A sign language interpreter takes the language of one person and relays it as accurately as possible in another language, working from American Sign Language (ASL) to English or English to ASL. Interpreting the thoughts and feelings of another person involves a complex set of skills. Learning this complex set of skills requires developing multi-cultural knowledge and bilingual skills in both ASL and English. Interpreters also need to understand specialized discourse, nuances of language, and ethical implications of decisions made in the course of interpreting.
Why choose Sign Language Interpretation at PCC?
The Oregon Employment Division estimates that interpreters in the Portland area earn an average of $24.26 per hour.
In Portland Community College’s Sign Language Interpretation program, you develop the fundamental skills needed to begin working as an interpreter, using the opportunity to practice interpreting skills in class and the field with experienced professionals. Our program offers a wealth of resources, practical experience, and the knowledge needed to succeed.
Another advantage to our program is our large metropolitan area with a significant Deaf community. You will have many options for internships, networking, and socializing within the Deaf and interpreting communities.
For more information, see our frequently asked questions page.
Degrees and certificates
|Award||Length||Financial aid eligible||Currently accepting students?|
|Associate Degree: ASL/English Interpreting Program||2 years||Limited entry, see how|
to get into this program
|Certificate: Sign Language Interpretation||2 years|
|Certificate: Deaf Cultural Studies||1 year|
What will you learn?
PCC’s Sign Language Interpretation program provides a foundation in advanced American Sign Language (ASL), as well as Deaf history and culture, field experience, interpreting theory, and plenty of practice in interpretation in classes and internships. While we offer the same academic approach as other programs do, we emphasize mastery of both the practical skills of interpreting and the academic skills that you need to be employable. Our graduates’ success demonstrates that we prepare interpreters to be true professionals who lead fulfilling careers.
In addition to proficiency in American Sign Language, you will learn:
- Deaf and hearing cultural differences
- Ethical communication
Ours is an intensive full-time six-term program, which admits only 25 students annually. You are required to pass more than one year of prerequisite courses before entering the program, attend five practicum courses during enrollment, pass a qualifying exam to qualify for an internship, and work closely with a professional interpreter, among other requirements. All of these factors increase your employment opportunities.
We also offer internships that make a difference. You can receive many of the skills you need working under the supervision of a professional interpreter, which ensures one thing: You learn how to interpret in a real-world scenario. Internships are usually completed in local public schools and community colleges.
What will you do?
Our program will prepare you to work as an entry-level interpreter in settings ranging from K-12 public schools to colleges, businesses, and social services. With additional training and national certification, you may be eligible to work as an interpreter within a specialized field, such as medicine or law. In addition, successful completion of our program prepares you to take the written exam for the National Interpretation Certification (NIC), administered by the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID).
Some interpreters work as independent contractors. Others are employees. The majority of our graduates are hired to work in educational settings. Currently, the demand for interpreters is high.
Our program has a transfer agreement with Portland State University and Gallaudet University. This makes it easy for Sign Language Interpretation program graduates to transition to completing your bachelor’s degree.
Applying to PCC is free and only takes a few minutes.Apply now
Limited entry awards have an additional application process. Learn about the prerequisite requirements for the Sign Language Interpretation program.