What does it take to be a Sign Language Interpreter?
One of the questions we are asked most here at terptree is what it takes to be a Sign Language Interpreter. So we have collated our most frequently asked questions together for you with helpfully detailed answers!
How long does it take?
On average, it takes about 8 years to become a fully qualified interpreter, but you can achieve fluency before this time which will expedite your training.
Interacting with the deaf community and obtaining as much real-life experience as possible is vital in continuously developing your language skills and deaf culture.
What is it like working as an Interpreter?
The majority of Interpreters are self-employed/freelance, but there are employment opportunities as well. Due to the varied nature of the work, Interpreters may be required to work on some evenings and weekends.
Places of work vary greatly, and Interpreters work with various people in many different situations. Locations may include Schools, Colleges, Universities, Health Centres, Hospitals, Council Offices and Home Visits in Businesses, Conferences, Museums, Galleries, Theatres and many more places!
The key thing to remember is variety!
Is there really work out there for Interpreters still?
There has been much talk of late of there being little or no work for Sign Language Interpreters.
We want to reassure you that there are plenty of opportunities for those who are considering training as a Sign Language Interpreter in the future. Just look at the stats of 105,000 people in the UK who use British Sign Language and the number of Interpreters at just over 1,000 – plenty of scope for more Interpreters to join the profession 😉
Do I need to go to the deaf club?
Yes, you do! I know that this is quite a daunting thing to do, but you need to be willing to IMMERSE yourselves in British Sign Language and the deaf community. It is the same concept often used when you learn a spoken language – to get to grips with the language fully; you need to travel to the country, talk, socialise, and understand the culture. Travel, eat and drink with the locals in order to actually submerge yourself into the language.
Of course, you don’t have to only go to deaf clubs; now there are plenty of deaf events, theatre shows, deaf pub meets, conferences, festivals and other opportunities to meet deaf people and nurture your language skills.
Would you like to find out What courses I need to complete to be a Sign Language Interpreter?
What things can I do now to make things easier for me?
Here are our 3 ways to get you ahead of the game:
1. Join the Association of Sign Language Interpreters (ASLI) at www.asli.org.uk as a Supporter, as you will receive NEWSLI, their quarterly magazine, reduced entrance to some ASLI events and a regular up-date on the work of the Association
- Start a Professional Development Plan (PDP) and a Learning Journal today! These are fantastic ways for you to set goals and then review and record your progress and find more ways in which you can continually develop
- Read widely and watch programmes that you would not normally watch – this will increase your exposure to language and allows you to have a broader understanding of topic areas
What are the attributes of a super Sign Language Interpreter?
Here are some of the qualities of a super Sign Language Interpreter:
* Have a good knowledge of the Deaf Community
* Enjoy working with a range of clients
* Enjoy working as part of a multidisciplinary team
* Have excellent spoken communication skills
* Have excellent Sign Language skills
* Have confidence when speaking in public
* Be able to maintain intense concentration and think rapidly
* Have integrity and a sense of responsibility
This is a great starting point for you to start building your picture of the real world of working as a Sign Language Interpreter.