How to Become a Sign Language Interpreter

Sign Language InterpreterMany ASL students aim to become an interpreter for the deaf. However, these students don’t just become an interpreter by signing up for some programs. They have to go through various training, educational courses, and even volunteer work for them to be qualified as an ASL interpreter.

Educational Requirement

Currently, the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) had set the educational requirements for certification to be that the interpreter should have a bachelor’s degree or an associate‚Äôs degree. It doesn’t matter what field it is in. While it may be true that you can have any degree in any field, you still have to prepare yourself well for the exams. For that, it is highly recommended that you take up a two-year or a four-year degree in ASL interpreting.

ASL interpreting is popular choices for ASL students. You can take them in colleges or universities that offer intensive ASL interpreter training courses. To make the search easier for you, try checking up on the RID website. The said website is a database of interpreter education programs. It should be easy for you to find interpreter training program listings here.


To be able to get an interpreting position, it is imperative that you get a certification. It is especially recommended that you get your National Interpreter Certification (NIC). This is a test jointly given by the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) and National Association of the Deaf (NAD). The certification will require you to go through a written test, an oral interview, and a performance test.

The National Interpreter Certification (NIC) is not the only certification that you should get if you are vying for certain interpreting positions. There are times that the state you are in will also require you to pass specific certifications. Sometimes, what certification you should get depends on the work environment or setting you to plan to interpret.

Work Experience

It is necessary that you gain work experience as much as you can. After all, this is what will allow you to perfect and hone your sign language interpretation skills. To gain more work experience, consider signing up for a sign language group. You may also consider tutoring American Sign Language students. Another option you can take is to volunteer for interpreting services at community events. Don’t forget to consider working for community organizations. A popular workplace that you should take into consideration is the American Red Cross.

There is a logical reasoning why you should gain work experience through these methods. Most of the ASL sign language interpreting jobs available these days that pay well require you to have at least two years worth of work experience. At times, you are even required to have five years. If you wish to increase your pay grade or be open for more job opportunities, gaining work experience is a must.

Duties and Responsibilities

As an interpreter, you will be using a combination of facial expressions, fingerspelling techniques, and body language to communicate with a hearing person and a deaf individual. You can provide the basic expressive interpretation which translates voice to sign language. You may also utilize the Signing Exact English (SEE) method.

It is up to you whether or not you will specialize in tactile signing. This particular technique involves having to manually sign directly into the individual’s hands. The tactile signing technique is designed to communicate with the deaf and blind individuals.

Another technique to consider specializing in is oral interpreting. This technique is designed for those deaf individuals who can read lips rather than signs. Oral interpreting is also commonly called as lip reading.