Nick Skrobisz knew all the signs of a good career when he saw them.
Skrobisz, 24, is a sign-language interpreter. He translates between spoken English and American Sign Language, bridging gaps between the deaf and hearing worlds.
He discovered his calling about four years ago while waiting on a table that included deaf customers at Olive Garden. A member of the group, impressed with his signing skills, suggested he do it for a living.
Skrobisz, of Dale City, didn't learn signing with an eye toward making a living. His reasons were personal -- both of his parents are deaf, so he developed fluency with ASL growing up.
He works as a freelancer, with assignments coming from agencies around the region. A musician, Skrobisz appreciates the flexible schedule. He could work 50 hours a week, he said, but 20 to 25 hours is considered full time for freelancers because they spend so much time traveling between jobs. Pay ranges from $20 to $40 an hour, he said.
He mostly works in educational settings, sitting at the front of a class and interpreting for a student. He doesn't limit himself to schools, though. A recent job had him at a company picnic with a softball game.
Skrobisz is certified as an advanced interpreter by the National Association of the Deaf. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook, laws that require accommodations for those with disabilities, including deaf and hard-of-hearing people, are leading to increased demand for certified interpreters.
-- Mary Ellen Slayter