Interpreting is a highly rewarding career that allows professionals to work with and for the Deaf community. While the profession is rewarding, it comes with its fair share of uncertainties.

As an ASL interpreter, you might wonder about the different ways to advance your career. Depending on the career path you choose, you can shape your career in several ways. Knowing more about your options and making an informed decision is essential to having a fulfilling career. 

Below, we discuss 9 different career paths you can choose from.    

9 different career paths for interpreters 


Medical ASL interpreters facilitate communication between the Deaf patient and their healthcare providers. Due to a communication barrier, patients might be unable to describe their medical history and symptoms clearly or understand the diagnosis. The healthcare professional, too, relies on the interpreter for sharing information about the course of treatment, possible side effects, and the necessary precautions with the patient. 

The scope of work can extend to inpatient, outpatient, and routine appointments. This is a highly specialized career path, requiring knowledge about medical terminologies and mannerisms. To pursue this, you need specific certifications and supervised experience. 

Mental health

Another highly challenging career path, Mental Health Interpreting helps Deaf patients access mental healthcare services. As a professional pursuing this path, you can assist in the diagnosis and treatment of patients. Owing to the highly sensitive nature of this job, a common trait found in successful interpreters is emotional intelligence.

Mental health interpreters often handle cases with triggering issues like violence, abuse, addiction, and trauma. Due to this, you must be able to differentiate your emotions from those of the client. Further, you must sensitize yourself to various subjects to give an unbiased and informed interpretation.

Here, the scope of work extends to different therapy settings, including group therapy, hypnotherapy, family therapy, and interpersonal therapy. 


Conference Interpreting often involves simultaneous interpretation at large-scale events. A skilled professional can help Deaf individuals participate in such events. 

Sometimes, conferences can comprise discussions about complicated subjects and may continue for long durations. Depending on the complexity and duration, several interpreters might be required to work together. 

Conferences offer many opportunities for communication, all of which can use interpretation services. If you pursue this path, you can look forward to bridging the communication gap during presentations, networking opportunities, workshops, and breakout sessions. 

To be proficient in a conference setting, you must be adept at different interpreting styles, depending on the situation. 


As a business interpreter, you must be well-versed with common industry parlance, and business functionality and operations. This is one of the more fast-paced and dynamic career paths. Business interpreting aims to help companies attract and sustain diverse groups of employees. 

Here, the scope of work includes facilitating communication during interviews, employee training and workshops, board meetings, innovation meetings, team building exercises, and everyday interactions with the Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees. 

Social services

Social service interpreters work with social workers to uplift Deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals. Social workers deal with pressing issues that allow no room for miscommunication. An interpreter, thus, steps in and bridges any communication gap that may hinder the work of the welfare worker. 

As a professional pursuing this path, you can expect to deal with subjects like foster care, custody, mental wellness, and the safety and well-being of Deaf children, among other things. 


Media interpreters work in live news, press conferences, and interviews. They handle a wide array of subjects. These professionals allow for equal and easy distribution of public information. 

Often, media interpreters are skilled at simultaneous interpreting as they need to interpret the spoken word in real time. Compared to the other career paths, the work done here is witnessed by a larger audience. This exposure makes it essential for media interpreters to be culturally competent and accurate in their interpretation work. 


Another highly specialized career path, Legal Interpreting requires specialized and supervised training. To practice legal interpretation, you must acquire the necessary certifications and experience.

These professionals possess knowledge of law enforcement and the legal system. They help various parties, including law firms, courts, all divisions and units of law enforcement, the State, and the Department of Correction. 

Further, their services are essential during several stages of acquiring justice, including testimonies, interviews, interrogations, investigations, court proceedings, and client-attorney meetings. 


Escort interpreters accompany their Deaf clients on trips to give them a better traveling experience. Additionally, they work in various settings, including airports, hotels, cruise ships, tourist attractions, business trips, restaurants, public transport, and emergencies, among other things. 

These interpreters specialize in aiding communication during personal and professional trips. If you pursue this path, you must possess knowledge about the destination’s culture and language. 


Educational ASL interpreters play a vital role in supporting the education of Deaf children.

They create easy and equal access to educational opportunities. As an educational interpreter, you would interpret classroom instructions, lessons, and interactions with teachers, staff, and other children.  

Tips to advance in your career as an interpreter

There are several ways in which you can advance your career and grow professionally, including- 

  1. Seeking specialization
  2. Finding full-time opportunities
  3. Learning more languages

Seek specialization 

As discussed, interpreting offers various career paths to choose from. Some of these paths do not require certifications or necessary training. However, some highly specialized areas, including medical and legal interpreting, have such requirements. 

To gain a competitive advantage, you must consider choosing a specialization and focusing solely on that. This strategy can help you create a niche and become an expert. 

After choosing a specialization, you must work to attain the necessary certifications, training, and experience needed to work in that setting. You can also find a mentor or become part of an interpreters’ community to support your growth and learning. 

Find full-time opportunities

Many interpreters start their professional journey by freelancing. They depend on finding random gigs and projects to progress their career. Freelancing can be a good option for those who want more flexibility in their profession. It, however, can be an unstable option. 

If you are looking for a more stable alternative, finding a full-time interpreting job might be the answer you’ve been looking for. Join job portals like LinkedIn to find a full-time job that suits you. Sometimes, freelancing might also lead you to a full-time opportunity. If the client is satisfied with your interpreting services, they might offer you a full-time role. 

Learn more languages

Generally, ASL interpreters have exemplary linguistic skills limited to English and American Sign Language. A great way to expand your horizons would be to learn more languages. 

You become eligible for more opportunities than before by introducing another language to your portfolio. For instance, if you learn Korean, you could accept projects and clients that want an interpretation from Korean to ASL. Similarly, by learning French Sign Language (LSF), you could work on projects that require interpreting from ASL to LSF. 

In this way, the more languages you learn (and learn well), the broader your horizons become. Professionals aspiring to work internationally can benefit the most from this tip. 


ASL interpreting is an exciting profession that offers you a multitude of career paths to choose from. Irrespective of the path you choose, you will find a sense of fulfillment in your work. 

If you are a certified ASL interpreter looking to join an agency that gives you access to numerous clients and a supportive community of other interpreters, look no further. Unspoken Language Services is a boutique agency dedicated to serving the Deaf and hard-of-hearing community through outstanding interpretation services. Join our team to get access to clients in various settings, including medical, business, mental health, legal conference, workers’ compensation, and education.  

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