Interpreter Education

Skilled and qualified ASL-English interpreters are in high demand. The Central Piedmont interpreter education program is founded on the belief that Deaf people constitute a linguistic and cultural minority group. American Sign Language (ASL) is the natural and indigenous language of the Deaf Community. Our program uses the approach that interpreters are allies within the Deaf Community and that interpreting is a complex cognitive process.

What You Will Learn

We recognize that not all Deaf people use ASL. We encourage you to broaden your competence and expertise through ongoing association with Deaf persons of diverse backgrounds and a commitment to life-long learning.

The interpreter education program provides a challenging and contemporary academic environment that fosters self-awareness, self-discovery, and active learning. You will acquire the knowledge and master the skills, as well as develop the attitudes, necessary to work as an entry-level interpreter.

When you graduate, you will be prepared to earn a provisional license to interpret in the community and/or to take the Educational Interpreters Performance Assessment (EIPA) to work in k-12 educational settings in NC. Currently, the EIPA requirement is a level 3.3 or higher. Typically, students graduating from our program have been able to attain that outcome or better. The state of North Carolina requires that you be licensed to work as an interpreter.

ASL-English Interpreters must have excellent fluency in both English and ASL excellent concentration abilities, good public speaking abilities, the ability to comprehend language (whether presented auditorily or visually), the ability to express language (verbally or gesturally), strong general knowledge of the world, the ability to be comfortable in different environments with people from different cultures and backgrounds, and the ability to make well-reasoned ethical and linguistic decisions.

Student Learning Objectives

When you finish the interpreter education program, you will be able to demonstrate ASL language and bi-cultural competency, apply meaning-based interpretations and translations, and use professional behaviors and ethical decision making skills in your career.

ASL Communication and Bi-Cultural Competency

You will be able to differentiate and describe cultural differences of a variety of cultures with a special emphasis on mainstream American culture and American Deaf culture.

Meaning Transfer Skills

Demonstrate entry-level meaning transfer skills between ASL and English in both consecutive and simultaneous modalities in a variety of genres, registers, and settings with a variety of consumers. You will be able to analyze and transcribe ASL and English texts for salient linguistic features, non-manual markers, goal and intent of the message, illocutionary force, and will compare your interpretations to the original source text to critique your work for successful transfer of meaning.

Ethical Decision Making Skills

When presented with an ethical scenario related to sign language interpreting, you will be able to analyze the key elements of the scenario, determine whether it is a moral temptation or ethical dilemma, identify stakeholders, formulate potential responses, apply the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) Code of Professional Conduct, and predict the potential impact of your response considering both short- and long-term implications of your response on the primary stakeholders.

Professional Behaviors

You will be able to communicate effectively and professionally with peers, colleagues, consumers, and employers. You will demonstrate a commitment to life-long learning by formulating continuing education and professional development plans in pursuit of career goals within the field of sign language interpreting or related fields.

Apply now

Why Choose Central Piedmont

We are proud to be the first community college in the nation to enter into an articulation agreement with Gallaudet University's Bachelor's in Interpreting program. This agreement addresses the national demand for more skilled ASL interpreters and gives you a:

  • clear pathway to complete your four-year degree in ASL-English interpreting
  • opportunity to transfer 100% of your academic credits to Gallaudet University
  • opportunity to live and study in a Deaf space with Deaf people

All Central Piedmont ASL instructors use ASL to communicate and hold a master’s degree, specifically in Deaf studies, ASL pedagogy, and/or ASL studies. Our instructors hold national RID certification and North Carolina Interpreters and Transliterators Licensing Board (NCITL) state licensure as ASL-English Interpreters; most are certified members of the American Sign Language Teachers Association (ASLTA).

Our interpreter education program is one of the few Associate in Applied Science degree programs that, while taking longer to complete, places a heavy emphasis on ASL acquisition prior to teaching interpreting skills. You must have bilingual and bicultural skills in both ASL and English to begin to have the foundation needed to learn to interpret. You will successfully attain employment working as an interpreter in the community, in K-12 and post secondary educational environments, and in video relay. Many of our students successfully complete National Certification in Interpreting within four to five years of graduating from the program.

You will also have the opportunity to participate in the student iASL Club.

Real World Education

At Central Piedmont, your education goes beyond what you learn in class. We offer numerous opportunities for you to enhance your learning — and to make friends, network, and pursue your passions — through clubs and organizations, sports, events and activities, leadership opportunities, job experience, volunteer experiences, visual and performing arts, and even international experiences.

ASL Interpreter Careers

Interpreters work with people who do not share a common language so that they can communicate with one another in a wide variety of settings. Many Deaf people in Northern America use American Sign Language (ASL) to communicate. The diverse environments where interpreters work include business, government, medical, mental health, legal, performing arts, religious, video relay, and video remote interpreting. Interpreters also may be found working with Deaf and hard of hearing students in k-12 and post-secondary educational settings. Interpreters may have their own business and work as independent contractors, or interpreters may be employed by educational institutions. Visit Central Piedmont’s Career Coach for detailed interpreter career opportunities, salary information, and job openings.

Career Coach

The Details

  • Program Options

    Earn an Associate in Applied Science - ASL interpreting or obtain a certificate in ASL only. The college catalog lists the interpreter education program options, courses, eligibility, and requirements currently available at Central Piedmont. If you would like information on opportunities to transfer associate degree credit to a four-year institution, please visit the Transfer Resource Center.

    Visiting Students

    If you wish to transfer interpreter education course credit back to your home institution, explore how to enroll at Central Piedmont as a visiting student.

    Corporate and Continuing Education

    Central Piedmont's Corporate and Continuing Education provides non-credit, non-degree courses and programs, including job skills, industry-focused career training, certificates, certifications, professional licensure, and personal enrichment. Day, evening, weekend, and online opportunities are available.

    College and Career Readiness

    If you are looking for programs to gain the knowledge or skills necessary to finish a high school degree or to get a job, visit Central Piedmont's College and Career Readiness.

    College Credit for High School Students

    Visit Career and College Promise to learn about opportunities for high school students to earn college credit at Central Piedmont.

  • Interpreter Education Program Requirements and Suggested Course Sequence

    Because you have to first learn ASL to become an ASL interpreter, the associate degree typically takes four years of part-time study (9–11 credits per term) to complete. Most semesters, you will take between nine and 11 credits:

    You will spend the first four semesters acquiring ASL skills to an intermediate or better level. Once you complete foundational ASL courses, you will do the remainder of the interpreting program as a cohort in a lockstep curriculum that typically requires you to be on campus all day, two days a week. If you plan to earn the associate degree, we do not recommend that you take summer ASL classes for course sequencing reasons.

    For detailed information on interpreter education program options, courses, eligibility, and requirements, visit the Central Piedmont Community College catalog.

    ASL Course Placement

    Even if you grew up as a heritage signer or interacting with Deaf family members, you will be required to take an ASL placement interview to determine the best course for you to take. If it has been two consecutive terms or more since your last ASL course, you will need to demonstrate that you have retained the knowledge and skills necessary to move to the next level. Upon passing this additional interview, you will be videotaped having a conversation in ASL with a member of the faculty. ASL/interpreter education faculty will keep and review the video to determine the best placement for you. You will be notified of your placement decision within one to two weeks of testing.

    If you do not already have college level ASL credit, you do not need to schedule a placement interview. You can enroll in ASL 111/181 to begin your ASL learning experience.

    Schedule a Placement Interview

    In order to take the placement interview, you will need a student ID number. If you are not a current Central Piedmont student, please apply to the college. After you have enrolled at Central Piedmont, contact Donnie Dove to schedule a time for taking the interview. 

    If you do not already have college level ASL credit, you should not schedule a placement interview. Instead, you should begin with ASL 111/181.

    The ASL interview is administered in the ASL Lab on the third floor of the Cato III Building on Cato Campus. Be sure to bring your Central Piedmont student ID card and transcripts from your previous college/university with you to the ASL placement interview. Plan for two hours to complete all placement interview procedures. The interview may be in person or you may also interview by Zoom if you have access to an appropriate computer, webcam, and high speed internet service. All placement interview decisions are made jointly by the faculty and are final.

    Sign Language Proficiency Interview (SLPI)

    To progress into interpreter training classes, you must take the sign language proficiency interview at the end of your ASL 212/282 course passing at an intermediate level or higher. The cost of the interview is included in your ASL 282 lab fees. Sign language proficiency interview scores a year old or older are not valid.

    Language Policy

    ASL is the official language of the interpreter education program. The purpose of this policy is to facilitate as fast a language development for all students as possible. At Central Piedmont, we want to create an environment that is as close to an immersion environment as possible. Once in the interpreter education program, you should use ASL, gestural, or written communication in the classroom, in the ASL lab, at all Central Piedmont-sponsored Deaf community events (PDF document), and when any Deaf individuals are in your presence. You are also strongly encouraged to continue to use ASL in the halls and public spaces of the college, when you are socializing and studying with your classmates, and with all faculty and staff in the program.

  • Locations and Course Delivery Methods

    In-person classes and labs for the interpreter education program are held at the Cato Campus.

    Foundational courses are typically offered both in the evenings and during the day at multiple locations to accommodate students taking ASL for modern language credit only. All other courses are offered only at the Cato Campus and during the day, as most interpreting work-based learning opportunities are available in the day time.

    Courses available and their schedules can change each semester. Check the interpreter education program options, courses, eligibility, and requirements each semester.

    ASL Lab (Cato III Building, Room 316)

    Lab facilitators are Deaf native language users. They provide personalized assistance and provide clarification on assignments during lab hours. ASL tutoring is also available to students currently enrolled in the program. You can use the lab stations to complete a variety of tasks. ASL students and interpreting students have separate labs to complete their work. All the labs are outfitted with state-of-the-art software and iMac workstations to foster language development and interpreting practice.

  • Licensing Information

    The state of North Carolina 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 3.3 or greater. An Associate in Applied Science in interpreting is one of the steps to qualify to obtain a provisional license that must be renewed annually and then converted to a full license.

    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 obtain National Interpreter Certification (NIC) through the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID). In order to sit for the National Interpreter Certification exam, candidates must have a bachelor’s degree in any field of study or the equivalent of a bachelor's 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 Central Piedmont with an associate 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 3.3 or better by North Carolina Department of Public Education regulations to begin working in North Carolina public schools as an educational interpreter.

  • Costs and Aid

    Central Piedmont provides real-world, affordable, hands-on education and career training. Learn how much it costs to attend Central Piedmont. Financial aid and scholarships are available.

  • Related Programs

  • Admitted Students: Find Your Advisor

    If you are currently enrolled and taking classes, log in to Watermark or download the Watermark Student App to find your assigned academic advisor.

    If you do not have an advisor, you can: