What does a Sign Language Interpreter do?

Learn all about Sign Language Interpreter duties, skills and much more. Get expert advice on how to become a Sign Language Interpreter.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 3 min read

A sign language interpreter is a person who translates spoken language into sign language and vice versa.

Sign Language Interpreter job duties include:

  • Attending meetings, conferences, and other events to interpret spoken language into sign language and vice versa
  • Consulting with clients to discuss interpreting needs and preferences
  • Arranging for appropriate interpreting equipment as needed
  • Coordinating schedules with clients, agencies, and other interpreters
  • Maintaining confidentiality of client information
  • Keeping up to date on developments in the field of sign language interpretation
  • Studying new vocabulary and terminology related to a client's field or industry
  • Practicing interpreting regularly to maintain proficiency
  • Attending workshops and continuing education courses to improve skills
  • Networking with other interpreters and potential clients

Sign Language Interpreter Job Requirements

Sign language interpreters must have a high school diploma or equivalent. They must also complete a rigorous training program and pass a competency test. In addition, they must have experience working with deaf or hard of hearing individuals.

Sign Language Interpreter Skills

  • Bilingualism
  • American Sign Language
  • English
  • Interpreting
  • Communication
  • Listening
  • Cultural Competence
  • Flexibility
  • Professionalism
  • Ethics
  • Knowledge of Deaf Community

Related: Top Sign Language Interpreter Skills: Definition and Examples

How to become a Sign Language Interpreter

Becoming a sign language interpreter is a process that requires both formal training and a passion for helping those who communicate using sign language. Here are four steps to becoming a sign language interpreter:

1. Complete a formal training program. There are a number of accredited colleges and universities that offer programs in sign language interpretation. These programs typically last two years and include coursework in American Sign Language (ASL), deaf culture, and interpreting theory and practice.

2. Pass a national certification exam. The National Association of the Deaf offers a national certification exam for sign language interpreters. This exam tests interpreters’ knowledge of ASL grammar, vocabulary, and interpreting skills.

3. Get licensed or registered in your state. Many states require sign language interpreters to be licensed or registered in order to work. requirements vary from state to state, but often include passing an additional state-specific exam and completing continuing education credits on a regular basis.

4. Stay up to date on industry news and trends. As with any profession, it’s important for sign language interpreters to stay current on industry news and trends. This can be done by reading professional publications, attending conferences and workshops, and networking with other interpreters.

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