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Did you know that the American Sign Language Interpreter Education Program at Wilson Community College is one of only a handful of interpreter education programs in the North Carolina Community College System? In fact, it was the second in the state to be established.
Another fun fact: ASL is the third most commonly-used language in the United States, and it’s classified as a foreign language. At WCC, we offer a degree and a certificate in the interpreter education program. The certificate is actually in deaf studies and for communication purposes only. For example, you may want to be able to communicate by using ASL with a deaf person at work and learn more about deaf culture. However, if you want to become a sign language interpreter, the associate of applied science degree in interpreter education is required.
Graduates from our program have many job opportunities available to them. They can work in the public school system as an educational interpreter and enjoy the benefits and variety that accompany that role. They can also work as a staff interpreter at several state agencies that employ or serve deaf people.
I bet most people would be surprised at the number of jobs available in the career field, too. Many of our students become freelance, or self-employed, sign language interpreters so they can enjoy the flexibility and variety that freelancing allows. Freelance interpreters provide interpreting services in a wide variety of settings like doctors’ offices, professional meetings, presentations, workshops, etc. They can set their own schedule, and if they don’t want to work on a Monday, they don’t have to! Freelance interpreters earn between $30 -$50 an hour, depending on their skill level and certification, and they typically work between 25-35 hours per week.
One of the best things about becoming a sign language interpreter is the interaction with the deaf community. Our students understand the power and privilege that is inherent as an interpreter and know that interpreting is far more than a paycheck; they are allies with the deaf community. Deaf people are patrons of the same businesses and use the same services as people who can hear and are very appreciative and supportive of people who are trying to or want to learn their language. They will often spread the word in the deaf community when someone knows sign language so they can support that business.
For more information about the ASL program at Wilson Community College, contact Sheril Roberts, dean of college transfer and public services, at 252-246-1309, or Catherine Johnson, interpreter education instructor, at 252-246-1269.
• Thursday — Pre-Valentine’s Day movie night in the DelMastro Auditorium, 5 p.m.
• Feb. 20 — Black History Success Panel in the Eagles Center, noon.
• Feb. 25 — American Red Cross blood drive in the Eagles Center, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
• March 2 – Dress for Success Clothing Drive.
Jessica Bailey is the director of institutional advancement at Wilson Community College. She can be reached at email@example.com or 252-246-1271.