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ASL Interpreter Pay:


Charles Blake Heisler

Interpreter Pay

     [This article takes a look at] what I now realize as what must be a barrier in the education sector of the Deaf Culture.  The ability of the men and women who wish to dedicate their lives to a career of helping Deaf students and Interpreting in a variety of settings to earn a decent wage.  Since my paper deals with a historical progression of Deaf Culture there seems to be one area which has not fared well and that is the earning potential of Interpreters.  My readings indicate that there is no set standard and ones credentials will bare more or less weight depending upon the State where he seeks employment.  There are member organizations at the federal level such as the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) and the National Association for the Deaf (NAD) which have accredited credentials they offer upon completion of certain criteria.  However in some States neither are required.  I do believe however that this will soon change.  There is work in progress to combine the resources of RID and NAD and consolidate their certifications.  For an example of one States attempt to determine pay for Interpreters I'll share what has happened in Bibb County, Georgia.  Bibb County Public Schools salary schedule for ASL/English Interpreters.  The contract time is for 182 days and 8 hours per day.  An Interpreter with a state level credential in Interpreting and Transliterating but with no Bachelor's Degree can expect to earn in the range of $24,722.88 - $31,973.76 annually.  A Bachelor's Degree will earn an additional $1000.00 supplement.  An Interpreter with a Masters Degree will be granted an additional $2000.00.  A certificate of Interpretation by (RID) or a certificate of Transliteration will earn a $750.00 supplement.  If a Bachelors Degree is associated with the Interpreters and Transliterators certificate the $750.00 supplement will be accompanied by an additional $1000.00.  The beginning salary is based upon a range of $25,669.28 - $33,196.80.  The peak range is the Certificate of Interpretation and Certificate of Transliteration with a Masters Degree.  The range here is $29,658.72 - $38,251.04 (Elton 2002).  The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee prepared a "Salary Survey of Sign Language Interpreters in Post-Secondary Settings"(2000).  They list many Schools covering many States so I will include a sampling beginning with the University of Arizona.  Their salary range is $23.5 - $27.5K with the average salary being $26.5K based on a 10mo. contract. The University of Minnesota's salary range is $23 - $35.2K and both 10 and 12 month contracts are available.  Virginia Tech Universities salary range is from $31.6 - $36.9K and for a 12 month contract. In 1999, the U.S. Department of Labor published the following estimate for Interpreters and Translators.  The mean hourly wage was $14.16 and the annual wage being $29,450. I included the salary information in my paper and even though some of the salaries seem rather adequate, I believe they are the exception and not the rule.  A low salary and the ever increasing liability which goes with being an Interpreter I fear may discourage some people from this Profession.  The low pay however does not reflect the importance and reward that goes with this job.

(2003, April 29). Deaf Time-Line.  Retrieved 28, April 2003:

Govt. (1999) 1999 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates-Interpreters and Translators.  U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Retrieved 28, April 2003:

(2000, April). Salary Survey of Sign Language Interpreters in Post-Secondary Settings.  University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.  Retrieved 27, April 2003:

Elton, Amy- BA, CI and CT. (2002, March). Georgia School System Establishes Equitable Salary Scale.  Lead Interpreter, Bibb County Public Schools.  Retrieved 27, April 2003.

Note: The article above is a portion of a longer article. For the complete article see: A Timeline of Deaf History


Back in October of 2008
*  Gallaudet University had three pay levels -- the top was 58 to 98 thousand.
*  In Seattle, Washington, many agencies paid 45 to 65 thousand depending on certification.
*  Experienced freelancers in Seattle charged around 55 dollars an hour.



In a message dated 10/22/2008 3:22:16 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time, a recruiter sent me the following announcement. I've removed location related information since to position is no longer open.

Job Title: Sign Language Interpreter (Temporary)  Job ID:  ______
Disability Services Department, Main Campus   Full-Time / Temporary
Salary Range: From $15.38 to $20.19

Job Description
The Center for Disability Services (CDS) at The University of _____ welcomes applications for a temporary Staff Sign Language Interpreter. Responsibilities would include:

-Providing Sign Language Interpretation/Transliteration for University classes, lectures, meetings, and other campus events. Services provided to undergraduate and graduate students including students in the Medical School. (Approx. 20hrs/week)
-Provide mentoring and instruction for part-time Sign Language Interpreters. Assist Coordinator of Deaf Services with pairing of additional mentors and mentees.
-Help coordinate the daily tracking and assignments of interpreters.
-Assist the Coordinator of Deaf Services with performance evaluations of part-time Sign Language Interpreters.
-Assist the Coordinator of Deaf Services in procuring, collecting, and maintaining support materials for part-time Sign Language Interpreters

This position reports to the Coordinator of Deaf Services and is a temporary, hourly, non-benefitted position. Hours per week is 30 to 40 (negotiable). Regular hours occur between 8:00 AM and 5:00 PM, Monday- Friday, however availability outside of these times may be needed.

Salary Range and Start Date: $15.38 - $20.19/hour (Annual Full-Time Equivalent: $32,000 to $42,000) , depending on experience and qualifications. Start date on or around November 1, 2008. Anticipated ending date May 31, 2009.

For more information about CDS, visit http://www._____


An ability to communicate effectively with faculty, staff, and students is necessary. The successful candidate will have strong collaboration skills, effective problem-solving abilities, and demonstrated flexibility. Minimum requirements are:

-_____State Intermediate (Level II) certification or equivalent. Lower certification level may be considered for this temporary position.
-Associates Degree in Interpreting Sign Language (ASL), or related degree. Bachelor's degree preferred.
-At least two years experience as an educational interpreter, preferably in a post secondary setting.
-Knowledge and ability to apply the NAD-RID Code of Professional Conduct

Other Information

This position may require successful completion of a drug test and criminal background check.

How to Claim Vet Preference

Applicants claiming Veterans or Disabled Veterans preference must submit a photo copy of their DD-214 and complete the _____ State Veteran's Preference Addendum.

Equal Employment Opportunity:
The University of Utah is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity employer. Upon request, reasonable accommodations in the application process will be provided to individuals with disabilities.

How To Apply:
Submit an online application at http://www._____ AND submit a cover letter, resume, copy of current license/certificate and names of three references to:

Director, Center for Disability Services
Center for Disability Services
Phone: (801) _____
FAX: (801) _____
Email: _____

Job Closing Date:  This job closes on November 30, 2008, or when filled.

Note: A couple years later (October of 2010) that same recruiter contacted me back to let me know that they had to put that particular position offering on hold due to budget cuts. They offered it again later and were finally able to hire a staff interpreter.
-- Dr. Bill


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