How to Become an ASL Interpreter

By hissign|June 2, 2021|Blogs|0 comments

Many students and practitioners of ASL decide to apply their skills by “going pro” and becoming ASL Translators and Interpreters. But this decision prompts an obvious question: how? The process has both “traditional” pathways and exceptional ones, and every Translator chooses one depending on their circumstances. Then, they must determine which type of interpreter they wish to be: staff, freelance, or contract.

And where better to practice your trade than HIS Sign Interpreting? We are the Baltimore, MD, area’s complete resource for onsite and virtual ASL Interpreting, TypeWell, and CART services. Along with these, we promote the interests of the Deaf community and have substantial ties with individuals in it. Visit our website to learn more about our work and our options.

Below, we outline the processes to become an ASL Interpreter as well as the types that exist:


Currently, one certification is nationally recognized: the National Interpreter Certification, or NIC. The exam to earn this certification is the RID NIC (the first part of which acronym refers to the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf or RID). The exam’s proctors require both Hearing and Deaf candidates to hold at least a bachelor’s degree to qualify.

The NIC is the most recent manifestation of RID’s certification; previous national tests include the CI, CT, and CSC. Although they no longer offer these tests, RID still recognizes them as valid national credentials.

While NIC candidates can have a degree in any field, they must perform at a certain caliber for the exam. Thus, administrators suggest taking a 2- or 4-year degree in ASL Interpreting. Moreover, many higher education institutions offer ASL Interpreter training, often referred to as Interpreter Training Programs (ITPs).

However, many organizations hire ASL Interpreters with neither formal training nor certification. Many of these individuals are Children of Deaf Adults (CODAs), who began using ASL at young ages. Their years of experience supplant formal instruction and exams.

While HIS Sign engages non-certified Interpreters, we also urge applicants to seek certifications. Specifically, we suggest completing NIC and the state-level VQAS (which we discuss below) Nevertheless, all candidates go through a screening and evaluation process to ensure they match our requirements. Learn more about our process on our website.


Although NIC (and its antecedents) remains the only recognized certification at the national level, several other programs exist. The Educational Interpreter Performance Assessment (EIPA) is used across the nation, though it tends to focus on educational, rather than general, interpreting. Specific to our region is the Virginia Quality Assurance Screening (VQAS) – other states offer their own programs.

Along with the NIC, HIS Sign also recognizes EIPA and VQAS. We understand, though, that people may be at different stages in their program or training. Reach out to learn more about our requirements and which certifications we accept.

No matter which kind of certification you choose to receive (or whether you receive any), you’ll find the ASL market is growing. Due to their visibility during Covid, Interpreters have seen a great increase in demand, and their market is expected to grow 20% by 2029.

Interpreter Types

Whether you receive a certification or not, your ASL path can go one of a few ways. For instance, you might find a position as a staff employee for an ASL service provider or a corporation that frequently needs interpreters. This option may come with benefits and stability.

Also, you could become a freelance interpreter. Like other freelance positions, this requires that you organize your assignments and schedule. Although it lacks the stability and benefits of a full-time role, it provides one freedom to select their jobs and hours. Most interpreters work as freelancers.

Finally, you might secure an agency interpreter role. This option offers some stability of a staff role with the freedom of a freelancer. In this setup, agencies contract interpreters and send them out when clients request that service from them.

ASL Translators and Interpreters Available Across the Baltimore, MD, Region

As you complete your ASL Interpreting education and certification, consider how you could apply that knowledge. With your training complete, we at HIS Sign Interpreting could use your help in our ASL Translators and Interpreters program. HIS Sign offers onsite and virtual ASL Interpreting, TypeWell, and CART services to people across Baltimore, MD. To learn more, call us today at (877) 458-7408 or fill out our online inquiry form.

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