Demand for Sign Language Interpreters Expected to Rise Nearly 50%

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The demand for Sign Language Interpreters is expected to rise 46% from 2012 to 2022, an increase of 29,300 jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Scott Community College offers an American Sign Language/English Interpreter Program. The three-year program can qualify a graduate for entry-level positions ranging from $20-$25 an hour.

"Many of the interpreters working in the Quad Cities currently have graduated from this program," said Teacher, Diane Roebuck. "Most Quad Citians would not expect that there are probably between 200 and 300 deaf community members living and working around them."

Right now, Roebuck says only 80% of interpreting requests can be filled - and the need is only going to get greater.

"We just don't have enough interpreters to fill all of them and with all the baby boomers retiring, we're going to be struggling very hard to keep up with the demand," she explained.

There are several other reasons why the demand is high. Roebuck says more people who are deaf or hard of hearing are in public situations more often, including children who are going to public schools more frequently. That means more interpreters are needed in schools.

"Those students then graduate and they go to local colleges whether they require interpreting services and then all the way through their childhood and all their way through adulthood they go to doctors, they go to lawyers, they go to banks and other things that all of us do in our daily life," added Roebuck. "Interpreters facilitate their ability to understand what's going on."

The career can be full-time or part-time, too. That flexibility allows people to take care of their families or continue their education and get a Bachelor's or Master's Degree.

"It gives our students a lot of choice and a lot of marketable skills to take with them wherever they decide to go," Roebuck concluded.


  • Nicole

    While I’m excited to read this article I just had a hard time getting past the first sentence. We (interpreters) are not here to “help” the deaf and h.h.. They are quiet able to do everything on their own. We are here to assist them by conveying a message into their language and vice versa. We are not here to enable them but to empower them. We are an unabtrusive abtrusion. Yes, and to be Nationally certified you MUST have a Bachelors degree (in anything).

    • signoutloud

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who had difficulty with that first sentence! I especially found fault with the implication you only need 3 things. I’m sure there was a positive intent, but I would add: a command and love of English (and possibly another spoken language); a teachable spirit; a desire to be involved in a new culture that is not your own – and I emphasize not your own…. I would love to go on but those are my main points I want to share with anyone who has a desire to become an interpreter. :)

  • Judy 40

    I also have a problem with “with all the baby boomers retiring, we’re going to be struggling very hard to keep up with the demand.” I dare say that people who are growing older (baby boomers, as you say) have lost their hearing gradually and use hearing aids, cochlear implants and other assistive devices. Of the 48 million in the is country who have some hearing loss, only five percent use ASL. On the other hand, it is commendable and lucrative profession.

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