Community Sign Language Interpreting Career

There are several outcomes you can expect in a community sign language interpreting career as similarly referred to in our blog about a full-time sign language interpreting career.

  • NOTE: The information provided herein is assumed to be common practice for the Saint Louis, MO Metro area which may vary per location.  As with any employment, be sure to consider your lifestyle and necessary childcare, rate of pay, and use of benefits in your overall financial package.

Why Community Interpreters are Used

First, what does a community sign language interpreting career mean?  Community interpreting typically refers to the interpreting jobs that occur in facilities where sign language interpreting services are either not required full-time or are required to provide an additional interpreter for support.  Below are some examples:

  1. Individual doctor’s offices, or small businesses, often use community interpreters because they do not have enough interpreting work to hire someone full-time. This allows them access to sign language interpreting only as needed.
  2. A hospital or a larger business may have a full-time interpreter on staff, but sometimes they cannot cover all interpreting needs.  In this case, they use community interpreters as support staff.

What does a Community Sign Language Interpreting Career look like?

community sign language interpreting careerAny certification level can have a community sign language interpreting career.  Community interpreters will generally will have a variety of work since schedules are not always consistent day in and day out.  This is beneficial for interpreters who do not want to go to the same place each day.  There are a variety of position types for available for community interpreters.

  • Agency Full-time or Part-time Employee: Some community sign language interpreting career positions are salary based and some are based on hours worked.  Employee positions usually come with a benefits package, and taxes are paid jointly by the business and employee.

Employees usually get a schedule of jobs that fall within business hours for each day.  This is convenient so
that interpreters do not need to seek out work.  Giving agencies full access to an interpreter’s schedule usually means they are also given priority over all available interpreting jobs.  For example, any interpreting that falls outside of “business hours” will be offered to a staff interpreter.  But interpreters are generally not required to accept these jobs in order to remain employed.

  • Agency Freelance/Subcontractor/Independent Contractor (IC):  The most common community sign language interpreting career in the St. Louis, Missouri metro area is an IC position.  In some cases, interpreters seek out their own jobs, but it is recommended that interpreters work under the umbrella of an agency.  MT&A finds this position to be the most valuable to sign language interpreters and to the D/deaf community.  Not all agencies are what are considered “reputable,” so listen to the experiences of your peers and consider not working for all potential agencies. See our blog about choosing a reputable interpreting agency.


As an Independent Contractor, sign language interpreters can coordinate their own schedules, and choose which interpreting assignments they would like to take.  This is usually the most flexible schedule.  However, it generally guarantees interpreters will not work the same hours each day.


Additional Resources:

MCDHH Certification Levels


Photo Credit:

MT & Associates | Sign Language Interpreting Practice BBB Business Review