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Sign language interpreting is a rapidly expanding field. Schools, government agencies, hospitals, court systems, and private businesses employ interpreters. Interpreters work in a variety of settings including medical, legal, religious, mental health, rehabilitation, performing arts and business.
As you begin your journey of discovery into the profession, we hope that you will utilize RID as the go-to resource and consider how RID membership would benefit you at this stage of your development.
Whether you are a beginner, an advanced signer or a Child of a Deaf Adult (CODA), RID is here to help you understand what it takes to become a professional and qualified interpreter. Fascination with sign language and/or the desire to "help" are admirable, but these alone are not qualifications to be interpreting for persons who are Deaf or hard of hearing. Patience, persistence, dedication and professional training are just some of the few key elements that are crucial to becoming a successful interpreter.
Interpreting as a Career
There is a strong need for qualified interpreters with credentials as we are currently experiencing a period in the interpreting field where supply is not keeping up with demand. The greatest demand for interpreters is in medium-to-large cities. The more mobile you are, the more likely you are to find an interpreting job.
Interpreters typically fall in one of three categories
Salary statistics for interpreters is very difficult to find as salaries vary depending on many factors. These include:
You may want to call interpreter referral agencies and school systems to get specific information about the area of interpreting that interests you.
Additionally, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Bureau of Labor Statistics, provides occupational employment and wages for interpreters and translators. This information, which is from May 2003, also includes foreign language translators so it is not a complete and accurate picture of the interpreting field. http://www.bls.gov/oes/2003/may/oes273091.htm
American Sign Language Fluency
How long does it take to become fluent in Japanese, Russian or any other foreign language? Language fluency, be it spoken or visual, requires time, dedication, study, immersion in the language community, and constant practice. While you may have the potential to handle communication of simple concepts of daily life after just three classes, it will most likely take you years to be comfortably fluent in native conversations at normal rates discussing complex topics.
Professional sign language interpreters develop interpreting skills through extensive training and practice over a long period of time. Before committing to this profession, it is imperative that you prepare yourself for the expectations, requirements and standards that will be asked of you.
Below are a few resources that will help guide you along the process:
You don’t have to wait until you are a practicing interpreter to become a RID member. Join today and enhance your networking opportunities within the field of professional interpreting.
If you already interpret out in the community but are not yet RID certified, you qualify to join as an Associate member. If you are a student in an Interpreter Training Program, you can join as a Student member.
If you are neither of the above yet still want to reap the benefits of membership, then join as a Supporting member.
Learn more about RID membership.
If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate contacting RID.
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Members receive discounts on everything from reference materials to the latest book by RID Press - yet another way RID supports your growth as a professional.
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