Sign language interpretation is in high need. Court systems, public schools and hospitals are just a few of the areas where interpreters are needed. It is a career where the supply rarely meets the demand, so with the right preparation and devotion, you will never be without employment. Developing the required skills begins with extensive training and a quality education. Like most other opportunities for degree seekers, it is possible to earn most of your training online.

Step 1

Learn sign language. You will need to be able to demonstrate basic skills in American Sign Language or ASL to gain admittance into a sign language degree program. If you need assistance in doing this, you can contact the National Association of the Deaf at for a list of resources in your area.

Step 2

Choose an accredited online college with a program in sign language interpretation. Contact the college for an admissions application and a list of requirements. Admissions into a sign language interpretation program can be rigorous. You will need to demonstrate a genuine dedication to learning the skills and a heartfelt passion for working with deaf citizens. This is accomplished by attaching a current resume and an essay that explains why you want to work with the deaf, your long-term professional goals and the benefits you feel you can bring to others.

Step 3

Submit your college application, resume, completed essay and educational transcripts. You will then need to demonstrate a competency in sign language. As a online degree seeker, you will be asked to find a proctor to administer the exam required by your prospective college. A proctor is someone who possesses the skills and professional qualifications to administer exams on behalf of a college. Ask the college to provide you with a list of proctor requirements. Submit a proctor approval form to the college. Once approved, the proctor will be mailed the required exam and will be required to return the exam once completed. The college will grade your exam.

Step 4

Register for your online classes and follow the course sequence recommended by your college. Completing a bachelors degree in sign language interpretation takes four years. You will also need to become nationally certified to gain employment. Certification exams are administered by The Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, or RID. RID also can help you find employment and provide you with ongoing opportunities for continuing education in the field of sign language interpretation.


Having basic sign language skills is not the same as having qualifications to be a interpreter. The sign language qualification exam administered will only require you to have basic skills.


You need to be a person with strong interpersonal and listening skills. An interpreter is required to not only translate words, but also emotions.


A criminal background check is required for all sign language interpreters.

Related Articles