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How to become an Interpreter? / How much can you earn?

By Lynda Park
(Your Interpreting Maven)

In a message dated 11/21/2007 12:49:47 P.M. Pacific Standard Time, Mervyn G writes:

...Is the only route to becoming a sign language interpreter by enrolling in a college program that typically lasts for two years? What are your suggestions to someone that wants to pursue this field of interest? I can't seem to find any current info on the salary of sign language interpreters in the USA. ... Do you have any current information on salaries for sign language interpreters? Thanks for your help.

Mervyn G.

Hi Mervyn,

I'll try to help answer your question regarding salaries for sign language interpreters, but keep in mind there is quite a range depending of what region of the country you are in. From what I've researched, salaries commonly range from $10,000 to $45,000 depending on one¢s employer, experience, hours worked and location. The national average is somewhere around $43,000 annually. The hourly range is about $15 on the low end, and $50 or more on the high end with certification and specialized skills. In my area of Northern California, it is quite common to work part-time or as a free-lancer earning between $25 and $45 per hour.

As for education, an associate degree is becoming increasingly required by most employers, along with continual education classes and certification. A bachelor's degree will be needed soon to remain competitive in this field. A two year college program isn't the only route to interpreting, but it is the most common and successful way. The interpreter training program (Distance Opportunities for Interpreter Training which Dr. Vicars mentioned I was involved with requires a minimum of a two year degree before acceptance as well.

Your best bet for information on interpreting as a career ca be found through the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) website:
This will give you practical information and link you to other sites which may be helpful. Good luck.

~Lynda Park


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