Frequently Asked Questions
Because the demand for skilled interpreters far exceeds the number of qualified professionals, nationally certified interpreters are able to find work all over the United States. Credentialed interpreters are constantly in demand in educational settings from pre-school through graduate school. These interpreters are part-time or full-time employees of their school district or university, and are often employed with benefits. Qualified interpreters are also in demand in medical, legal, mental health, theatrical, governmental, and religious settings, among others. Interpreters may be on staff in these settings, they may work through an interpreter referral agency, or they may be privately contracted.
According to the United States Occupational Outlook Handbook, the job outlook for Interpreters and Translators will increase by 19% (much faster than average) (September 19, 2019, Bureau of Labor Statistics). As ITP graduates and Interpreting program students complete their training, they should continue to pursue mentorships and internships to improve language proficiency and work towards certification. Qualified interpreters proficient in the language and interpreting will be able to look for job assignments in their area.
Interpreters will either work solo or with teams. New interpreters should expect to work with a mentor to begin their first assignments. The client and setting will determine how many interpreters will be present.
Sign Languages differ between each country, from British Sign Language, French Sign Language, Spanish Sign Language, etc… American Sign Language Interpreters should expect to work wherever there is an English-ASL Interpretation need for the ASL/English fluent clients.
There are, however International Sign interpreters. The demand for these is sporadic, and tends to be associated with events that attract international audiences, such as the World Federation of the Deaf, the Deaflympics, WASLI, and so on. WASLI has a program for those interested in IS certification.
If you have to ask, it most likely isn’t a good fit for you.
Learn ASL, become fluent in the language. Become a part of the Deaf community and learn the culture. Immerse yourself in the communities you will be a part of and the communities you serve. Find an Interpreter Training Program (ITP), preferably CCIE Accredited.
Many interpreters find part- and full-time employment in colleges and universities, hospitals and clinics, government agencies and corporations. But many more interpreters are independent contractors who book work directly with businesses or agencies, or through public or private referral agencies. When anyone — a local business, a hospital or private doctor, a police station, attorney, or court — requires interpreting services, the request is placed with the local referral service and a call goes out to interpreters on the referral service roster. Some assignments are for just one appearance; others might be ongoing for a week or once a week for several months.
You name it. In a dental office, on the phone, on a construction site, in a museum, at a birth, in an auto shop, in a classroom, at a resort, at a conference, in a SCUBA class…. Anywhere where people need to communicate.
Oftentimes, yes. Interpreters can have one job or several jobs during the course of a day or week, and of course, they have to get there. Some interpreters enjoy conference work for the opportunity to travel to other cities or other countries. And some prefer to work for a video relay service where they can be in one place and serve people the world over.
Depending upon how referral works in your particular area, you may be paid directly by the person or business who made the request, or by the referral agency that hires you.
Because the demand for skilled interpreters far exceeds the number of qualified professionals, nationally certified interpreters are able to find Interpreters pay taxes according to whether they are employed on staff or self-employed (or both). We’ll leave these details to you and a tax consultant!
One of the most satisfying aspects of interpreting is that you can pretty much make it whatever you want. If you like flexibility, like to be your own boss, like making a difference in the world, you may be able to find great satisfaction in the interpreting field.
You’ll find this answer suits a lot of interpreting scenarios: It depends! Some folks decide to become interpreters right out of high school or after years raising kids. In order to become a nationally-certified interpreter, you must have a college degree but it does not need to be in interpreting. There are many more AA programs, but most require 2-3 years of fluency in ASL before embarking on the interpreter education program. Bachelor degrees also want to ensure over 2 years of ASL fluency before entering their program. And there are a few Masters programs as well. It really depends on your geography, ability to pay or take out loans and what your post-education goals are.
It is highly encourage that individuals learn the language and culture with those around you who are immersed in the Deaf community. By learning the language in a 2D setting online, you will not learn the fundamental skills of the language and the needed tools to progress and succeed. While there may be online ASL courses you can take, to best learn and understand the language, look for in-person classroom instruction and events with your Deaf community.
Yes! You may find colleges that offer both of these degrees. The best way to see if the college you are interested in has both degrees, contact their administrative offices to inquire about the degree components. Be aware that Interpreting and Deaf Ed. degrees are very different and are not inclusive upon one another. Each will require different pathways and classes to complete.
Yes, you may use the Find an Education Program tool on RID.org.
The best way to learn ASL and immerse yourself in the language is to become involved with your Deaf community. Find Facebook Meet Ups, ASL Social events at your local coffee shop, or sign up for “MEETUP” (meetup.com) and start getting to know the people in your area. Find a network and start branching out, you will probably learn more about the education opportunities nearest to you.
Currently, there is no federal requirement for certification. Instead, each state sets its own standards, sometimes through laws and regulations, for interpreter qualifications. We have a state-by-state summary of regulations that can help you determine what the requirements are in your state.
To become nationally certified through RID, interpreters must take the NIC written and performance exams, administered by CASLI.