We're building a new service – your feedback will help us to improve it.

Communication support worker Sign language support worker

BETATry an improved version of this page

  1. More about how to get into this career
  2. We've included current opportunities to help you with your next steps
Try it out

Communication support workers help deaf students in education.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £18,000 to £22,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 30 per week

1. Entry requirements

You’ll need a qualification in one of the following:

  • British Sign Language Studies
  • Using Signing to Support Speech, Language and Communication

You’ll also need some experience of working or volunteering with children with deafness or hearing loss.

You may be able to find a job as a communication support worker (CSW) and complete your qualifications while working.

Many further education colleges and private training providers offer British Sign Language (BSL) courses.

There are also online courses like the free one offered by Signstation

Signature offer sign language courses and a certificate in Learning Support (Communication Support Worker).

You could get into this job through an apprenticeship.

You’ll need clearance from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).

2. Skills required

You’ll need:

  • to be able to use BSL
  • clear written and spoken English
  • the ability to build relationships and work in different teams
  • creativity for adapting learning resources
  • basic IT skills

3. What you'll do

Your day-to-day duties may include:

  • assessing the needs of learners
  • helping them communicate with others in class
  • supporting them by lipspeaking and notetaking
  • interpreting between spoken English and BSL
  • being creative in adapting learning materials to match learners’ interests
  • using a range of ways to help them understand what is required in class
  • helping them produce written work
  • supporting learners in talking about their learning needs with teachers
  • building relationships with learners, their families, and other professionals
  • thinking of ways for learners to become more independent
  • providing deaf-awareness training for other staff and students
  • supporting the school or college in improving the environment for hearing aids and lipreading

4. Salary

Starter: £18,000 (full time)

Experienced: £22,000 (full time)

Many CSWs are employed part-time, for part of the year, so you’d get a proportion of a full-time salary. These are known as 'pro-rata' payments. Many jobs are paid per hour at around £12 to £25.

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You’ll work a maximum of 30 hours a week during school, college or university terms (typically 30 to 40 weeks a year). 

Part-time and sessional work is more common, especially as many deaf learners only attend lessons or lectures on a part-time basis.

Your working environment will depend on the type of courses you’re supporting – you could work in classrooms, lecture theatres or laboratories, or outdoors on farms, building sites or other work settings.

You may need to travel between sites.

6. Career path and progression

With experience, you could move into a management position within sensory impairment or disability services. With further training, you could progress to become a sign language interpreter, a disability adviser or a teacher of the deaf.

There are some opportunities to use sign language skills in theatre, television, multimedia production and courts of law. Signers are sometimes booked to interpret in interviews.

Related careers

You may be interested in:

Last updated: 10 September 2018