
  309. Radiological Hazard Awareness for Public Health Workers
  310. Ready? Set? Test? Patient Testing is Important. Get the Right Results
  311. Recognition/Assessment: Chemical and Biological Hazards
  312. Recognition/Assessment: Health Assessment and Employee Selection
  313. Recognition/Assessment: Physical and Psychosocial Hazards
  314. Research and human tissue legislation – Updated
  315. Research and human tissue legislation assessment – England, Wales & NI
  316. Research and human tissue legislation assessment – Scotland
  317. Research Data and Confidentiality
  318. Research Ethics Evaluation
  319. Responder Self-Care Mobile App
  320. Rethinking Ageing: Are we prepared to live longer?
  321. Risk Communication for Community Health Centers
  322. Risk Communication: Public Engagement in Public Health Practice
  323. Road to Resilience: Bouncing Back! The Remarkable Attribute Called Resilience
  324. Road to Resilience: Building Community Resilience to Disasters
  325. Road to Resilience: Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  326. Road to Resilience: Preparedness Pays Off: The 2011 Measles Outbreak in Hennepin County
  327. Road to Resilience: Protecting Animals in Disaster
  328. Road to Resilience: Risk Communication Principles and Challenges
  329. Root Cause and Systems Analysis
  330. Safe Opioid Prescribing and Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies (REMS)
  331. Screening and Assessing Depression in Primary Care Settings: Clinical and Ethical Considerations
  332. Screening and Assessing Depression in Primary Care Settings: Clinical and Ethical Considerations
  333. Service Transformed: Lessons in U.S. Veteran Centered Care
  334. Smarter Eating For Better Performance
  335. So You Want to Be a Leader in Health Care
  336. SonoDoc: Case-based Learning in Bedside Ultrasound
  337. Special Medical Needs Shelters
  338. Special Populations (Public Health Emergency Training Series)
  339. Sports Concussion Education
  340. Stanford Introduction to Food and Health
  341. Statistical Reasoning for Public Health 1: Estimation, Inference, & Interpretation
  342. Statistical Reasoning for Public Health 2: Regression Methods
  343. Statistics for Medical Professionals
  344. Statutes and Regulations
  345. Strategies for Successful Ageing
  346. Strength and Resiliency: Emergency Preparedness for Tribal Leaders and Program Directors
  347. Supporting People Living with Long-term Conditions
  348. Systems Science and Obesity
  349. Systems Thinking In Public Health
  350. Take the Lead on Healthcare Quality Improvement
  351. Teaching Basic Bedside Transthoracic Echocardiography Examination to Evaluate Hypotension and Hypoxemia
  352. Terrorism, Preparedness, and Public Health: An Introduction
  353. The American Disease: Drugs and Drug Control in the USA
  354. The Basics of Exercise Programs for Older Adults
  355. The Challenges of Global Health
  356. The Constitutional and Legal Basis for Public Health Actions
  357. The History of Public Health
  358. The Many Faces of Dementia
  359. The New Nordic Diet – from Gastronomy to Health
  360. The New Science of Change – Connecting Leadership Development and Neuroscience
  361. The Off-Site Care Facility-An Alternate Care Site: A Primer for Volunteers
  362. The Science of Global Health Implementation
  363. The Science of Medicines
  364. The Science of Nutrition
  365. The Science of Safety in Healthcare
  366. Theory and Practice of Occupational Health and Safety
  367. Thinking Critically: Interpreting Randomized Clinical Trials
  368. Threshold Limit Values
  369. Time Management: Your Time, Your Priorities, Your Choice
  370. To Screen or not to Screen? Methods and health policies through case studies
  371. Tracking in Action: Workforce Implementation
  372. Training and Learning Programs for Volunteer Community Health Workers
  373. Translating Data into Public Health Priorities
  374. Ultrasound Imaging: What Is Inside?
  375. Understanding and Improving the US Healthcare System
  376. Understanding Clinical Research: Behind the Statistics
  377. Unsafe Acts/Unsafe Conditions
  378. Vital Signs: Understanding What the Body Is Telling Us
  379. Weight Bias & Stigma: Implications for Healthcare and Health Promotion Efforts
  380. Wellness Coaching: Powerful Skills for Everyday People
  381. Whole Genome Sequencing: Decoding the Language of Life and Health
  382. Working in a Point of Dispensing (POD)
  383. Writing in Science
  384. Zoonoses (Public Health Emergency Training Series)
  385. Zoonoses, Vectors, Pests, and Weeds
  386. Zoonosis, Preparedness, and Public Health

Recent courses Sarah medical

12 thoughts on “Specialization courses for medical translators and interpreters

    1. Thank you Dmitry 🙂 It actually took me a couple of weeks. I have been working on clinical trials for a couple of years now but didn’t have anything “official” to show that I knew about the subject so I started to look for options online and found out that there was a lot of material, but it was actually kind of overwhelming. So when I finally had an overview of what was available, I decided to publish the information as a post so that others wouldn’t have to go through that process. I hope this will be useful!

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  1. This list is really helpful, thanks for putting it together! Would you mind answering a couple of questions about the Johns Hopkins ‘Design and Interpretation of Clinical Trials’ online course? I’m interested in it but couldn’t find any information on the course website about how many hours per week it would take and how long the assignments take – could you give me a rough idea?

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    1. Hi Charlotte,

      Thank you! The assignments are tests, so they don’t take really long to complete but they are not easy either. I had to repeat the first one in order to pass. The others were OK. It didn’t take me super long to go through the material either, but I’m also pretty familiar with the subject, so I guess it depends on how much you’d have to look up/ repeat/ know already, etc. All in all, I’d say I maybe spent like 20 hours to complete the entire course. I hope that helps. Let me know if you have any further questions and I’ll try to answer them 🙂

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      1. Thanks, Sarah! That’s very helpful. Just one more question – do you have to complete the tests within a particular time frame or just at any point over the course? I’ve got a trip away planned in July and don’t want to have to commit to doing a test on a particular day.

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        1. Hi Charlotte,

          I’m not 100% sure about this. I pretty much did the whole course in 10 days rather than in 6 weeks because I had time at that moment. So what you sure can do is finish the tests earlier than required. But I don’t know exactly if there is a penalty if you complete them late (I think not for this one, but there surely is some information about this on the syllabus page once you enroll). Some courses also save your progress if you want to switch to a different date (most courses on Coursera are available at several dates throughout the year). I hope that helps 🙂

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  2. Sarah, thank you for this comprehensive list and the images of your certificates! Could you provide the full name of the online course you took at the NIH Office of Clinical Research Training? It’s only partially visible on the certificate, and I couldn’t find it on the NIH training website. I did locate the Good Clinical Practices course on the NIDA Clinical Trials website and plan to take it soon. If you have taken any other courses on clinical trials that you found useful, I’m sure many translators would appreciate it if you could post the course names here. Thanks again!

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    1. Hi Roxane,

      Thank you, I’m glad this is useful 🙂

      Here’s the link to the NIH Clinical Research Training course: link to crt.nihtraining.com. And here’s the link to the NIDA course in case someone’s still missing it: link to gcp.nihtraining.com.

      This site is pretty good too but didn’t mention it here because their courses aren’t MOOCs. The courses are taught in person at different European sites and you have to pay a fee. Link: link to eccrt.com.

      Whenever I find interesting training opportunities, I also post them to my ‘Translation Biz’ board on Pinterest so I can reference later: link to es.pinterest.com

      Report comment

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