Job type

Sign language interpreter

£20k - £35k

Typical salary

37 – 39

Hours per week

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

More info

  • Use sign language to interpret communications either in person or on TV/video
  • Option to become self-employed and work freelance
  • Requires excellent spoken and written English and confidence when speaking in public

BSL interpreters convert spoken statements into sign language and vice versa. Interpreting from one sign language to another is also an option.

This role would be ideal for someone with patience, the ability to work on their own, and attention to detail.


  • Preparing before assignments
  • Travelling to different sites to interpret in a variety of situations
  • Using technology to provide 'virtual' interpreting services
  • 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
  • Administrative tasks like paperwork or booking appointments


As a sign language interpreter, you could work at a client's business, from home or in an office. You'll usually work normal office hours if you're employed by a company. 

You may receive extra payment for preparation time, travel and for working unsocial hours. You may work irregular hours if you're freelance, which could include evenings and weekends. 

Many interpreters are self-employed and work for the police or hospitals. Fees and salaries for BSL interpreters vary widely depending on experience, employer and location. You could teach and assess others, sign at theatre or television performances, or move into research.

You'll need

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 a postgraduate or master’s degree in interpreting or translation or a Level 6 Diploma in Sign Language Interpreting.

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) and 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. You'll also need to pass enhanced background checks for this role.


You could move into research, teach and assess others, or sign at theatre or television performances. You could also become self-employed and work freelance.