American Sign Language: Degrees and Careers for Military and Veterans
Did you know that you can take American Sign Language (ASL) to fulfill the 2nd-language requirement in college? In fact, ASL can be found as Certificate, Associate, Bachelor’s, and Master’s degree programs. ASL is a wonderful field of study for students seeking an interesting and fulfilling major that can lead to a wide variety of profitable careers.
What can you do with an American Sign Language degree?
Open up an entirely new avenue of education and communication with a degree (or certificate) in ASL! Perhaps you’re merely looking to fulfill a second-language requirement for your studies or hoping to add this stellar skill into your CV for a “leg-up” in a competitive job market. Maybe you’re entirely (or at least partially) altruistic and are hoping to use your newfound ASL skills to communicate better with a wider variety of people. Acquiring fluency in American Sign Language is a wonderful opportunity for students to earn a valuable certificate or degree that will be an asset in the job market and for future educational endeavors.
Is an ASL degree hard?
Earning a degree or certificate in American Sign Language is not difficult! In fact, ASL is recommended to students that are seeking to study a second language but have shown difficulty in acquiring proficiency in previous language studies. Let’s face it, some of us just don’t have the synaptic connections that allow us to pick up a second language such as Spanish, French, German, etc. Those of us that have struggled for years studying a second language don’t believe the theories on a language acquisition tipping point or that once we acquire one second language we will suddenly become a polyglot. This bilingual thing is hard! But sign language….well now, here’s something that can be a realistic, achievable goal! No; an ASL degree is not hard!
Getting a Degree in ASL
Certificate in American Sign Language
A Certificate in American Sign Language typically focuses on three skills—comprehension, production (signing), and knowledge of Deaf culture. With a Certificate in ASL students will be qualified to pursue entry level careers in a variety of fields including:
Associate Degree in American Sign Language
An Associate Degree in ASL will further develop a student’s proficiency in communication through ASL. Students in ASL will also further develop their understanding and appreciation of Deaf culture and communities. Students will also be academically prepared should they choose to continue their college career to earn a Bachelor’s Degree.
Jobs with an Associate Degree in ASL
Teacher Assistant- Work with a licensed teacher to give students additional attention and instruction. Median Annual Wage: $29,000.
Research Assistant- Assist in laboratory, survey, and other research. May help prepare findings for publication and assist analysis, quality control, or data management. Median Annual Wage: $54,000.
GI Bill-approved Schools Offering an Associate Degree in ASL
Ready to start your Associate Degree in ASL? Check out these great programs at our partner schools:
Lakeland Community College- Offers an Associate Degree in Applied American Sign Language. Lakeland Community College has GI Bill approved programs, offers credit for military experience, and awards credit for the CLEP exam. Pasadena City College is a MyCAA approved school and is approved for Tuition Assistance.
Pasadena City College- Offers an Associate in Arts in ASL and a Certificate of Achievement in ASL. Pasadena City College has GI Bill approved programs, offers credit for military experience, and awards credit for the CLEP and DSST exams. Pasadena City College is a MyCAA approved school and is approved for Tuition Assistance.
Bachelor’s in American Sign Language
A Bachelor’s in ASL offers students the foundations for academic and career success. In a comprehensive undergraduate program students will:
- Develop proficiency in communication through ASL
- Develop effective communications with Deaf persons in a variety of settings such as teaching, human services, recreation, and healthcare
- Foster an understanding and appreciation of cultural diversity in Deaf communities and populations
- Enhance their employment opportunities and skills in ASL
- Cultivate academic opportunities and skills for entry into advanced ASL studies
- Succeed in an interpreter training program and certification examination for national licensing
A Bachelor’s in ASL will help students be successful in college, the workplace, and in their personal endeavors. Upon graduation, students will be well-prepared to enter the workforce in a variety of careers and/or pursue a graduate degree.
Jobs with a Bachelor’s in American Sign Language
Interpreter- Convert information to ASL. Interpreters work in settings such as schools, hospitals, courtrooms, meeting rooms, and conference centers. Some work for translation and interpretation companies, individual organizations, or private clients. Median Annual Salary: $52,000.
Secondary Education Teacher- Instruct students in fundamental skills. Median Annual Salary: $55,000.
Instructional Coordinator- Oversee school curriculums and teaching standards. They develop instructional material, implement it, and assess its effectiveness. Median Annual Salary: $67,000.
GI Bill-approved Schools Offering an American Sign Language Bachelor’s Degree
Ready to start your Bachelor’s in ASL? Check out these great programs at our partner schools:
Framingham State University – Offers a Bachelor’s in American Sign Language. Framingham State University has GI Bill approved programs, offers credit for military experience, is approved for Tuition Assistance, and awards credit for both the CLEP and DSST exams. Framingham State University is a MyCAA approved school and proudly participates in the Yellow Ribbon program.
Maryville College– Offers a Bachelor’s in American Sign Language-English Interpreting and a Bachelor’s in American Sign Language and Deaf Studies. Maryville College has GI Bill approved programs, offers credit for military experience, and awards credit for both the CLEP and DSST exams. Maryville College is a Yellow Ribbon school and is approved for Tuition Assistance.
Master’s in American Sign Language
A graduate degree in ASL will help students further build their communication, research, and critical thinking skills.
Students will be able demonstrate their expert knowledge and proficiency in ASL in a wide variety of settings. Students will also demonstrate a vast knowledge and understanding of Deaf communities and cultures. Students should have a well-developed resume of work (paid and/or volunteer) in and supporting Deaf communities.
A Master’s is a popular choice for those choosing career paths such as research, writing, or teaching.
For those seeking opportunities teaching ASL students, concurrent programs for the appropriate educator certifications are ideal.
Jobs with a Master’s in American Sign Language
Postsecondary teacher– Instruct students in ASL courses beyond the high school level. Median Annual Salary: $80,000.
Postsecondary education administrator- Oversee student services, academics, and faculty research at colleges and universities. Median Annual Salary: $98,000.
Author- Develop written content for various types of media on topics of ASL. Median Annual Salary: $122,000.
Is an ASL degree worth it?
Yes, an ASL degree is worth it and for so many different reasons! An American Sign Language degree is a great asset to attain: personally, to be able to connect with people; professionally, as an additional desirable skill all employers are able to utilize; and educationally, for a degree that holds its value and opens up opportunities for a great career!
Let’s not forget, data consistently shows that those with higher levels of education earn more. Additionally, those with higher levels of education consistently have lower rates of unemployment when compared with workers who have less education.
Over one’s working lifetime, earnings for those with bachelor’s degrees are twice that of those with just high school diplomas. Education pays, and it pays to be educated!
*All statistics and calculations from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. For more information click here.
About the author
Born in SoCal yet raised Tampa, Florida - Leah earned her undergraduate BA in Liberal Studies from the University of Central Florida. Leah earned her MA in the MALAS at San Diego State University, while also completing a graduate teaching certificate in English for Secondary Education. An avid traveler, she has visited more than 60 countries. With the birth of her son Spencer in 2012, Leah embarked on her biggest adventure (yet) as parent and Coast Guard wife.