American Sign Language Interpreter

Translate American Sign Language into spoken words or vice versa.
picture of American Sign Language Interpreter

Quick Stats


Salary Range
$23,000 – $86,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do American Sign Language Interpreters do?

To learn to speak, one needs the ability to hear. That’s why the deaf or hearing-impaired can’t talk clearly even if technically, there’s nothing wrong with their vocal cords. Instead, they rely on specific hand motions, known as signing, to communicate.

In the US, these hand motions are known as American Sign Language. American Sign Language Interpreters help the deaf and hearing-impaired share their thoughts and ideas with everyone else by translating the motions into words.

Just like any type of Interpreter, American Sign Language Interpreters can work in a lot of different environments. You can interpret in a Doctor ’s office, courtroom, school, or company meeting. You might even work at a wedding, sporting event, or birthday party. In short, your workplace can be anywhere a hearing-impaired person might go and need to understand what’s happening around them.

This is a pretty difficult job. Not only do American Sign Language Interpreters need to be fluent in sign language, but they also have to keep up with different industry-specific terms and slang, which can change all the time. For example, you need to know court jargon if you interpret during trials.

You also need extreme focus and quickness. Conversations usually happen fast, and you need to be able to keep up. There are two ways of interpreting: simultaneous and consecutive. The former means you sign while someone talks, or talk while someone signs.

On the other hand, consecutive interpreting means you wait until the person is done speaking, then you sign what was said (or vice versa). Each method requires different skills—either the ability to translate while talking or a memory like an elephant. Because of this, most Interpreters specialize in one area.

Should I be an American Sign Language Interpreter?

You should have a bachelor's degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Team Player: You're able to listen, communicate, and work with tons of different people.
  • Detail Oriented: You pay close attention to all the little details.
  • Independent: You enjoy flying solo and doing things your own way.

  • How to Become an
    American Sign Language Interpreter

    Most American Sign Language Interpreters have a Bachelor's degree. Chart?chd=s:yo19cx&chl=no+college+%2812%25%29|certificate+%287%25%29|associate%27s+%2826%25%29|bachelor%27s+%2830%25%29|master%27s+%281%25%29|doctorate+%2824%25%29&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,12,30
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