The ASL-English Interpretation degree program at Columbia College Chicago is the only nationally accredited, BA-granting ASL-English Interpretation program in the Chicago Metropolitan area, accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Interpreter Education. Since 1993, we have prepared students for work in the fields of Deafness, American Sign Language, and ASL-English Interpretation.
The ASL-English Interpretation major is a four-year degree program that is designed for students who want to pursue careers as interpreters. The core curriculum of the program provides a coherent plan of study through courses in American Sign Language, Deaf culture, linguistics, the theories and skills involved in interpreting and transliterating, multicultural issues.
In the first two years of the degree program, students focus on language development and culture while they are introduced to the field of interpretation. Students spend their junior and senior years focusing on practical, hands-on interpretation and theoretical courses. The curriculum involves two full semesters of practicum, which gives students an opportunity to undertake real-life interpreting assignments, always supervised by professional licensed interpreters.
Students experience many different interpreting settings before graduation, including medical, theatrical, educational, and freelance settings. Additionally, students can take a variety of different department electives, including “Creativity and ASL” and “2-D Interpreting: VRS and VRI.”
In order to be successful interpreters, students in the program will need to acquire mastery of standard American English, fluency in American Sign Language, and familiarity with public speaking techniques, as well as sensitivity to multicultural issues and challenges in interpersonal communication.
The curriculum also emphasizes work with the Deaf population as a linguistic and cultural minority. After leaving Columbia, graduates not only acquire fluency in ASL, but they become aware of and sensitive to issues concerning the Deaf community.
Requirements to Graduate
Careers in ASL-English Interpretation
The job outlook for employment of interpreters is expected to grow 42 percent from 2010-2020, according to the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. The amount of growth in this field is much higher than the average for all occupations.
Percentile wage estimates:
50 percentile: $21.23 per hour ($44,160 annually)
75 percentile: $29.89 per hour ($62,170 annually)
90 percentile: $42.31 per hour ($88,010 annually)
Industries with the highest levels of employment (with hourly and mean wages):
Industry Hourly Mean Annual Mean
Technical, Scientific, Other $26.93 $56,020
Elementary, Secondary Schools $19.64 $40,850
General Medical, Surgical Hospitals $21.43 $44,570
Local Government (OES) $22.48 $46,750
Colleges, Universities, Prof. Schools $26.91 $55,970
Top paying industries (with hourly and mean wages):
Industry Hourly Mean Annual Mean
Computer Systems Design, Related $50.47 $104,990
Management, Scientific, Technical $46.64 $97,020
Federal Executive Branch (OES) $36.13 $75,150
Business Support Services $28.64 $59,570
Legal Services $28.21 $58,670
Source: United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2011.