jobs you can do using sign language

What jobs can I do with BSL? 5 top jobs to consider

Here are the 5 Top Jobs That Use Sign Language Every Day

Like many learners, you may be asking yourself “what jobs can I do with Sign Language?”. You may be wondering if it is worth the expense of pursuing higher British Sign Language qualifications. Sign Language opens doors to a wide range of occupations in education, healthcare, and community settings. We’ve listed 5 careers below as a guide to the types of careers you could pursue if you continue studying BSL. 

Table of Contents

1. Teacher of the Deaf:

A Teacher of the Deaf (T.o.D) uses Sign Language every day. A T.o.D can work in a deaf school or in a resource unit within a mainstream school. Some T.o.Ds provide peripatetic support to a number of schools as well as advising parents of deaf children. To qualify, you need to have qualified teacher status (QTS), a BSL qualification (usually Level 2 or Level 3) and complete the Certificate/Diploma to teach deaf children. Further details can be found at B.A.T.O.D (batod jobs). There are also options for BSL teaching assistant roles.

The average salary for a T.o.D is around £37,203 per annum but this will depend on experience and the area in which they are based. We would expect salaries for vacancies in a London borough to be much higher due to the higher living costs associated with living in the capital.

2. Speech and language therapist:

Speech and language therapists support deaf children throughout their school life. Their job is to support communication skills needed for the hearing world. Speech therapists are usually based at hospitals and assist a range of people with communication difficulties. However, therapists can also specialise and work as part of the team that supports children through their time at school.

Educational settings now use ‘total communication’ (BSL and English) to help children communicate so Speech and Language therapists need to use BSL as part of their skillset. 

Other healthcare-related careers include audiologists. Although BSL is not an essential skill to do the job, it is useful and helps with communication during appointments.

3. Sign language interpreter:

Sign Language interpreters (SLIs) are required to be fluent in BSL to degree level (Level 6). As a communication professional, an interpreter is able to work in any arena from GP surgeries, hospitals, universities, courts, theatres, conferences and TV – you often see a sign language interpreter on the BBC news channel. 

The range of domains also means that SLIs can specialise in specific areas of work. For example, some interpreters work in the courts and police stations while others only work in universities or other academic settings. Interpreters need to be flexible and be able to work online as a video relay interpreter as well as work face to face. 

No two days are ever the same for a sign language interpreter. Each assignment is as different as the individual sign language user you meet.

There are other language service professionals such as note-takers and lip speakers who also use BSL.

4. Communication Support Worker:

A Communication Support Worker (CSW) uses Sign Language on a daily basis. A CSW is usually based in a secondary or further education setting. The primary purpose is to support a young person with accessing the national curriculum or their course at college. They may work with one or two students throughout the academic year and often work in a team with other CSWs.

Generally, CSWs need to achieve BSL Level 3 to be regarded as competent and fluent enough to support children or young people who use BSL. This is particularly important for CSWs working with GCSE or A-level students. Language is more advanced and covers a wide range of topics. For example, in a college, a CSW might work with a student engineer for one session and a trainee accountant for another. Fluency is also important for children from native BSL user families as they will need a CSW to be competent and comfortable with using sign language. 

A Communication Support Worker can also be employed in offices where there are deaf employees. In this instance, a CSW would help with interactions between staff members and provide support when needed e.g. at staff training sessions.

5. Social worker for the deaf:

In some areas of the UK, there is a large Deaf community. Some councils, particularly in larger cities such as London, employ social workers to work with sign language users. Being able to use BSL is vital for communicating directly with native sign language service users.  Social workers for the Deaf will carry out the same duties as other social workers but have specialist knowledge of working with a linguistic minority.

What jobs can I do with BSL Level 2?

A BSL Level 1 certificate from an Ofqual regulated awarding body such as Signature is the equivalent to grades 1 – 3 in a GCSE.

BSL Level 2 is the GCSE equivalent of grades 9 – 4 (what used to be grades A* – C). BSL Level 3 is the equivalent of an A-Level and BSL Level 6 is the equivalent to a degree.

As BSL Level 2 is the equivalent to a higher grade GCSE, the options for using BSL in a job is limited (unless you have other suitable qualifications). Many jobs using BSL need a higher level of fluency than what can be achieved at Level 2. However, there are some roles that are advertised for those with BSL Level 2. The roles tend to be in education and will support children aged 5 – 11 years. Other roles such as Personal Assistant (PA) are also advertised as suitable for those with a BSL level 2 qualification.

It is important to note, that there are many online courses offering Level 1, Level 2 or even course bundles offering Levels 1 – 5. Unfortunately, none of these meets the requirements to be regarded as a valid qualification. They are not equivalent to those offered by one of the Ofqual regulated awarding bodies.

Many of these online courses are poorly created video courses. Unfortunately that means you end up wasting time and money on a course that has little to no value when pursuing a BSL career working with Deaf people. It could also set back your signing and damage your chances of working with BSL users.

Looking for a BSL Level 2 course? We recommend regulated online and classroom-based BSL level 2 courses.

What jobs can I do with BSL Level 3?

As mentioned above, BSL Level 3 is the equivalent to an A-Level. Level 3 does not equip you for working between English and BSL, although many do as Communication Support Workers. BSL Level 3 is useful for other jobs where you regularly meet sign language users. For example, advice services such as the Citizens Advice Bureau sometimes hire specialist advisors for the Deaf Community. These type of vacancies are often advertised on specialist charity job sites.

Where do I find BSL Jobs Near Me?

Many mainstream online job boards such as Reed, Indeed and so on, advertise jobs. However, most advertised jobs aren’t actually on these sites (they are gathered from elsewhere). Sometimes the vacancies are from agencies that have never worked with deaf people before so lack the skill and understanding of what is required to work with native sign language users.

To find BSL jobs near you, you can search the following places:

  • BSL interpreting agencies
  • Specialist lists such as the private Google email group: deaf jobs.

Working with Deaf people:

There are many jobs that involve working with Deaf people. In reality, learning BSL will give you an advantage for any job that involves working with the public. 

Deaf people are like everyone else – they use gyms, go to cafes, watch films, use banks so even learning the basics will improve your communication skills. Your boss will like you too as you’ll be helping to make your workplace more accessible.

Fingerspelling alphabet charts

How to sign “my name is” in BSL?