Sign Language Translation and Interpretation

Read about educational requirements for sign language translators and interpreters, as well what to expect in terms of job growth and salary. Explore what students learn in undergraduate and graduate degree programs related to sign language translation and interpretation.

Is Sign Language Translation and Interpretation For Me?

Sign language interpreters help hearing-impaired individuals communicate with the rest of the hearing world. American Sign Language (ASL) uses hand motions, body language and finger spelling to communicate without verbalization. Because translators deal with written words and ASL is not a written language, 'sign language interpreter' is the proper term for someone who facilitates communication between signers and language speakers.

Career Options

As a sign language interpreter, you may work in an array of different settings, including courtrooms, conference centers, schools and hospitals. Additional opportunities may be found in deaf education, health care, social work or media communications.

Employment and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), interpreters and translators held approximately 49,060 jobs in 2013. Employment was projected to grow by 46% nationwide between 2012 and 2022, or much faster than average for all occupations. The ability for hearing impaired individuals to make calls using video services over an Internet connection is expected to have a positive impact of job growth. As reported by the BLS, the mean annual wage for interpreters and translators was $47,920 in May 2013 (www.bls.gov).

How Do I Work in Sign Language Translation and Interpretation?

Undergraduate Programs

Degree programs in sign language translation and interpretation are most common at the undergraduate level. If you're interested in a career as a sign language interpreter, you can start by pursuing an associate's or bachelor's degree. These programs include the study of ASL, deaf culture and the interpretation process. Coursework emphasizes problem-solving and listening skills and focuses on advanced methods of concentration.

Once enrolled, you'll learn about the theory and process of interpreting, deaf history and deaf-blind interpreting. You'll also find out how to interpret in community settings and study comparative linguistic analysis.

Graduate Programs

A Master of Education in Deaf Education or a Master of Arts in Teaching ASL might help you qualify for an instructional position. Programs at this level may include coursework in service learning, ASL conversation, cross cultural communication and research in interpretation. Professional certifications are available through the National Association of the Deaf and the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf.

Related Articles for Sign Language Translation and Interpretation

View More Articles

Related Videos

  • What Does a Court Interpreter Do? - Video

    Court Interpreters work to translate information from another language into English for the court systems. They work with lawyers, witnesses and defendants to relay information for depositions, hearings and other court cases. Court Interpreters must be fluent in more than one language in addition to having adequate knowledge of legal terminology.
  • How Do I Become an English Teacher? - Video

    English teachers enjoy rewarding careers in education. These teaching professionals can play an important role in building language, analytical and creative abilities in students. At the same time, these educators can inspire young people by cultivating their appreciation for the literary arts. Learn more about becoming an English teacher.
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Southern New Hampshire University

    Southern New Hampshire University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Southern New Hampshire University:

    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Liberty University

    Liberty University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Liberty University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Full Sail University

    Full Sail University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Full Sail University:

    • Bachelor Degrees

    Campus Locations:

    • Florida: Winter Park
  • Regent University

    Regent University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Regent University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Penn Foster High School

    Penn Foster High School responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Penn Foster High School:

    Online Programs Available

  • University of New Hampshire

    Campus Locations:

    • New Hampshire: Manchester
  • Indiana University

    Campus Locations:

    • Indiana: Indianapolis
  • Valdosta State University

    Campus Locations:

    • Georgia: Valdosta
  • Eastern Kentucky University

    Campus Locations:

    • Kentucky: Richmond
  • Oklahoma State University

    Campus Locations:

    • Oklahoma: Oklahoma City