British Sign Language interpreter
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British Sign Language (BSL) interpreters help deaf and hearing people communicate with one another.
£20,000 Starter - £35,000 Experienced
37 to 39 variable (evenings / weekends flexibly)
Where to start
You can get into this job through
a university courseworking towards this rolea 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. You'll need a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study.
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.
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.
Many interpreters work freelance or through agencies and often get work through recommendations of people who have already used their services. It's important to have knowledge and an appreciation of deaf culture and the issues facing the deaf community.
What it takes
Skills and knowledge
- good 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 pass enhanced background checks
What you’ll do
In your day-to-day duties you may have to:
- prepare before assignments by finding out about the situation and any specialist vocabulary you may need
- travel to different sites to interpret in a variety of situations
- use technology to provide 'virtual' interpreting services
- listen carefully to, or watch, what is said or signed
- interpret what is said or signed
- find the best way to express everything that is said or signed
- do admin tasks like paperwork or booking appointments
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.