American Sign LanguageCredit: lifeprint.com
The last decade has seen the rise of demand for Sign Language Interpreter as the government and private companies work on providing an environment that accommodates those with special needs include the mute and deaf. Malls, government offices, schools, hotels, and other businesses are starting to hire full time Sign Language Interpreters. Obviously, those that are in the service business such as restaurants, hotels, schools, and others are the ones that are more actively hiring Sign Language Interpreters. The rise in demand is expected to continue to the next decade.
You can actually self-study Sign Language. There are a lot of free materials online. Watching a Sign Language Interpreter can also help you become fluent in the language. However, most companies are looking for certified interpreters. This means you need to take classes from an institution that is recognized nationally. You need to take a program that will give you an Associate Degree or a Bachelor’s Degree. Note that there is no degree course devoted to Sign Language. You need a legitimate degree such as AB Communications, BS Nursing, and others. Only then will you be qualified to become qualified to take up Sign Language Interpreter Certification Test.
A degree is important if you want to take certification from the National Interpreter Certification (NIC) administered by the RID and the National Association of the Deaf (NAD). Aside from the Associate Degree/Bachelor’s Degree, you also need to pass written, oral, and on the field exams.
The pay greatly varies and also a little difficult to compute because some companies don’t hire full time Sign Language Interpreters.
- Hospital Interpreters - $50,000. Usually, they hire current employees that have Sign Language Certifications and add the salary to the existing salary.
- Security and Safety Field - $30,000
- Government Services - $73,000
- Private Service Industry - $90,000
- Schools - $40,000
- CIA - $75,000 to $115,000
The running per hour rate is anywhere between $18 to $40 per hour.
The rate provided is more a range. Different organizations offer different rates but the highest paying ones are private organizations and high level government organizations like the CIA. However, the bigger the job, the higher the requirements. That means you will need to pursue higher levels of certifications and studies if you want to move up the ladder.
Where To Study American Sign Language Classes Online
If you are looking for certified American Sign Language Classes online, there are very limited choices:
University of Southern Missouri
They have a Deaf Blind Project. It is actually a free web-based course which anyone can take be it students, teachers, etc. You can access their resources for free and take their exams for free. However, if you wish to get a certification, you need to pay.
Sacramento State College of Continuing Education
Sacramento State College offers two courses of ASL for a total of 6 units. You cannot take the course in semester. You need to take up the first course in order to take the second.
Utah State University
The Utah State University got a grant from AT&T. They opened a special online program for those who want to study sign language. They use interactive materials, video conferencing, and mailed materials to get through the course.
Galaudet University Center for Continuing Studies
They provide both free and paid sign language online and on campus online classes. They are operated by John Logan College.
They have probably the most extensive resources for deaf and hard of hearing people. They provide training, workshops and other resources. Their deaf and hard of hearing people service includes training future trainors.
BYU Independent Study
BYU is an independent instiution but they are accredited by Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU), Northwest Accreditation Commission (NWAC), and Distance Education and Training Council (DETC). This means that whatever credits you earn from BYU is usable or acknowledged by the institutions listed above.
They offer courses that are designed for both High School and College students. They offer other deaf and hearing-impared related courses, not just sing language.
Pasco eSchool serves K-12 students. They offer full year program taught exclusively online. They expanded their online sign language course. Outside of sign language, they offer other courses related to communicating with the deaf and hard of hearing.
They also offer online tutoring on other subjects.
There are also other non-certified classes online. Some are free some paid. These non-certified classes online means you will not get any legitimate and recognized certification or education units. Most of them also does not guarantee that their courses will prepare you for the NIC exam.
American Sign Language University
ASLU is primarily a resource center. They are not specifically geared towards being accredited. They have stored materials that people can access anytime and use to learn sign language. They have 2 courses and both are free. Each course is on open schedule which means it is up to you when you want to complete it. However, the total study time of each course is between 50 to 60 hours.
ASL Pro, like ASLU, is a resource center. They also do one-on-one classes. However, their skew is for teachers. Teachers can open an account and create teaching materials using the resources and tools provided by the site. There are games, videos, reading materials, and others.
There some people there who are also available to help you.
They accept donations.
There are few schools that offer an entire degree devoted to communicating and providing services to the deaf and hard of hearing. That includes history, cultural studies and studying processes on how to provide services to the deaf and hard of hearing but no degree is devoted to studying sign language.
If you want to make sign language interpretation a second career, you need to take up a legitmate bachelor’s career.
It is recommended that you do a self-study first before enrolling in an accredited institution. It will allow you to gauge whether you want to really pursue it as a career or not. If you are learning sign language for personal purposes, then no need for accreditation.