ID Badges: Don't crowd precious real estate

ID badge

In the last post I introduced the idea of a dress code for medical interpreters.  We'll continue to talk about color selection, what things you should and shouldn't wear and breath.  But there is one thing, one basic thing, that all dress codes need:  The ID Badge.


While it isn’t enough on it’s own, an ID badge is a MUST! If you do nothing else, make sure you have a well thought out name tag. “Hello, my name is Rashelle” does nothing to identify me as an interpreter. You need more.

An effective ID badge should clearly state your name and position.  A head shot is also nice, but not necessary.  Logos and company names are a basic touch to support your position.  If people don’t know who you’re working for, they might not believe you should be there.  

You can find basic name tags at your local office supply store.  Their cost is minimal.  

Don’t crowd precious real estate.  

You only have so much room to share information.  Your ID is not a place to advertise.  Web sites, phone numbers and acronyms of any kind should be left for business cards.  No one will care about these things when you’re interpreting, so don’t put them on your ID.  They’ll only be a distraction.

Zapfino  or  Herculanum?

Keep the font simple.  I love a decorative font as much as the next person.  When you’re on the computer designing your ID, you’ll love how different fonts look up close.  But up close isn’t the issue.  Your ID needs to be easy to read from a distance.  If the words are hard to read, you’ve defeated the purpose of having an ID.

First name only.

For your own safety don't include your last name.  You don’t want to make it easy for just anyone to find you when you’re not working.  And yes, someone will try and find you.  

1, 2, 3 or more?

Unless you’re a staff interpreter, you probably find work as a sub-contractor.  That means that you could be representing a few different companies, depending on the job.  Regardless of who you’re representing, your ID should include their name and logo.  This might mean you have a couple of IDs handy.

If you are working with other interpreters and want to establish a professional ID badge, here are some things to remember:

1.  Have a consistent style guide.  Determine the font, layout or format of the words and images, colors to be used, and the content ie. Names, positions, etc.

2.  Designate a position on your apparel to place your ID.  Keep them away from undergarment areas.  No one wants to look there to see who you are.  That means no putting your badge on your belt.  Lanyards are nice because they are easy and don’t put pin holes in your clothes.

3.  If you choose to use lanyards, make sure they are all the same kind.  Refer to your style guide.

4.  Don't hide your ID.  Make sure it is visible on the most outer layer of your clothing.  If you’re keeping your coat on, don’t keep your ID on your shirt.  

You are a professional medical interpreter!  Never arrive to an encounter without proper ID.  This simple tool will stop people from confusing you with just anyone off the street.

Related posts: