The American Sign Language (ASL) Interpretation program provides students with knowledge, skills and practical experience to become successfully employed as interpreters. Becoming an interpreter involves more than just signing. This job requires accurately conveying messages between two different languages — spoken language and sign language. Students will experience diverse learning environments beyond the classroom. Graduates will have a broad understanding of the support services available to deaf persons as well as extensive knowledge of deaf culture. They also will be prepared to take the state interpreter credentialing test and work as an entry-level interpreter or continue their studies at a four-year institution. Professional ASL interpreters develop their skills through extensive training and practice over time.

This program serves students who are pursuing employment working with the deaf and deafblind community and/or entering the American Sign Language Interpreting field. Specifically, this certificate will benefit students who are interested in learning American Sign Language to communicate with family, friends, colleagues, and community members, and/or working with the deaf/deafblind/hard-of-hearing community as an interpreter in a wide variety of settings. As a two-year certificate program, this program may also benefit students who are interested in transferring to a four-year institution to complete a bachelor's degree in sign language interpretation, deaf studies, or deaf education.

Employment of interpreters and translators is projected to grow 18 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. Employment growth reflects increasing globalization and a more diverse U.S. population, which is expected to require more interpreters and translators.

Demand will likely remain strong for translators of frequently translated languages, such as French, German, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. Demand also should be strong for translators of Arabic and other Middle Eastern languages; for the principal Asian languages including Chinese, Japanese, Hindi, and Korean; and for the indigenous languages from Mexico and Central America such as Mixtec, Zapotec, and Mayan languages.

Demand for American Sign Language interpreters is expected to grow due to the increasing use of video relay services, which allow people to conduct online video calls and use a sign language interpreter.

In addition, growing international trade and broadening global ties should require more interpreters and translators, especially in emerging markets such as Asia and Africa. The ongoing need for military and national security interpreters and translators should result in more jobs as well.

Computers have made the work of translators and localization specialists more efficient. However, many of these jobs cannot be entirely automated, because computers cannot yet produce work comparable to the work that human translators do in most cases.

Source: U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics

Program Details

Program NameType of CredentialCurriculum CodeDepartment or Division
Sign Language InterpretationCertificate1369Communications, Foreign Languages and Literature

D632CAM089

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Konnor Parrish (Oak Lawn), shared his educational journey while on a panel for the Illinois Project Lead the Way meeting.

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