Young man signing to woman

Rewarding. Ever-changing. Challenging. Fun.

If you have a natural ability to understand a visual language, excellent English skills and vocabulary, and a passion for serving others, working as a sign language interpreter might be a great career for you.

Interpreter Career Paths

A career as a sign language interpreter offers the opportunity to work with Deaf* people of all ages in a variety of settings. (Deaf Studies scholars are starting to use “Deaf” with an asterisk to recognize every individual, such as oral deaf, deaf-disabled, late-deafened, cochlear-implant-using signing people, deaf-blind, hard of hearing, and deaf.) The types of jobs you could pursue include:

  • Educational interpreter for K-12 schools or school districts, higher education, or other educational settings.
  • Freelance interpreter for interpreting service agencies or other organizations, providing onsite interpreting for events and meetings in a variety of community settings. This might include business, medical, recreational or educational settings, to name a few.
  • Video Relay Interpreter/Video Remote Interpreter, working full time for agencies that specialize in video relay services, or video remote interpreting. These services use internet technology.

You could specialize in certain areas, such as business, legal, mental health, or performing arts interpreting.

Technology has Increased Opportunities

“Yesterday’s technology was the teletypewriter (TTY), through which Deaf* people communicate via telephone through telecommunication relay services,” says Susan Faltinson, lead faculty member in the FRCC Interpreter Preparation Program. “Today, however, video relay services and smartphones offer people the ability to see one another through webcam technology. It has completely changed the way Deaf* people communicate and created a need for more skilled interpreters.”

Another reason that demand for interpreters has increased is the increasing participation by Deaf* individuals in demanding professional positions. The Americans with Disabilities Act continues to draw attention to the issue of communication access, and interpreters are a part of these accommodations. “Today, Deaf* people are pursuing advanced levels of employment and getting involved in community activities that require their interpreters to have the skills to match their expertise and education.”

50 Years Ago Interpreting was an Informal Skill

This year, the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf—the membership organization that advocates for excellence in interpretation and transliteration services for Deaf* people—celebrates its 50-year anniversary.

Fifty years ago, interpreting was an informal skill of family and community members rather than a professional career. The field has grown significantly and interpreter programs are beginning to welcome more Deaf* people as well as hearing people more than ever before—a sign that the bar continues to be raised for highly capable interpreters across many spectrums. Today, it is conceivable that a CEO or a civic leader might be Deaf*, and interpreters must be able to succeed in the most challenging environments.

Also, the use of Deaf* interpreters is becoming a valuable aspect of effective ASL interpreting. This unique team approach pairs Deaf* and hearing interpreters to work side by side to ensure rich and accurate communication with the clients who utilize interpreting services.

A Comprehensive Interpreter Preparation Program

FRCC offers a full-time, two-year A.A.S. in Interpreter Preparation. The program prepares students to pursue certification through the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf and for entry-level jobs as sign language interpreters.

One unique aspect of the FRCC program is that faculty also include the “Deaf* Heart” concept in classroom teaching. Deaf* Heart explores what it truly means to be an ally. For example, students are expected to complete some community service. Philanthropy increases students’ understanding.

How to Learn Interpreting at FRCC

Interested students must apply for the program and take these prerequisite classes (earning a grade of B or higher):

  • American Sign Language I and II (ASL 121 and ASL 122)
  • English Composition I (ENG 121)
  • Cultural Anthropology (ANT 101)

To learn more about FRCC’s Interpreter Preparation Program, program requirements, careers, and more, contact Diane Otto at or (303) 404-5061.

* Deaf Studies scholars are starting to use “Deaf” with an asterisk to recognize every individual, such as oral deaf, deaf-disabled, late-deafened, cochlear-implant-using signing people, deaf-blind, hard of hearing, and deaf.

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