This story is a few months old, but is still very relevant. As you know there are many African communities in the Twin Cities; Somalis and Liberians have the largest populations. And there are Oromos, Ethiopians, Kenyans, Ugandans, Tanzanians, etc. There is probably one person from each country.
Right by my office , rather where I work, in uptown Minneapolis there are several interpreter services; many of these are Somali. So it was great to see an article in the Star Tribune that highlighted these.
For many immigrants, who are trying to get on their feet, the wages are not bad:
Healthcare interpreters are expected to abide by a national code of ethics and keep those conversations confidential. They may earn between $16 and $25 an hour.
Since interpreting health care services is sensitive, all interpreters have to get certified. I did not this, as I have been put on an on-call list by an unnamed interpreter agency. They came into the office one day, and asked if I speak Swahili; asked if I was interested in interpreting; and that was that. Now I know.
The University of Minnesota offers a certification class that costs $1000 (eeek!)
The University of Minnesota’s Program in Translation and Interpreting currently offers a certificate in healthcare interpreting in Spanish, Russian and Somali upon the completion of six courses. Tuition is $1,000 for each course, according to Bruce Downing, program director. Although there are no clear standards for qualifications of healthcare interpreters in Minnesota, Downing says there is a bill working its way through the state Legislature that would establish a registry of interpreters and authorize planning for eventual certification.
Read the article in its entirety here.