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

University

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

More Information

Work

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

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.

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

More Information

Registration

Career tips

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.

Further information

You can find out more about becoming a British Sign Language interpreter from:

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

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 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:

What you'll do

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 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

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 productions or television performances, or move into research.

You could also become self-employed and work freelance.

Current 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

BSL Level 2

  • Provider: HAVERING LONDON BOROUGH COUNCIL
  • Start date: 04 November 2020
  • Location: ROMFORD

British Sign Language

  • Provider: GLOUCESTERSHIRE COLLEGE
  • Start date: 04 November 2020
  • Location: Gloucester

Jobs In the United Kingdom

The Find a job service can help you with your search for jobs and send alerts when new jobs become available.

Skills assessment

Take an assessment to learn more about your skills and the careers that might suit you.

Get help using this service

Call 0800 100 900 or use webchat

8am to 10pm, 7 days a week

More ways to contact us

Is this page useful?

Yes No

Thank you for your feedback.

Thank you for your feedback. Click here if you'd like to let us know how we can improve the service.