A series on Interpreter Specialization: Five Tips to take with you as you enter the interpreter world

William Woods ASL

Interpreters are needed every day, everywhere in everything we do. This means that interpreters have options when deciding where to take their skills. ASL Interpretation Studies students at William Woods University graduate with a bachelor’s degree and the ability to pursue specializations in many of these different fields:

  • Health Care Interpreting
  • Legal Interpreting
  • Mental Health Interpreting
  • Education Interpreting
  • Community Interpreting
  • Performance Interpreting
  • American Sign Language instructor
  • Video Relay Interpreting
  • Trilingual Interpreting
  • Management, Coordinating, Administrative roles within a deaf organization

Over the next few weeks, we will take a closer look into a few of these fields and highlight positive aspects, special certifications and important things to consider when heading towards a specialization. Should you decide to go into one of these fields – be it as an independent interpreter or working with an agency – we’ve put together a few tips to consider when you’re getting started:

1. Never stop learning. Keep reading, practice constantly and stay up to date with current events in the interpreter world. To stay in the loop, keep up with the latest issues, subscribe to relevant magazines, or attend seminars in your specialty or network.

2. Plug in. Establish a professional presence online. Create a LinkedIn profile and secure your personal social media to be private or professional. Consider keeping a blog – even if it is just to list your contact information and client list or experience.

3. Have a mentor. Work with a seasoned interpreter. Establish a routine, like meeting for coffee and signing with them for an hour a week. Meeting and talking with someone who has the experience you hope for one day is a key benefit of being mentored. Mentors are also insiders to the professional work world you aspire to. Be sure to ask them to help you with job seeking activities, for recommendations on companies who might need Interpreters or writing you a letter of recommendation.

4. Set goals. Where do you want to be professionally in the next couple of months? In five years? In ten? Set personal and professional goals to aim for, and write them down. Put them in a place where you see them often, and change them as you change.

5. Model the RID Professional Code of Conduct. We have stressed before the importance of having a code of ethics that combines your practice, values and guidelines (like the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) Code of Professional Conduct (CPC)). Thinking beforehand about the kinds of ethical situations you’ll face and the appropriate conduct for that situation will make you a more prepared and confident interpreter.