The College of Charleston is the only institution in the nation offering a Master’s degree in bilingual interpreting during a widespread shortage of court interpreters. Cases are being reversed, rescheduled and retried in nearly every state because of the shortage of qualified interpreters, according to the National Center for State Courts.
Demand is steadily increasing for the College of Charleston’s Master of Arts degree in bilingual interpreting (36 credits) as well as the graduate certificates available in medical and health care interpreting and bilingual legal interpreting (12 credits). Applications for the legal interpreting certificate have doubled in size over just the past year.
Graduate student Lydia Lester is in her first semester of the program and says the career opportunities made the decision easy. “I’m interested in law, but didn’t want to go to law school and I lived in South America for three years. I love the idea of combining both of those interests. Plus it is good to know that I’ll have a job as soon as I graduate.”
To become certified, court interpreters must have a high level of proficiency of two languages and must past a difficult test. Once certified, court interpreters can make anywhere from $59,000 to $89,000 according to recent job postings.
“Our graduates are in a very unique position,” Bilingual Interpreting Program Director Gladys Matthews said. “With a graduate-level degree, they are able to take leadership positions and contribute to the development of the field. Several of our graduates are not only interpreting but also training the new generation of interpreters in various programs. Right now one of our students is interning in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia and was able to interpret in front of the judge. That is a very high honor.”
The bilingual interpreting program at the College of Charleston is poised to grow with the infrastructure already in place. Matthews hopes to increase enrollment and add tracks like community interpreting and conference interpreting.
– Melissa Whetzel, News Manager