In order to become a certified sign language interpreter, you have to take the RID exam. This exam has a written and performance portion. In the past, anyone was able to take this exam with or without a college education. You just had to know sign language at a very fluent level. A previous article I wrote reflected this information. Here is some updated information about becoming a certified sign language interpreter.
As of June 30, 2009, every hearing person who wants to take the performance section of the test, you need to at least have an Associate’s Degree. You can take the written exam without any degree, but you must take the performance exam within five years of taking the written exam. So if you are going to spend money on taking the written exam before you go to college, make sure you start your Associate’s Degree as soon as possible. They will only give you an extension if you have a very good reason as to why you couldn’t take the performance test within five years. If five years pass and you still haven’t taken it, you will have to retake the written exam.
However, for deaf individuals, this rule will not go into effect until June 30, 2012. I suppose it is more difficult for a deaf person to go to college than it is for a hearing person. So, they extended the rule a little bit for those who are deaf. This will give them a chance to prepare to go to college if they desire to be an interpreter.
If you were counting on not going to college and still becoming a sign language interpreter, there are things you can do to get yourself interested in going to college. You only have to go for two years, so that’s definitely less than getting a Bachelor’s Degree. The best thing you could do is to go to college for something you love doing. For example, go for Deaf Studies or get an Associate’s Degree in American Sign Language. This will not only help you meet the requirements to take the exam, it will help you prepare for the exam as well. The more experience you have with sign language, the better chance you will have of passing the exam. College will give you some hands-on experience with the language and you will be learning from those who are already certified.
This news may be a downer for a few of you, but in a work force that is becoming more and more competitive every day, college is becoming more and more necessary. An Associate’s Degree should only take you about two years, sometimes even less depending on the college you go to. Visit the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf website for more information and how to get the training you need to become a certified sign language interpreter.