By William Ross
You have probably all heard the questions before, “So you’re studying to be a Sign Language interpreter – is that a really job?”
Or maybe someone has even asked you “You work with Deaf people, so you read braille, right?” (Nope.)
Here are answers to some common questions about what life is like after you graduate from school and look for work as an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter.
Is there still a genuine need for ASL interpreters?
Yes. In fact, more than 90% of graduates from the North Central University American Sign Language Interpreting program are working as Sign Language interpreters or they are working in a Deaf related field. Many interpreters are also working as paid sign language interpreters even without national certification.
Several of them work between 20-28 hours per week in their role as an interpreter. They are earning between $23.00 to $28.00 dollars per hour, which is the accepted rate for pre-certified interpreters. They are also paid a 2-hour minimum, which is industry standard.
Do interpreters work “on call”?
That is up to you. When you become certified, you can take a full-time staff interpreter position with benefits. You can also choose work as an educational interpreter, a full-time position with benefits or you may contract with the public school(s).
You can also contract with the freelance agencies, which allows you to take work according to your schedule and availability. Being an American Sign Language interpreter offers you flexibility to work as much or as little as you would like. Interpreting can also take you into a variety of settings and fields including medical, legal, mental health, religious, and so much more.
How much money do interpreters usually make?
American Sign Language interpreters without certification often earn between $23.00 to $28.00 dollars per hour. But just like in any career, the longer you work the more you make. For example an interpreter with nearly 30 years of experiece could earn approximately $50.00 per hour (with a 2-hour minimum). The base pay for interpreters who have national certification is $30.00 per hour.
The pay gradually increases based on years of experience and types of certification. In addition, there are specialties such as theatrical, legal, and more.
Where do Sign Language interpreters work?
They work everywhere! Interpreters work anywhere people work. Interpreters provide a necessary service to people in the deaf community anywhere that they may be living their lives. This can be at doctor appointments, parent-teacher meetings, therapeutic settings, national conferences, courtrooms, weddings, and even funerals. You name it, American Sign Language interpreters are there!
Is Sign Language interpreting a fulfilling job?
American Sign Language interpreting is an amazing job. Just like spoken language interpreters, it is communicating in a different language. As an interpreter, you are invited into some of the most sacred places in the lives of Deaf people.
You may interpret for the birth of children, weddings, or you may even be present when someone’s life draws to a close.
Also, the interpreting profession is protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act. We provide a bridge of communication between two worlds.
You work with Deaf people, so you read braille, right?
No, actually we don’t. We use American Sign Language. Braille is a representation of a written language for blind people, in which the characters are represented by patterns of raised dots that are felt with the fingertips. Ironically this is a common question.