Sign Language Interpreter Jobs: What Doest a “Terp” to Do?

sign language interpreter jobsIf you’re fluent in ASL, or American Sign Language, and are wondering if there’s a potential career path that can incorporate your language skills, you’re in luck. With fluency in any language comes job opportunities, both in government, as well as the private sector. As time goes by, ASL is being spoken by more and more people. That fact, along with the continued evolution of technology at a breakneck speed, makes it easier than ever for those that speak the language to get a career started. If you’re not fluent in ASL, but would like to learn, this course on teaching yourself a foreign language will show you strategies to help you learn that, or any other new language, and this article on how to learn sign language will show you how to start learning this interesting subject today.

Sign Language Interpreter Jobs by Industry

There are ever increasing job opportunities for those that are able to sign, and they span multiple industries. No longer are they relegated to teaching, though that is still an honorable, and thriving career for anyone, especially sign language interpreters, or terps. Below are just some of the careers available to these ambidextrous linguists. If you’re curious as to how American Sign Language works, and would like to learn some basic concepts, this course on ASL 101 will have you communicating in sign language by the time you’re done with it.

  • Education: Getting a career in the education system doesn’t necessarily mean teaching ASL, per se, but focuses more on interpreting, and includes any career path found within the education system. Sign language interpreters may pursue a career interpreting in those schools that cater to the deaf, such as special education schools, or deaf schools and colleges, or simply work with deaf programs within other schools.
  • Government: All levels of government have a lot of use for interpreters, including state, federal, and local. Terps are in demand at equal opportunity offices, vocational rehabilitation agencies, or agencies that specifically cater to the deaf.
  • Teaching: Interpreters are in high demand for teaching ASL, not only in the classroom setting, but in private lessons, tutoring, etc. These teachers can be found at many age levels of education, from young children, when it’s best to teach a foreign language, to college age students, and those more entrepreneurial terps may even go it alone, choosing to teach on their own, working for themselves. Also, other interpreters must learn from somewhere, and other terps are where they get their knowledge. If teaching is your passion, this course on how to get an online teaching job will help you get a job, and show you how to keep it, too.
  • Translation: Perhaps the most famous job an interpreter can get, these folks show up at important speeches, churches, and other places where a prominent person wants their message heard by everyone. The interpreters who choose translation as their career have many options. Government agencies, courtrooms, churches, hospitals, museums, theaters, and any other potentially high-profile place where the most amount of people possible must hear someone’s message, are all good places for interpreters to work.
  • Social Services: Counselors, psychologists, police officers, social workers, and mental health service providers who can interpret sign language are all in high demand. This is an important career path, where the presence of an interpreter can be important, even life saving, for a deaf person.
  • Recreation: There are many travel agencies that put together packages for those that are deaf. Not only do these folks need someone they can communicate with, but also to specifically make a trip that caters to any of the demands their customers may have. This career, like some of the others mentioned here, allows for any intrepid terps out there to strike out on their own, and start their own business.

If you’re fluent in ASL, or are studying it right now, and were wondering what careers you could consider that use your special skill, hopefully we were able to steer you in the right direction today. As you can see, there is no shortage of opportunities for someone in your unique position, and the sheer immensity of variety of  jobs and industries will not make your decision easy at all. If you are fluent in ASL, but don’t work as an interpreter, and would like to change your career, this course on how to change your career to what you want to do will teach you a 5 step process to do what you love.