Sign Language Studies at a Glance
- Hourly wages: $15 to $75
- Length of Program:
Two-semester certificate or two-year degree
- Program Location: Belleville Campus
- Program Start Time: Fall and Spring semesters
- Learn practical language communication skills
- Prepare for certification
- Job opportunities in a wide variety of fields
After reviewing the information found on this page, students interested in the SLS program should direct questions to Program Coordinator Karyn Houston.
Sign Language Interpreters:
- Understand the cultures in which they work
- Promote effective cross-cultural communications
- Recognize and adapt to the variations in language usage that exist between the deaf and non-deaf communities
- Clearly relay concepts and ideas between deaf and non-deaf groups and individuals
- Are flexible, outgoing and feel comfortable in front of a group
- Relate effectively to the public and have a command of the English language
Visit the SWIC Career Activities and Employment Center for information on career exploration and mentoring.
The Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf website provides career and certification information.
Refer to the US Department of Labor website for additional career information: Occupational Information Network (O*Net) and the Occupational Outlook Handbook.
Sign language interpreters are employed in a wide variety of areas, including:
- Religious events
- Medical facilities
- Social Services
- Court systems
- Video Relay Interpreting services
- Private businesses
- Performing arts events
- Legal offices
There is a wealth of employment opportunities in the field of interpreting. There is high demand for interpreters in various settings, both locally and nationally. Interpreters may work for an agency or be self-employed.
Sign Language interpreting is a rapidly expanding field, with employment of interpreters and translators projected to increase 46 percent over the 2012-2022 decade. This is much faster than the average for all occupations. A shortage of interpreters and translators meeting the desired skill level of employers means that interpreters for the deaf will continue to have favorable employment prospects.
The settings an interpreter may work in are based on the skill level attained on the national certification exam and/or state regulations regarding practice as an interpreter. Graduates of the Associate in Applied Science degree will be prepared for entry-level, paraprofessional interpreting positions.
Interpreters earn between $15 and $75 per hour. Wages vary depending on the type and location of the interpreting assignment.
There are numerous part-time opportunities for employment in the performing arts, religious services and events. Wages vary depending on the type and location of the interpreting assignment.
The Southwestern Illinois College Sign Language Studies certificate and degree programs are open to any student who is a high school graduate, earned a high school equivalency certificate (GED), or is transferring from an accredited college or university.
Students must complete the following requirements before beginning program courses:
1. Complete the SWIC Steps to Enrollment
Follow the SWIC Steps to Enrollment to begin program courses.
2. Complete the SWIC placement test
The SWIC placement test assesses skills in reading, writing and mathematics. Placement results must qualify the student to enroll in ENG 101 or greater and MATH 94 or greater.
To schedule the SWIC placement test, call or visit the
Testing Center at the Belleville Campus, 618-235-2700, ext. 5182; the Red Bud
Campus 618-282-6682, ext. 8114; or the Sam Wolf Granite City Campus
618-931-0600, ext. 7337. Requirements and recommendations to prepare you
for the exam are located in the Testing Center.
The Southwestern Illinois College Sign Language Studies/Interpreter Training program prepares students to work as interpreters for the deaf or hard of hearing community.
Sign Language interpreting is a highly specialized field requiring an in-depth course of study as offered at SWIC. While the foundation of the curriculum is a commitment to American Sign Language, the professional sign language interpreter is a service provider who must be able to adjust to a broad range of consumer preferences for interpretation along a broad spectrum of communication.
Choose a Program
Southwestern Illinois College offers both a two-semester Sign Language Studies certificate and a two-year Associate in Applied Science Sign Language Studies degree program.
Sign Language/Basic Communication Certificate
Sign Language/Basic Communication Certificate (0024A) Course Sequence
This is an 18-credit hour, two-semester certificate program consisting of sign language courses only.
Those who want a concentrated program of study in only Sign Language courses may enroll in the certificate program. Upon successful completion of the required courses, the student is awarded a certificate of program proficiency.
Sign Language Studies: Interpreter Degree
Sign Language Studies: Interpreter Associate in Applied Science Degree (0024) Course Sequence
This is a 67-credit-hour, two-year degree program which can be completed in four semesters and consists of:
- 17 credit hours of general education courses
- 50 credit hours of sign language courses
The curriculum includes communication, social science, SLS interpreting technical courses and assigned field experiences.
General Education Courses
For the degree program, general education courses can be completed prior to beginning sign language studies courses. These courses can be taken at the Belleville, Sam Wolf Granite City or Red Bud campuses. If general education courses are not completed prior to admission, they must be completed during the semesters indicated. Prerequisites may be required for some courses. Refer to the Class Search link in eSTORM.
Sign Language Studies Courses
Certain courses are only offered once a year, therefore it is highly recommended to meet with the program coordinator to develop a schedule for completing the degree requirements in the proper sequence. Courses are offered in the day or evening at the Belleville Campus only. A grade of “C” or better is required for all courses in the degree.
Field experience courses are completed off campus at various deaf/hard-of-hearing community events. Students will be required to travel outside of the college district for field experience courses and may be required to have background checks and/or drug testing prior. Field experience begins in the second semester of the two-year program.
Sign Language Studies Programs Mission and Goals
View the program Mission and Goals.
The Sign Language Studies degree program consists of general education courses, SLS pre-fix courses and field experiences. The certificate program consists of SLS pre-fix courses and field experiences. Specific course locations depend on the course type.
General Education Courses
General education courses required for the degree program can be taken at the Belleville, Sam Wolf Granite City or Red Bud campuses.
Sign Language Studies Courses
SLS courses required for the degree and certificate programs are only offered at the Belleville Campus.
Field experience courses are completed off campus at various deaf/hard-of-hearing community events. Students will be required to travel outside of the college district for field experience courses and may be required to have background checks and/or drug testing prior.
Participation and Practice
Time, dedication, study, immersion in the deaf/hard-of-hearing community and constant practice is required to develop proficiency in signing and interpreting. The level of skill students attain is directly related to their participation and practice.
For each hour of class time spent in lecture, students should plan to spend two hours outside of class for study time, homework and completing assignments. For each hour of class time spent learning skills, students should spend an equal amount of time outside of class practicing those skills.
Students should check the location and schedule of classes to ensure their own availability and access. Students are responsible for their own transportation and attendance at any of the classes and field experience/practicum assigned by the program.
The following criteria are required of accepted students and all information will be explained in detail at program orientation meetings.
Orientation and Performance:
Students who qualify for this program must attend all required program orientation sessions and be able to perform the essential functions of the job with or without reasonable accommodations. Students are encouraged to meet with the Disability & Access Center to discuss potential issues associated with meeting these requirements.
Students enrolled in the program must follow the requirements for graduation at the time they are admitted and must meet all course, program, degree and sequencing requirements as specified. A grade of “C” or better is required for all courses in the degree. Students are responsible for program policies as listed in each year’s SLS Student Handbook. Students who fail to meet program specific requirements will be dropped from the program.
National Association for the Deaf (NAD) and the
Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) jointly offer certification for general sign interpreters. These examinations are offered throughout the year at various sites in the state and country. The SLS curriculum prepares graduates for this written and performance-based examination.
SWIC has an articulation agreement with MacMurray College, which allows student to enter the bachelor’s program in Interpreter Preparation with junior status. It is recommended that students who are planning to pursue a bachelor’s degree contact MacMurray College to confirm readiness and review the transfer guide requirements.
For more information about this program, please contact:
Academic Advising/Counseling Center
618-235-2700, ext. 5206