Sign Language Interpreter

Career Overview

Job Description:

  • Sign Language Interpreters translate language from ASL (American Sign Language) to English or English to ASL.
  • ASL is a whole new language with different grammer compared to English. Interpreters must learn this language and the deaf culture behind it in order to correctly translate the meaning and context of a situation.

Skills Needed:

  • Active Listening
  • Critical Thinking (They have to think on their feet in order to quickly and correctly convey a conversation)
  • Coordination
  • Complex Problem Solving (figuring out how to translate the correct context meaning)
  • Multi-tasking
  • Social Communication

Work Areas:

Translators are needed in many social spheres including :

  • Schools (This is the most common place of employment for sign language interpretors)
  • Conference centers
  • Social Services
  • Government Positions
  • Law fields (court room interpretor)
  • Hospitals (interpreting between patients and doctors)

Job Outlook:

  • From 2010 to 2020, the national employment change has an estimated 42.2% increase.
  • This increase is much higher than the national average (which is +13%)
  • Even though the employment rate it increasing, the amount of job openings is still relatively small. (58,400 workers in 2010)


$20-25 per hr.

Average Starting Salary: $25,314

Average Annual Salary: $53,410


  • Your experience with ASL and fluency of translation are key factors for advancement.
  • Translators in a company could be promoted to chief translator or staff directors.
  • Others may advance to becoming a translator editor and check the work of others.

Education Needed:

  • The minimum education needed is an associate's degree but a bachelor's degree is suggested.
  • Many must complete job specific training.
  • A four year degree is estimated to cost $125,740
  • A two year degrees is estimated to cost $34,236

College Options:

  • University of Iowa
  • Indiana University
  • Oklahoma State University
  • Eastern Iowa Community College

Why I Chose This Job:

  • I have always been very interested in Sign Language
  • I know multiple people who went to college for this, or work as an interpreter for the deaf.
  • My cousin knows sign language and taught me a litte.

Works Sited