Frequently Asked Questions

CPCC offers excellence in instruction and learning in Interpreter Education!

CPCC’s Interpreter Education program was the first Community College in the Nation to establish an articulation agreement with Gallaudet University's Bachelor's in Arts in Interpreting Program.  At CPCC, you will receive superior instruction by highly qualified faculty to develop your American Sign Language (ASL) foundational skills and then continue on for a career as an ASL-English Interpreter.  Did you know that a career in ASL-English interpreting does not stop with an Associate's degree?  You can actually continue your education in interpreting all the way up to the Doctoral level if you wish.

Note: For course sequencing reasons, it is NOT recommended that students with a desire to enter the Interpreting Degree program take summer ASL courses.

Note: Required CORE courses could be taken in the summer. For students receiving financial aid, this may not be advisable. Check with financial aid and speak to the ASL/Interpreting Department prior to registering for summer courses.

If I know ASL can I just go ahead and interpret anywhere?

You should know that the state of NC has very strict regulations regarding who may work as a sign language interpreter in exchange for compensation.  For community interpreters, these regulations are overseen by the NC Interpreters and Transliterators Licensing Board ( under NC General Statute 90-D which mandates that all interpreters working in community settings must be licensed by the State of NC to practice in the State.  For educational interpreters working in the K-12 setting, regulations are overseen by the NC Department of Public Instruction Office of Exceptional Children.  Interpreters working in these settings must pass the Educational Interpreters Performance Assessment at a level 3.0 or greater.

Interpreters with an AAS in interpreting may obtain a provisional license that may be renewed annually up to three times.  Interpreters must convert their provisional license to a full license prior to the expiration of the provisional license.  In order to convert from a provisional license to a full license, interpreters must become Nationally Certified by the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID).  Starting in 2012, in order to sit for the national certification exam, candidates must have a bachelor’s degree in any field of study or the equivalent of a BA degree as described in the RID Alternate Pathway.  So, it is important to know, if you wish to become a community interpreter, you are ultimately making a commitment to obtain a bachelor’s degree or the equivalent of 120 college level credit hours.  Some of our students work on their bachelor’s degree concurrently to studying in our Interpreter Education program.  Other students already have a bachelor’s degree when they enter the program and still others obtain their bachelor’s degree at other institutions after graduation from CPCC with an Associate's degree in interpreting.

Interpreters wishing to work in the Educational field K-12 do not, at the present time, need to have a bachelor’s degree.  However, they must pass an exam called the Educational Interpreters Performance Assessment (EIPA) with a level 3.0 or better.

How long will it take?

Once you have the requisite ASL skills and pass the American Sign Language Proficiency Interview (ASLPI) at a level of intermediate or better, you will be able complete the Associate in Applied Science Degree in Interpreter Education in two years.  ASL 111 and 112 are typically offered in the evenings and at multiple campuses to accommodate students taking ASL for modern language credit only. All other program courses are offered only at the Cato Campus and are offered only  during the daytime hours because most interpreting co-op opportunities are available in the day time.  Thus the Interpreter Education Program is primarily a day-time program.  Once foundational ASL courses are completed, students attend the remainder of the interpreting program as a cohort in a lockstep curriculum that typically requires them to be on campus all day for two days out of the week.  Most semesters students will take between 9 and 11 credits of academic load.  Even though the program is technically part-time, it is important to know that it is rigorous. It takes time and practice to develop fluency in a second language and then train your brain to handle the complex cognitive processes associated with successful interpretation between two languages. In their last year, students typically have work-based learning on the days they are not on campus taking course work.  Graduates of the program will tell you that this method was effective and prepared them well for licensure and entry into the workforce.

I have taken ASL courses at another institution, may I skip some ASL classes?

We offer placement exams for students who have taken ASL at other colleges or universities.  We do not accept ASL classes from non-credit continuing education programs.  If you have been out of ASL classes for more than two consecutive terms (Fall, Spring, Summer), even if you took them at CPCC, we require that you take the placement exam to see if you are still at a level that will foster your success in the next level of ASL.

I grew up signing, can I simply bypass ASL classes and go straight into interpreting courses?

In order to place out of any ASL courses, you must have taken ASL at the collegiate credit earning level. Although you may have native signing skills, we find that for students wanting to major in Interpreting, skipping these foundational courses often leads to gaps in cultural/grammar knowledge of the language and we do not recommend bypassing them.  Think of it this way...if English is your native language, how many years of formal instruction do you still receive in English while you are going through school?  Most native speakers of English receive a minimum of 14 years of formal English studies.  ASL is no different.  Though you may have signed at home or with family, there is no replacement for formal education regarding the structure and grammar of ASL.  Bypassing development of good ASL grammar and syntax may cause you to miss essential components of your learning and will ultimately limit your development as a qualified ASL-English Interpreter.  Ask graduates of the program who grew up in signing households if they felt their time was wasted taking formal ASL instruction.  They will tell you it was a vital component of their success and they did not know what they did not know until they began formal language studies of ASL.

Do I have the needed qualifications to enter the program?

• A high school diploma or equivalent is required.

• CPCC placement tests are required in English, reading and mathematics.

• Students must take and pass ENG 111 with a grade of “C” or better, successfully pass a credit by exam, or transfer an ENG 111 equivalent course.

• Students must have an ASLPI (American Sign Language Proficiency Interview - Gallaudet): ASL rating of Level 2  or higher in order to major in the Interpreter Education program.(Note: Students achieving a Level 1 ASLPI rating may be interviewed and accepted provisionally into the program at the discretion of the faculty.

• Many courses have prerequisites or co-requisites; check the Course Descriptions section for details.

Students who have taken an ASL course from another college or university and wish to be placed in higher level of ASL courses may take an ASL placement test. Students who have not taken an ASL course in at least two consecutive terms must take the ASL placement test to see if they still have skills and knowledge that will foster success in the next level ASL course.

A student must receive a final grade of “C” or higher in all ASL, IPP, or WBL courses in order to receive credit for that course toward an Interpreter Education A.A.S. (A55300) degree.

What if I only want to learn ASL so I can converse with family, friends, or co-workers?

CPCC offers a certificate in Basic ASL Communication that requires a total of 18 credit hours of study and requires the completion of ASL 111/181, ASL 112/182, ASL 211/281, ASL 212/282, ASL 151, and ASL 253.  At the completion of ASL 212/282 students take the American Sign Language Proficiency Interview (ASLPI) and document their level of ASL proficiency.  It is very important to note that this certificate will not qualify you to work as an interpreter in any setting in the State of NC and does not include any interpreter training.  This certificate is for those who wish to develop and document basic social language proficiency in American Sign Language. Many students will obtain this certificate and then advance into the AAS in Interpreter Education program.