BEI Learner’s Permit

By Susen McBeth


The BEI Learner’s Permit just passed in November 2016, but what is it really and how can it help you?


Missouri Learner’s Permit
Pass the TEP *AND* Fail the BEI Basic
Low risk jobs in Social and Community Education settings
Direct supervision by an Interpreter with an Advanced or Master level
Log every hour and turn in quarterly reports
Limited to ONE-year lifetime from date of issue
$10 Application fee to MCDHH
Missouri License from the SCI ($75 first year – prorated to $0 if applying October-January)


Closing the certification gap – why do we need the Learner’s Permit?BEI Learner’s Permit

The goal was to give to pre-certified interpreters some more hands up time to advance their skills so they can have a better chance of passing the BEI Basic.  Under the old 5-level system we had the Novice and Apprentice levels (level 1 and 2) that let people work in low risk settings while they were working toward their Intermediate level.  When the BEI replaced the old MICS, those lower levels were gone and the concern was that there would now be a bigger gap between graduation and certification. We didn’t want to lose those future interpreters who just needed a little more time to develop after graduation.

But in Missouri the law saws no certification – no hands up, not even for low-risk volunteer jobs that used to be perfect for new interpreters.  Meaning anyone who didn’t pass the BEI would have no opportunities to practice, increasing the risk that they lose their skills and fall through that widening gap.

Why do I have to pass the TEP and not pass the BEI Basic?

The BCI wanted it to be available to those on the interpreting tract – so they wanted evidence that people were invested in advancing their skills toward certification (passing the TEP), AND they didn’t want the people who might be able to pass the Basic but were just putting it off due to nerves.  They wanted to target those people who truly needed the extra year.

What jobs can I really do?

Under Missouri Skill Level Standards:

  • Recreational/education programs: Federal and state parks; Missouri history; Conservation; Natural resources; Energy saver; Environment; Natural disaster awareness; Public awareness; Recreational activities; Any program or activity offered by a public entity to increase the public’s awareness of government, safety, health, economics, appreciation, protection, etc.
  • Entertainment / Social Activities: Any other type of activity presented primarily for social or entertainment purposes, including but not limited to: Festivals; Fairs; Sight-seeing tours; Rodeos; Circuses; Carnivals; Amusement parks; Camps

This translates to all those summer festivals like the Renaissance Faire, Fair St. Louis, Earth Day, Mike Bush Baseball Camp, Teen Institute – as well as education programs and in home social activities (Pampered Chef, etc).

But how likely is it to actually find a supervising interpreter?

For many of the settings where you’re eligible to work there are actually built in mentors.  For example, if you work the fairs and festivals there are Advanced and Master level interpreters who are also volunteering, the person scheduling the interpreters will just need to be aware of your BEI Learner’s Permit and team you with an appropriate level interpreter.  For other settings, you may have to reach out to working interpreters and as them to work with you (and you’d be surprised how willing people are to give back and pay it forward).   This means that that you could also get your hands up in paid mentorships, and once again, those come with mentors.   The hope of having the upper level interpreters work with you is that you get appropriate feedback in addition to working with a model who will help you advance your skills.

Is it for you?

Bottom line is that the BEI Learner’s Permit isn’t perfect – but it’s a whole lot better than nothing and it’s a step in the right direction to decreasing the gap.  I hope you take advantage of it and get those hands up!


(Feel free to contact MT&A’s Director of Operations Hannah Hayes at for additional information compiled by Susen McBeth about the BEI Learner’s Permit.)


Additional Resources:

Application for BEI Learner’s Permit:

Learner’s Permit Log and Information:

MCDDH Rules:

Missouri License Application / Instructions:


Photo Credit:

MT & Associates | Sign Language Interpreting Practice BBB Business Review