Tag Archives: ASL Interpreter job

ASL Interpreters: How to Represent an Agency

asl-interpreting-job-tips-employment-01One of the more interesting aspects of being an ASL interpreter is having the opportunity to work in a wide variety of settings with a diverse array of individuals. As an independent contractor or employee, ASL interpreters are assigned the responsibility to faithfully represent both deaf and hearing consumers in communication. But, beyond that, when contracting assignments for an agency, an interpreter’s work and behavior in the field is also reflective of that organization. How are you representing the agencies that offer you assignments?

First off, it is important for interpreters to take pride in the fact that so many people have faith in their ability to provide the best quality services for all parties. In this way, interpreting is a very rewarding profession! But even in the most causal setting, bridging the communication and cultural gap is a responsibility that cannot be taken lightly or taken for granted.

If you are an aspiring interpreter, a new interpreter, or a practicing interpreter looking to improve on your professional persona, read below for tips on how to be the best representative you can be for the agencies  that offer you freelance work.


asl-interpreting-job-tips-employment-02Of course this might go without saying, but customer service is our top priority in the interpreting profession. The consumers are the only reason we even have an job, and Its important that interpreters strive to ensure that everyone feels satisfied with the professional interaction.

Smile. Be friendly. Stay calm and reasonable. Say please and thank you. Mind your manners and communicate with kindness. Make decisions that are ethical. Take the time to explain things if people are confused. Try your best not to get frustrated with anyone. No matter what kind of day you are having, make sure to leave a great and lasting impression! This will help ensure future work, as customers might then request your services moving forward.


In this industry, its very important to remember clients are paying for your time and deaf consumers are counting on you to show up. There is no room for tardiness, as this makes everyone involved look unprofessional. It also impacts the consumer’s faith in you.

If you struggle with punctuality, find ways to give yourself the time you need each day and strive to be early. Don’t book appts too close together; be sure you leave yourself ample time for travel, and always assume the possibility of delays.


asl-interpreting-job-tips-attire-employment-03You do not need to be a wealthy fashionista to dress appropriately for work! Consider adding a couple business items to your wardrobe that you wear only when you are on assignments. Clothing should always be clean and you should look put-together and appropriate for the setting. If you are unclear what this means, you can always ask the agency for more information.

Even on casual assignments, you are still a professional representative of an organization. Avoid anything with holes, rips, stains, unraveling seams, or items that fit poorly or are fading from overuse. Some agencies will send guidelines for attire, if so it is a good idea to review these to understand expectations.


When interacting with people on site, be sure it is clear that you are interpreting for an agency and if anyone has questions, be sure to direct them to the agency for more information. Do not hand out your personal information or business cards. Most agencies, including LC Interpreting Services, will honor customer requests for interpreters, if the client or consumer wishes to work with a specific interpreter again.


Take pride in the work you do and the excellence of the services you can offer. Preparing for an assignment in advance is one of the easiest and most straight forward ways to ensure you provide quality interpretation on site. Ask the agency to send any materials they have and don’t be afraid to ask questions if you have them. If you need to do research, do it. Fill the gaps in your own knowledge regarding the topic and setting so that you are ready to communicate any nuances between deaf and hearing parties. This is another quality that will make you stand out and can ultimately get you more work, as clients request your services again and again.

Team Work

asl-interpreting-job-tips-employment-04Working closely with people is one of the greatest, yet most challenging aspects of the interpreting profession. Interpreters cannot be lone-wolf types who have no flexibility in their approach. We are always working as part of a team to create open lines of communication. Sometimes we are just working with one person, sometimes we are working with a variety of deaf and hearing people and other interpreters. When agencies send an interpreter to the field, they are counting on them to be an eager member of the team, so check in with your team regularly to see how you can best support everyone.


This may not come as a surprise: communication is the most important aspect of the whole interpreting profession! If you are running late, sick, or having any other kind of emergency, contact the agency directly, and do it right away. If your appointment runs over the scheduled duration, or you get asked to come back for another appointment while on-site, let the agency know ASAP.

asl-interpreting-job-tips-employment-05If you encounter any ethical conflicts while on a job, or you have any questions regarding something that happened on assignment, communicate this to the agency! Direct communication and transparency will help create an excellent and productive relationship between yourself and the agencies you contract work through.

Interpreting is a job that we really become invested in. The more a freelance interpreter invests in developing their personality and skill set in the field, the more opportunity they will see coming their way! Through mentorship, experience, and ongoing professional development classes and workshops, interpreters can strive to constantly improve the quality of our services over the course of a lifetime.

LC Interpreting Services is always looking for new experienced and/or credentialed sign language interpreters to join our freelance team! If you are a practicing ASL interpreter in the NYC area, please click the following link to apply: Employment at LC Interpreting Services.

So You Want to be an ASL Interpreter

how-to-become-asl-interpreter-01There are many students heading into the fall semester at colleges and universities across the country who remain uncertain about their career path. Planning for the future can be overwhelming, but take it from me: entering a profession that you love is a truly rewarding experience. If you have ever thought about pursuing a job as a sign language interpreter, here are seven factors to consider.

1. Job Market

asl-interpreter-job-faq-info-02ASL interpreting is a growing profession with plenty of room for dedicated providers. Interpreters are increasingly being used in a variety of settings such as schools, medical offices, business meetings, social events, theaters, and call centers. Information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the demand for “Interpreters/ Translators” is expected to rise 46% from 2012 to 2022. The need for qualified ASL interpreters will continue to rise as people who are deaf keep breaking through barriers to participate in areas of life where they were previously excluded.

2. Passion for Communication

asl-interpreter-job-faq-info-03Motivated sign language interpreters love the way language can be used to form meaningful connections. Strong linguistic skills are necessary for facilitating nuanced (and sometimes critical) conversations between deaf and hearing parties. Sign language interpreters need to take the time to understand each side, their motives, and their communication style so that they can ensure the messages are being faithfully conveyed. People who wish to be ASL interpreters are those who enjoy meeting people from all walks of life and hearing about their experiences.

3. Love of Deaf culture

asl-interpreter-job-faq-info-04Deaf culture is made up of individuals who take great pride in their rich heritage and visual language. Those pursuing careers in the interpreting field will, of course, need to work toward conversational fluency in American Sign Language. They must also learn Deaf history, follow contemporary issues, and try to understand the everyday experience of deafness. This means active involvement in both the Deaf and interpreting communities! Interpreters cannot just sit on the sidelines, because the quality of our work lies in our passion for the communities we serve.

4. ASL Skills

Not everyone is fluent in ASL when they decide to become an interpreter, and that’s ok. For those individuals, the first step to becoming an interpreter is working on sign language skills in a formal environment— a workshop, classroom, or private lessons. If possible, look for instructors who are native sign language users (those who are Deaf or CODAs) to help develop your full understanding of ASL grammar, vocabulary, structure and Deaf culture. Once you gain confidence in your level of fluency, become engaged with the local deaf community. Practicing with native signers will hone your conversational skills.

5. Education

asl-interpreter-job-faq-info-05All deaf individuals deserve an ethical interpreter with the skills to get the job done right. Over the past 25 years, ASL interpreters have worked hard to create a high standard of quality within our field. This begins at the very foundation: education.

As of 2012, a bachelors degree is required for interpreters to become certified by Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID), although the degree does not have to be in interpretation. If you are ready to pursue ASL interpreting as a career, it’s time to enroll in an Interpreter Training Program (ITP). You can enter an ITP with an associates degree or during a bachelors program. In these structured programs, students gain the knowledge and skills they need to become a top quality ASL interpreter. While an ITP might not be mandatory, those who do not complete a training program tend to lack a body of knowledge when it comes to being a well-rounded provider. A combination of classroom and supervised field experience prepares future interpreters bridge the Deaf-hearing communication gap in an ethical and reliable way.

6. Licensure and Certification

Every state has a different system as far as licensure and certification requirements, so be sure to check with your state commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. After your ITP has been completed, the next step is the National Interpreter Certification (NIC). The NIC is a two part examination given by the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) and RID. The NIC exam includes a computer-based component which tests your knowledge of Deaf culture and the field, and a performance exam. This NIC measures your competency as an interpreter and helps clients and consumers to feel confident in your skill set.

7. Continuous Professional Development

asl-interpreter-job-faq-info-06In this field, education does not end with a degree! The best ASL interpreters are those who actively engage in mentorship programs, as well as professional development workshops, conferences and seminars. Interpreters must keep challenging themselves to provide better services and become stronger advocates. We need to pay close attention to the issues facing both the Deaf community and the interpreting community, discuss these topics collectively, and then work to resolve these issues in our own practice. If you are looking for a job that starts at 9am and ends at 5pm, you may want to consider another line of work. ASL interpreting is a career choice that requires dedication and humility.

It is inspiring to enter a field of motivated professionals who are genuinely passionate about the work that they do. Engaging with Deaf consumers and hearing clients on a daily basis opens your mind to new perspectives and provides constant opportunity for personal growth. If you are looking for a rewarding career where each day is different and you get the opportunity to help others, ASL interpreting might be right for you!