British sign language interpreter

British sign language (BSL) interpreters help deaf and hearing people communicate with one another.

Annual Salary

£20,000 to £35,000

Average UK salary in 2018 was £29,588 (source Office for Statistics)

Working hours


Future employment

There will be 4% more British sign language interpreter jobs in 2023.
In your local area

What's it all about?

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.

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)

The  NRCPD has more on approved courses and qualifications.

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).

£20,000 to £35,000

Starter salary: £20,000 to £22,000

Experienced salary: £24,000 to £28,000

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.


You 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.

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.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You’ll need:

  • 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
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