British sign language interpreter language professional
BETATry an improved version of this page
- More about how to get into this career
- We've included current opportunities to help you with your next steps
British sign language (BSL) interpreters help deaf and hearing people communicate with one another.
1. Entry requirements
You’ll need a degree or level 6 award in both BSL and interpreting. You could take BSL qualifications at a lower level and work your way up.
You’ll also need to register with the National Registers of Communications Professionals working with Deaf and Deafblind people (NRCPD).
You could become qualified by registering as a:
- trainee sign language interpreter (TSLI)
- sign language interpreter (RSLI)
Getting involved in deaf clubs or centres for deaf people is a good way of making contact with deaf people.
The Royal Association for Deaf People (RAD) has information on deaf clubs and centres for deaf people.
The British Deaf Association (BDA), Action on Hearing Loss and RAD have information and training on deaf awareness and all aspects of working with deaf people.
You’ll need clearance from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).
2. Skills required
- excellent spoken and written English
- accurate and fast BSL skills
- the ability to develop strong relationships
- confidence when speaking in public
- the ability to keep up intense concentration and think quickly
3. 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
Many interpreters are self-employed and work for the police or hospitals.
Starter: £20,000 to £22,000
Experienced: £24,000 to £28,000
Highly Experienced: £35,000
Fees and salaries for BSL interpreters vary widely depending on experience, employer and location.
Freelance interpreters can earn £25 to £30 an hour, and many contracts have a 2 or 3 hour minimum booking.
You may receive extra payment for preparation time, travel and for working unsocial hours.
These figures are a guide.
5. Working hours, patterns and environmentYou may work irregular hours if you’re freelance, which could include evenings and weekends.
You’ll usually work normal office hours if you’re employed by a company.
6. Career path and progression
You could teach and assess others, sign at theatre or television performances, or move into research.You could also become self-employed and work freelance.
You may be interested in:
Last updated: 10 September 2018