FAQ for New Interpreters
Education Needed for Becoming an Interpreter

How much education do I need to become an interpreter?

Just like every other career the higher your educational level the better. As an Interpreter, the more education you have the larger your spectrum is to interpret.

I’ve taken some classes in sign language, can I be an Interpreter?

Becoming an interpreter requires at least an Associate degree from an interpreting program. However, most programs are now requiring a bachelor’s degree or higher. Not only is the degree necessary, you have to be extremely fluent, have proper training, field experience, and knowledge of deaf culture.

If your previous classes have thoroughly interested you, maybe it is time to consider taking the steps necessary to become an interpreter. The best place to start is finding a college that offers Sign Language Interpreting. A couple of the most highly regarded colleges include Gallaudet University in Washington D.C. and National Technology Institute for the Deaf (NTID) in Rochester, NY.

I know sign language, why do I need to get a degree?

There is a lot more to being an interpreter then simply being fluent in sign language. Interpreters also need to be professional, have excellent public speaking techniques, and knowledge of the interpreting profession, code of ethics, and deaf culture. Without additional education, these minimums cannot be met.

I've worked as an interpreter before without a degree, why do I need one now?

Like everything else, laws change with time. Professional organizations that serve the Deaf community decided that a certification process was necessary. The primary reason for this was to achieve the “three Q’s” of interpreting, “Quantity, Qualifications, and Quality”. Without these three combined, communication barriers cannot be eliminated.
Getting Certified

How do I get certified?

The Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) is the primary national organization that certifies interpreters. There are also certification/screening systems available for select individual states. Each certification process includes a written test and a performance test. More information on testing procedures and dates can be obtained from the RID website.

Why do I need to pass a certification test?

Without the certification process, there would not be any method to regulate who qualifies for becoming a professional interpreter. In addition, the quality of the translation could not be guaranteed.

How much time does it take to pass the certification test?

Some interpreters are able to pass the Certification test immediately after graduating college. However, the majority require 2 to 4 years of experience in the field after graduation to be fully prepared to pass the test.

How much does it cost to get certified?

The total cost for certification varies depending on what particular certification you are seeking and whether you are a member of the organization or not. If you are not currently a member, the estimated cost for the certification process is around $800. Being a member can save an estimated amount of $200.