One of the most important things for deaf people to be aware of is how to get access to the support services that they need. If they work for a company or even have private personal matters in which they need an interpreter for, they cannot assume that the people that they will be interacting with will always know what to do in order to provide an interpreter. This is where it is important for deaf people as well as any hearing consumer who may find themselves in the position of requesting an interpreter to understand not only how to go about doing it, but also understand what type of interpreters are out there. There can be a wide variation in terms of the certification/skill level, the salary, and the type of interpreters that are out there.
There are three types or categories that an interpreter may fall into. You can be an interpreter for an agency such as Interpretek which is here in Rochester or even Department of Access Services here on Campus. Benefits associated with being an interpreter for an agency would include: stability, benefits, and the fact that they’ll take care of your scheduling and money related issues. You can be a free lance interpreter or you can be what is known as a contracted interpreter. If you’re an interpreter for an agency then basically you work for this agency and they’re the ones that provide you with job assignments. If you’re a free lance interpreter then you’re on your own and you’re responsible to find your own clients. There is also a lot more work that goes into being a freelance interpreter such as doing your own tax work, doing your own marketing and basically being your own secretary. As for a contracted interpreter, this is an idea that marries the two beliefs of an agency interpreter and a freelance interpreter. The way this works is that you are on contract with an interpreting agency for the duration of the job in question but you don’t exactly work for that agency. An example of this would be if the agency here on campus (department of access services) was full and they couldn’t find an interpreter for one class that happened every Tuesday and Thursday from 12 to 2, they could take on a Freelance interpreter just for that assignment for that quarter but that doesn’t mean that the following quarter, the interpreter can expect an assignment at that school.
When it comes down to interpreting as a job there isn’t one straight set answer as far as stability, salary and so on. The pay that an interpreter receives is based on where exactly they’re located, education, experience, credentials and also the type of interpreter that they are. The reason why their location matters is because of the fact that there may not exactly be a high demand of interpreters within an area and/or the cost of living where they are since rural areas are cheaper, they may pay less for an interpreter than urban areas would. The education level for interpreters would work in the same sense as any other career; the higher your education, the higher your pay. In 2016 it is expected that interpreters are to have a Bachelors degree however it doesn’t need to be in interpreting. You can receive an associate’s level degree in interpreting and have a bachelors in psychology. As far as the experience and the credentials of an interpreter, the longer that you have worked within a position, the more skilled you will become due to the interaction with various deaf people and various settings. As far as the credentials, there are different kinds that you can receive by taking a test and becoming certified. A well known provider is the National Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) however you can also be assessed by the National Association for the Deaf (NAD). One thing to keep in mind is the fact that each state may carry their own requirements such as in Michigan where their certification is known as the MI BEI which stands for Michigan Board for Evaluation of Interpreters.
Examples of Common Certifications
NIC – National Interpreter Certification: Certified, Advanced and Master levels
CDI – Certified Deaf Interpreter
CI – Certificate of Interpretation
CT – Certificate of Transliteration
OTC – Oral Transliteration Certificate
SC: L – Specialist Certificate: Legal
CLIP-R – Conditional Legal Interpreting Permit-Relay
Other possible certifications that are recognized by RID:
MCSC – Master Comprehensive Skills Certificate
CSC – Comprehensive Skills Certificate
OIC – Oral Interpreting Certificate
RSC – Reverse Skills Certificate
NAD – National Association of the Deaf
Level III – Generalist
Level IV – Advanced
Level V – Master
IC – Interpretation Certificate
TC – Transliteration Certificate
ACCI – American Consortium of Certified Interpreters
SC: PA – Specialist Certificate: Performance Arts
CLIP – Conditional Legal Interpreting Permit
EIPA – Educational Interpreter Performance Assessment
As I mentioned before with the salary as well as the stability, it has been noted that between the year 2010 to 2020, the employment rate is expected to grow 42%. The salary of interpreters on average has been reported to be 43,000 as of May, 2010 but that number can vary depending on all of the aspects that we spoke of earlier.
The other things that need to be taken into consideration that people don’t necessarily think of is the physical demand as well as the preparation time. There are physical demands that interpreters can encounter that can end up ending their career at a younger age if they’re not careful. The consistent use of their arms and muscles without the proper allotted time for breaks can lead to physical issues such as carpal tunnel and just the general aspect of overusing the muscles. The prep time issue comes from the idea that an interpreter needs to be provided the materials that will be covered in class ahead of time so that they can have time to go over the materials and learn key vocabulary words so that they’re able to translate the information smoother and more efficiently rather than struggling. They also need to take continuing education units (CEU) every 4 years to continue their education and maintain their certifications.