British Sign Language interpreter
British Sign Language (BSL) interpreters help deaf and hearing people communicate with one another.
Salary range: £20,000 to £35,000
How to become a British Sign Language interpreter
You can get into this job through:
- a university course
- working towards this role
- a trainee scheme
You’ll need a degree or level 6 award in both British Sign Language and interpreting.
You would also need an approved qualification in interpreting like:
- postgraduate or master’s degree in interpreting or translation
- Level 6 Diploma in Sign Language Interpreting
You’ll usually need:
- 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree
- a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study
- equivalent entry requirements
- student finance for fees and living costs
- finance for postgraduate courses
- university courses and entry requirements
You could work for an organisation that supports deaf people, or in a school or college, for example, as an educational support assistant. You could then do your British Sign Language qualifications on the job to qualify as an interpreter.
Volunteering and experience
Getting involved in deaf clubs or centres for deaf people is a good way of getting experience and may give you the opportunity to get relevant training.
You could qualify by registering as a trainee sign language interpreter (TSLI). To register, you’ll need:
- a degree or level 6 award in your first language – either English or British Sign Language (BSL)
- a minimum of level 4, above A level standard, in your second language – either English or BSL
- you’ll need to register with the National Registers of Communications Professionals working with Deaf and Deafblind People
You can find out more about becoming a British Sign Language interpreter from:
What it takes
Skills and knowledge
- foreign language skills
- knowledge of English language
- to be thorough and pay attention to detail
- customer service skills
- patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
- the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
- the ability to work on your own
- to be flexible and open to change
- to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
Restrictions and requirements
You’ll need to:
What you’ll do
Your day-to-day duties might include:
- preparing before assignments
- listening carefully to, or watching, what is said or signed
- interpreting what is said or signed
- finding the best way to express everything that is said or signed
You could work at a client’s business, from home or in an office.
Career path and progression
You could teach and assess others, sign at theatre productions or television performances, or move into research.
You could also become self-employed and work freelance.
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