Deaf Interpreter: Certification and Training Program Info

Oct 12, 2019

Deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals interested in becoming interpreters may pursue training through organizations like the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf. Hearing persons can pursue an associate's or bachelor's degree in sign language interpretation.

Essential Information

Students in sign language interpretation associate's degree programs learn to interpret dialogues, idioms, music, stories and other expressions, and can teach the deaf to translate signs into speech. They improve their communicative abilities by practicing focused listening, text analysis, paraphrasing, distraction filtering, providing feedback and clarity interpretation assessment. Direct experience is gained through an interpretation practicum that could take place in a medical facility, legal, educational or religious setting. Only a high school diploma or General Education Development equivalent is necessary for admission.

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Sign Language Interpretation curricula include more general education units and elective options and teach advanced American Sign Language (ASL). The B.A. is more culturally focused, covering history, literature and film in the community, while the B.S. concentrates on theory and specialized interpretation techniques. Completion of an internship may be required for graduation. Applicants must have a relevant associate's degree and pass an ASL entrance exam. Some schools only require a high school diploma.

Associate's Degree Sign Language Interpretation

Associate's curriculum includes general education units and laboratory courses that involve the recording and analysis of interpretation performances. In addition to ASL conversation and theatre, core subjects include:

  • Hearing anatomy and physiology
  • Exact English signing
  • Transliteration
  • Ethics of interpretation
  • Sign to voice

Bachelor's Degree in Sign Language Interpretation

Bachelor's degree programs can include a rigorous practicum and service learning components. Examples of lecture topics are:

  • Interactive interpreting
  • Deaf culture literature and film
  • Healthcare interpreting
  • Educational interpreting
  • Deaf-blind interpreting

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for interpreters and translators is predicted to increase by 19% over 2018-2028. These professionals earned a median salary of $49,930 as of May 2018.

Continuing Education and Certification Information

Graduates can further their studies with a master's degree in interpreting, where they'll learn theories, practical applications and teaching techniques. Since 2012, only bachelor's degree holders can take the National Interpreter Certification (NIC) exam. Credentials are maintained with continuing education classes. There are also individual state credentialing tests.

Associate's and bachelor's degree programs in sign language interpretation can prepare students to begin work as interpreters in a wide variety of settings. Students who complete a 4-year program are also qualified to sit for credentialing exams.

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