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British Sign Language interpreter

British Sign Language (BSL) interpreters help deaf and hearing people communicate with one another.

Annual Salary


Average UK salary in 2019 was £30,378
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

37 to 39 variable

You could work: evenings / weekends; flexibly

Future employment

There will be 1% more British Sign Language interpreter jobs in 2026.
In your local area

Day to day tasks

In your day-to-day duties you may have to:

  • prepare before assignments by finding out about the situation and any specialist vocabulary
  • 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

Working environment

You could work at a client's business, from home or in an office.

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • working towards this role
  • a 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

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
For more information

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 work experience

Getting involved in 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

Requirements and restrictions

You'll need to:

More information

Career tips

Many interpreters work freelance or through agencies and often get work through recommendations of people who have already used their services.

It is useful if you have an understanding of deaf people's needs and the challenges that they face.

Further information

You can find out more about becoming a British Sign Language interpreter from:Signature; Royal Association for Deaf People; British Deaf Association; Royal National Institute for the Deaf (RNID)

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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.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • 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 work on your own
  • active listening skills
  • concentration skills
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
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