British sign language interpreter

Alternative titles for this job include Language professional

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

Average salary (a year)

£20,000 Starter


£35,000 Experienced

Typical hours (a week)

37 to 39 variable

You could work

evenings / weekends flexibly

How to become a British sign language interpreter

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
  • Signature Level 6 (NVQ) Diploma in Sign Language Interpreting

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 2 to 3 A levels for a degree
  • a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study

More information


You could take British sign language qualifications at a lower level and work your way up.

Volunteering and experience

Getting involved in deaf clubs or centres for deaf people is a good way of gaining experience and may offer the opportunity to get relevant training.

Other routes

You could become qualified by registering as a trainee sign language interpreter (TSLI). To register, you'll need:

  • a degree/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

More information

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You'll need:

  • foreign 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
  • being able to use a computer terminal or hand-held device may be beneficial for this job.

Restrictions and requirements

You'll need to:

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

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

Working environment

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 or television performances, or move into research.

You could also become self-employed and work freelance.

Training opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

We can't find any apprenticeship vacancies in England for a British sign language interpreter right now.

The Find an apprenticeship service can help you with your search, send alerts when new apprenticeships become available and has advice on how to apply.

Courses In England

Deaf Awareness and Communication level 1 Award

  • Provider: Wirral Met College
  • Start date: 13 November 2019
  • Location: Birkenhead

Signing for Fun(Funded by Staffs County Council)

  • Provider: South Staffordshire College
  • Start date: 19 January 2019
  • Location: Cannock

Get help using this service

Call 0800 100 900

8am to 10pm, 7 days a week

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