CSW, sign language support worker
Communication support workers (CSWs) help deaf students in education.
Salary range: £18,000 to £22,000
How to become a communication support worker
You can get into this job through:
- a university course
- a college course
- working towards this role
- training with a professional body
You can do a British Sign Language and deaf studies degree, although it’s not essential.
You’ll usually need:
- 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English
- 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree
- equivalent entry requirements
- student finance for fees and living costs
- university courses and entry requirements
You can do a college qualification like:
- Level 3 Award In Signing and Receiving Skills in British Sign Language
- Level 3 Certificate in British Sign Language Studies
- Level 3 Certificate in Communication Support for Deaf Learners
You’ll be expected to have a level 2 sign language qualification to get onto one of these courses.
You can do further qualifications at higher levels once you start work.
You may be able to find a job as an assistant communication support worker and complete your qualifications while working.
Volunteering and experience
Experience of working or volunteering with children with deafness or hearing loss will be useful.
You can do sign language training through organisations like Signature, which also offers a Certificate in Learning Support for Communication Support Workers.
You can get more advice about working in communication support from Signature.
What it takes
Skills and knowledge
- sensitivity and understanding
- patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
- to enjoy working with other people
- the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
- to be flexible and open to change
- excellent verbal communication skills
- knowledge of teaching and the ability to design courses
- knowledge of psychology
- 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 may include:
- assessing the needs of learners
- helping them communicate with others in class
- supporting them by lipspeaking and notetaking
- interpreting between spoken English and BSL
- being creative in adapting learning materials to match learners’ interests
- using a range of ways to help them understand what is required in class
- helping them produce written work
- supporting learners in talking about their learning needs with teachers
- building relationships with learners, their families, and other professionals
- thinking of ways for learners to become more independent
- providing deaf-awareness training for other staff and students
- supporting the school or college in improving the environment for hearing aids and lipreading
You could work at a school, at a special needs school, at a college or at a university.
Career path and progression
With experience, you could move into a management position within sensory impairment or disability services. With further training, you could progress to become a sign language interpreter, a disability adviser or a teacher of the deaf.
There are some opportunities to use sign language skills in theatre, television, multimedia production and courts of law. Signers are sometimes booked to interpret in interviews.