British Sign Language interpreter

Language professional

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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

University

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

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree
  • a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study

More information

Work

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.

Other routes

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

More information

Registration

Further information

You can find out more about becoming a British Sign Language interpreter from:

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You’ll need:

  • 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

Day-to-day tasks

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

Working environment

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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