Understanding Sign Language Interpreter Careers

Sign language interpreter careers are different from the average career in several ways. Sign language interpreters typically interact with the clients they serve on a daily basis, and interpreting work schedules vary greatly depending on the path you chose. (See our blogs on full-time sign language interpreting careers and community interpreting careers.)

Social Environments for InterpretersSign Language Interpreter Careers

It’s important to distinguish that sign language interpreting careers do not equate to “chatting” with a D/deaf friend at a local club.  Chatting in a social environment has a lot of flexibility. You have plenty of time. So most people in the conversation are patient to clarify details to ensure the message is understood.

Work Environments for Interpreters

In an actual interpretation, there is not flexibility of time. Hearing and D/deaf clients expect constant and immediate access to information. Additionally, in a social environment typically only one language is used.  For example, when you are chatting with D/deaf peers you are likely not voicing for them and responding simultaneously. You are simply signing back and forth as in a natural conversation. In an actual interpretation, you “sign” to the D/deaf person and “voice” back to the hearing person and vice versa. Think of it as “communication ping-pong.”  The interpretation task takes time, skill, patience, and focus.

Should Interpreters be Provided All Day, Every Day?

It is common for people to think that sign language interpreters follow D/deaf people around to interpret for them. But that is not exactly what happens. Additionally, following D/deaf consumers all day would add up to a costly bill. They also likely do not want an interpreter shadowing them all day, every day.

When to Schedule an Interpreter

Sign language interpreting services are required under ADA law in several venues, such as for business meetings and medical appointments. Day to day activities, such as grocery shopping, however, do not require interpreting services. When a D/deaf person schedules an appointment at their doctor’s office, they inform the office they will require sign language interpreting services. The doctor’s office should contact a reputable sign language interpreting company.  The company will then seek a qualified, certified, licensed professional to interpret.

It’s important to realize that sign language interpreter careers to not equate to the average “9 to 5” job. Instead, they work whenever a D/deaf consumer needs them. At the end of the day, sign language interpreter careers can be very rewarding. (See our blog on sign language interpreting hours and job options for suggestions on potential employment opportunities.)


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Photo Credit:

MT & Associates | Sign Language Interpreting Practice BBB Business Review