Ryan has been showing interest in sign language and so I thought I would seek out a professional in that career path. We may even take a class together. I emailed Tina and she was kind enough to fill out an interview questionnaire! As I have said before, sometimes all you have to ask!
Q: What is the title of your profession?
A: I am a Nationally Certified Sign Language Interpreter, CI/CT, NAD V, SC:L
(CI – Certificate of Interpretation, CT – Certificate of Transliteration, National Association for the Deaf Level V/V, SC:L – Specialist Certificate: Legal – all recognized by our National Governing Body, Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID).
Q: What do you do?
A: Every day and every week is different. Some weeks I am interpreting between a Deaf people (s) and Hearing (s) consumer (s) in the operating room, surgery, mental health situations, job trainings, staff meetings, field trips, colleges, k-12, legal situations, court, jails, attorney/client, dentists, doctors, realtors, and any situation that you would encounter.
Q: Have you always worked in this field?
A: I’ve been interpreting since 1993.
Q: If no, what was your prior profession and what made you change your profession?
A: I worked at the Governor Baxter School for the Deaf, Falmouth, ME for a few years and learned sign language on the job. I then became proficient and started taking my National tests (RID) of which I hold CI/CT, NAD V and SC:L.
Q: Why did you choose this profession?
A: I found sign language fascinating and interesting.
Q: How would you define your profession?
A: Varied, interesting, challenging, learning, fascinating, knowledgeable.
Q: Did you go to college or a trade school for this profession?
A: I did not, but USM now hosts a 4-year Linguistics/Interpreting Degree which many people are pursuing. You must have a BA or higher to be a Nationally Certified Sign Language Interpreter.
Q: How long did you go to school? Where? What was your degree in?
A: My degree is in Communications with a Major in PR and a Minor in Media. 4 years.
Q: Do you use your degree in your job? In what way?
A: Yes. Language, acquisition of terms, communication skills, advocating for equal access, compliance with ADA, people skills, world knowledge.
Q: Can your degree be used as a basis for any other professions? What types?
A: For people who receive a Linguistics/Interpreting degree, they can become Interpreters, Language Experts, Speech, Brain Functions analysis and much more.
Q: Does your job require continued education? What type? How much?
A: We must maintain our CEU’s to keep our national certification (RID) and our State of Maine Licensure, continuing education in the field, morphology, grammar, finger spelling, new signs, new technology, new trends in the field, legal studies, mathematical studies, cultural studies, etc.
Q: What is a day in the life of your job? Does it change day to day? Do you work with the public?
A: (see above). It is very, very different everyday.
Q: What do you think makes a person successful in this profession?
A: Having a tremendous vocabulary, homonyms, synonyms, world knowledge, well-read, personable, friendly, flexible, adaptive, advocate.
Q: Does your profession require travel? How much?
A: I travel about 35000-5000 miles a year from Old Orchard Beach to Bangor, Boston, NH but mostly work Augusta to Kittery.
Q: What is the typical schedule/hours?
A: I am self employed/contractor, so I make my own schedule. I tend to work about 30-40 hours per week.
Q: What is the most rewarding part of your job?
A: Providing effective communication between two parties who do not share the same language.
Q: What do you dislike about your job?
A: No snow days. No sick time. Paying quarterly taxes.
Q: What advice would you give to a child/student that is considering this profession?
A: Take a sign language class. You will know if you have a knack for it after the first semester. If you do, run with it!! We need interpreters!! You need to have good hand/eye coordination, large vocabulary, and be a quick thinker.
Q: If you had to do it all over again, would you choose the same profession?
Q: Are you having fun?
A: Definitely!!! I’ve met Presidents of the USA, Interpreted for Cruises to exotic ports of call, traveled, met many great people, learned a lot, seen a lot, and continue to wake up with a smile “most” days!
Q: Do you receive a pension or have a company sponsored 401k?
A: I work part time as a Video Relay Interpreter in a call center which provides interpreting services for Deaf and Hearing consumers via the TV (visual), and I am able to tap into their 401k. I work at this call center about 15-20 hours per month.
Links you may want to visit to learn more about Interpreting:
www.merid.org (Maine Chapter of RID)