Interpreter Education

Interpreter Education

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. Instructors encourage students to acquire and master ASL both through classroom instruction and diverse contact within the Deaf Community. The program uses the approach that interpreters are allies within the Deaf Community and that interpreting is a complex cognitive process. We recognize that not all deaf people use ASL. We encourage students to broaden their competence and expertise through on-going association with a variety of Deaf persons and a commitment to life-long learning.

What You Will Learn

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. All this is done in a manner that demonstrates our respect and appreciation for student, Deaf, and non-deaf consumer diversity. After completing our program, you can actually continue your education in interpreting all the way up to the doctoral level if you wish.

Graduates of the program are prepared to obtain 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 or higher. Typically, students graduating from our program have been able to attain that outcome or better.

ASL is as different from spoken/written English as any other language is such as French, Spanish, or German. So, when Deaf people who use ASL are interacting with hearing people who speak English, they frequently need the services of an ASL-English Interpreter to understand one another. Whether the Deaf person is the teacher or the student, the medical care provider or the patient, the supervisor or the employee, the service provider or the consumer, the ASL-English Interpreter is the one that enables the communication to be mutually understood. An ASL-English interpreter must understand the meaning and intention of something being said or signed in one language and accurately convey that meaning or intention in the other language.  ASL-English Interpreters must have excellent fluency in both English and American Sign Language, excellent concentration abilities, good public speaking abilities, the ability to comprehend language whether presented auditorily or visually, the ability to express language whether verbally or gesturally, strong general knowledge of the world, the ability to be comfortable in different environments with people from different cultural backgrounds, and the ability to make well-reasoned ethical and linguistic decisions. Interpreting is an exciting and challenging career for those who are engaged life-long learners, intellectually curious, enjoy studying languages and learning about different cultures, and enjoy making it possible for people from different backgrounds and communities to be able to interact together and understand one another.  Skilled and qualified ASL-English Interpreters are in high demand.

Student Learning Objectives 

At the completion of the interpreter education program, you will be able to:

ASL Communication and Bi-Cultural Competency

Carry on an extended conversation in ASL elaborating in details and will be able to present in formal register in both ASL and English. 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. You will be able to describe the central differences between American culture and American Deaf culture and apply your understanding to the contextualization of your message transfer work. 

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. Further, you will be able to engage in self-analysis of your meaning transfer work by identifying patterns of effective behavior and areas that require further skill development. 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 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. You will be able to articulate your response both in written English and in ASL. You will apply demand control schema analysis to a variety of interpreted scenarios and analyze scenarios to develop appropriate control responses. 

Professional Behaviors

Present yourself professionally to the business and consumer community and will illustrate professional behaviors and demonstrate a clear understanding of the role and responsibilities of a professional interpreter and a commitment to professional behavior within the field. 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. 

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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, providing our students with a clear pathway to complete their four-year degree in ASL-English interpreting. By further honing the fine skills acquired at Central Piedmont, students who continue their studies at Gallaudet will enjoy increased employment and leadership opportunities, becoming practitioners who can serve the Deaf and hard of hearing community in more challenging and advanced settings. Central Piedmont's articulation agreement with Gallaudet University not only addresses the national demand for more skilled interpreters, it also gives Central Piedmont students an opportunity to transfer 100 % of their academic credits to Gallaudet University, where they have the opportunity to live and study in a Deaf space with Deaf people. This special learning environment will equip our graduates with the knowledge and skills needed to one day start their own businesses, work in a government setting, and be successful in a variety of environments. The bachelor’s degree students earn at Gallaudet University qualifies them to sit for the National Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) Certification, the credential most sought after by employers, and qualify them for full licensure under North Carolina law. Currently, Central Piedmont graduates may obtain provisional licensure. Earning the industry’s credential and licensure will give youthe best opportunity to achieve success in this complex and ever-evolving profession.

All ASL instructors are native ASL speakers, American Sign Language Teachers Association (ASLTA) Certified, and have a master's degree. All interpreting (IPP) instructors have a master's degree, National RID Certification, and NCITLB state licensure as ASL-English Interpreters. Our faculty are also distinguished in their field and recognized nationally for their excellence in ASL instruction. For example:

  • James Wilson is vice president of the American Sign Language Teachers' Association (ASLTA)
  • Donnie Dove is vice president of the NC Association of the Deaf (NCAD)
  • Beverly Woodel is vice president of the NC ASL Teachers' Association (NCASLTA) and has been awarded the NC School for the Deaf "Imprint Award" for her volunteer work as president of the Historic Rumisell Museum Society

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. Consider trying to learn to interpret in any language. You would not attempt to interpret between Spanish and English without having good bilingual skills in both languages. American Sign Language is no different. Students must have bilingual and bicultural skills in both ASL and English to begin to have the foundation needed to learn to interpret. We have found that, by requiring our students to complete at least four semesters of ASL instruction and interaction with the Deaf community and demonstrate an ASLPI of intermediate or better, our students are better prepared to learn interpreting skills. The approach of requiring students to present some mastery of ASL skills prior to learning to interpret works best for student outcomes and preparation to work in the field. Our students come from diverse backgrounds. About 50% of our students already have a bachelor's, other associate, or other advanced degree prior to enrolling in our program. Students in our program successfully attain employment working as interpreters 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 4 to 5 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

    Because you have to first learn American Sign Language as a second language to become an ASL Interpreter, the associate degree typically takes four years of part-time study (9–11 credits per term) to complete. The first four semesters are spent acquiring ASL skills to an intermediate or better level. We do not accept ASL classes from non-credit continuing education programs. You must first successfully complete the ASL foundational courses before you can take interpreter education program courses. Once foundational ASL courses are completed, you will attend the remainder of the interpreting program as a cohort in a lockstep curriculum that typically requires you to be on campus all day for two days out of the week. Most semesters you will take between nine and 11 credits of academic load. For detailed information on interpreter education program options, courses, eligibility, and requirements, visit the Central Piedmont Community College catalog.

    For course sequencing reasons, it is not recommended that you take summer ASL courses if you wish to pursue the associate degree. Required CORE courses could be taken in the summer, but this may not be advisable for financial aid recipients. Check with financial aid and speak to the ASL/Interpreting Department prior to registering for summer courses.

    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 your last year, you typically have work-based learning on the days you 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.

    ASL Course Placement

    Even if you grew up signing, 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. Please keep in mind that even if you took ASL at another institution, there may have been different lab requirements and ASL curricula vary widely across institutions, so you will need to take ASL placement tests to determine the best course for you to take to foster your success in the program and to prepare you, should you desire, to be more successful in the interpreter education courses. Even if you took ASL courses here at Central Piedmont, you must take a placement test if two consecutive terms (fall, spring, or summer) have elapsed since your last ASL course to demonstrate that you have retained the knowledge and skills necessary to move to the next level.

    • To place out of ASL 111 and ASL 181, you must pass a grammar and culture test and a receptive skills test.
    • To place out of ASL 112 and ASL 182 or higher, you must first place out of ASL 111 and ASL 181 and then take an additional grammar and culture test and a receptive skills test.

    Upon passing this additional test, you will be videotaped having a conversation in ASL with a member of the faculty.  The conversation will become progressively more advanced in ASL structure and grammar and skills. The video will be retained and reviewed by members of the ASL and interpreter education faculty to determine the best placement for you. You will be notified of placement decisions within one to two weeks of testing.

    If you place out of ASL 212 and ASL 282 by virtue of the interview process and wish to begin taking interpreting courses, you must then take the American Sign Language Proficiency Interview (ASLPI) and pass at a level intermediate or higher to begin taking IPP courses. An ASLPI score will not be considered valid if it is more than one year old. If you test out of ASL 212 and ASL 282 but do not obtain the required ASLPI score, you may register for ASL 221 and attempt to take the ASLPI again after an additional semester of ASL studies. The cost for the ASLPI  is included in ASL 282 lab fees. However, if you take the ASLPI  independently of ASL 282 you will pay a fee for the exam; the exam is administered at Central Piedmont and independently rated by ASL Diagnostic and Evaluation Services (ASL-DES) at Gallaudet University.

    Scheduling a Placement Test

    In order to take the placement test, you will need a student ID number. If you are not a current student of Central Piedmont, please apply and enroll into the college. After you have enrolled at Central Piedmont, contact Donnie Dove at to schedule a time for taking the test. The ASL placement test 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 test. Plan for two hours to complete all placement testing procedures. You will be notified within two weeks of your placement. All placement interview decisions are made jointly by the faculty and are final. 

    Credit by Examination

    Currently, there is no credit by examination offered for ASL courses. Should you place out of any ASL courses, you may be required to take substitution ASL or interpreter education courses as approved by the interpreter education department in order to have sufficient credits to satisfy graduation requirements.

    Language Policy

    The official language of the interpreter education program is American Sign Language (ASL). The purpose of this language policy is to facilitate language development for all students as rapidly 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 or 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 they are socializing and studying with their classmates and with all faculty and staff in the program.

  • Locations

    Cato Campus

    Foundational courses are typically offered in the evenings and 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 co-op 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 to students during lab hours. Students enrolled in ASL 181, ASL 182, ASL 281 and ASL 282, and in IPP courses use the 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 student language development and interpreting practice.

  • Course Delivery Methods


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

  • Licensing Information

    Know that 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 3.0 or greater. Interpreters with an Associate in Applied Science 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 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 3.0 or better.

  • 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 Faculty Advisor

    Students at Central Piedmont have a faculty advisor for each program of study offered. Find your faculty advisor based on your last name:

    • Martha Ingel: last names A–E
    • Ginger Leon: last names F–J
    • James Wilson: last names K–O
    • Beverly Woodel: last names P–U
    • Jay Pittman: last names V–Z