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Sign Language Interpreter

Sign language interpreters facilitate communication among people with hearing disabilities and hearing people, using English and American Sign Language (ASL) or French and langue des signes québécoise (LSQ).

Also Known As

ASL-English Interpreter, Interpreter, LSQ-French Interpreter

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used.

Here is how this occupation has been classified over time.

2006 NOC

  • 5125.3: Interpreters

2006 NOC-S

  • F025: Translators, Terminologists and Interpreters

2011 NOC

  • 5125: Translators, terminologists and interpreters

2016 NOC

  • 5125: Translators, terminologists and interpreters

2021 NOC

  • 51114: Translators, terminologists and interpreters

2023 OaSIS

  • 51114.04: Sign language Interpreters
Duties
Updated Mar 24, 2023

The process of interpreting is the same regardless of the languages involved. A message from one language and cultural context must be expressed accurately in another. An interpreter’s goal is to provide an effective and accurate interpretation while refraining from counselling, advising, or interjecting personal opinions. A sign language interpreter interprets all spoken and signed utterances.

Prior to appointments, sign language interpreters take the time to review relevant information.

Individuals requiring interpretation services are asked to provide many types of information. This includes information about terminology, copies of working documents, meeting handouts, agendas, and minutes, and any other relevant information or materials. In educational settings, schools will provide texts, handouts, audiovisual materials, and other course materials in advance. This allows interpreters to become familiar with course theory and terminology.

In school settings, sign language interpreters may interpret:

  • For teachers or students with hearing disabilities in classrooms and labs
  • During parent-teacher interviews where one or more attendees have a hearing disability
  • At tutorial sessions where the tutor or student has a hearing disability
  • In other situations, such as when students or parents with hearing disabilities wish to use support services, take part in extracurricular activities, or attend school meetings
Working Conditions
Updated Mar 24, 2023
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg

Sign language interpreters provide interpretation services wherever communication and interaction happens. They may work in settings such as:

  • Business, legal, medical, or social service offices
  • Schools
  • Faith institutions
  • Musical and theatrical performances
  • Conferences and workshops
  • Meetings with a professional, such as a doctor or academic who has a hearing disability
  • Television and media
  • Video Relay Services (VRS)
  • Video Remote Interpreting (VRI)

Depending on the length and complexity of an assignment, interpreters may work in teams. This facilitates communication and ensures message equivalency. It also reduces the risk of repetitive strain injuries.

Any form of simultaneous language interpretation is mentally stressful. Sign language interpretation is also physically demanding. Therefore, industry best practices place limits on the duration of work assignments. Sign language interpreters on teams most often work no longer than 15 to 30 minutes at a time, and no more than about 22 hours a week.

Interpreters who work as independent contractors have a standard minimum assignment length. In addition, they make their own schedules and may choose to work irregular hours.

Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Interpreters

2006 NOC: 5125.3

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group
METHODICAL

Interest in listening to speakers or reading from texts in order to interpret statements made during speeches, meetings, conferences, debates and conversation, or in court or before administrative tribunals

INNOVATIVE

Interest in analyzing information when listening to and watching the source language, in processing the content, meaning, context and affect, and in reproducing messages simultaneously, or consecutively

social

Interest in speaking to facilitate communication between individuals with differing languages

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 

It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective, and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes for this NOC group is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn About Interests

Abilities

Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Traits & Skills
Updated Mar 24, 2023

Qualifications differ significantly among sectors, so sign language interpreters must choose to work in settings where their skills align well with the communication required. Sign language interpreters follow a professional Code of Ethics. They need:

  • Discretion
  • Objectivity
  • Flexibility
  • Interpersonal and communication skills
  • Physical and mental stamina

They should enjoy the process of interpreting and facilitating communication. More and more, people with hearing disabilities are being trained as interpreters and are often part of the interpreting team. Hearing is not required.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Top 10 Skills Employers Are Looking For

Translators, terminologists and interpreters

2016 NOC: 5125

This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 106 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Sep 13, 2022 and May 24, 2024.

Review these skills to learn:

  • Whether or not this occupation matches your skill set
  • What training you may need to get these skills
  • What skills to highlight in your resumé, cover letter, and interview.
Experience: Will train
Experience: 1 to less than 7 months
Own Tools/Equipment: Cellular phone
Tasks: Interpret for persons speaking an Aboriginal or foreign language
Tasks: Interpret language for individuals and small groups
Construction Specialization: Excellent oral communication
Construction Specialization: Accurate
Construction Specialization: Excellent written communication
Tasks: Interpret oral communication from one language to another aloud or using electronic equipment
Tasks: Translate a variety of written material
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 24, 2023
  • Minimum Education 2 years post-secondary

Sign language interpreters must have excellent spoken English or French skills and be fluent in American Sign Language (ASL) or la langue des signes québécoise (LSQ). Employers generally prefer to hire interpreters who:

For information about interpreter training programs in Canada, visit the CASLI website.

Admission to an interpreter training program generally requires a high level of skill in American Sign Language. ASL classes are offered through continuing education at high schools and post-secondary schools.

Familiarity with Signing Exact English may be beneficial when working with some individuals who prefer this mode of communication. NOTE: Signing Exact English is not a language and is not prevalent in most communities; very few individuals use this method of communication.


Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 24, 2023
  • Certification Not Regulated

Certification is not required, as there is currently no legislation regulating this occupation. However, employers consider certification an asset.

Voluntary certification is available from the Canadian Association of Sign Language Interpreters (CASLI).

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 24, 2023

Sign language interpreters may work for institutions, interpreter referral agencies, or as independent contractors.

Interpreters in educational settings may work in public or private elementary or secondary schools, post-secondary schools, or schools for people with hearing disabilities. Interpreters who have business or administrative skills may be hired to coordinate interpreting services for agencies, post-secondary and other schools, conventions, or for other short-term assignments.

Industry Concentration

This section shows the industries where the majority of people in this occupation work. The data is based on the 2016 Census.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups.

In the 5125: Translators, terminologists and interpreters occupational group, 84.4% of people work in:

Employment Outlook

Employment outlook is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation
  • Trends and events that affect overall employment, especially in the industry or industries from the previous list

In Alberta, the 5125: Translators, terminologists and interpreters occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 2.6% from 2021 to 2025. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 23 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Note
NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: 2021-2025 Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Related Alberta Job Postings
Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 24, 2023

Incomes and benefits vary depending on the interpreter’s skill level, certification, education, experience, and professional development.

Interpreters may be paid by the hour, half day, or full day. Typically, they charge a 2-hour or half-day minimum and require at least 48 hours’ notice of cancellation.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Translators, terminologists and interpreters

2016 NOC: 5125
Average Wage
$43.78
Per Hour
Average Salary
$68,225.00
Per Year
Average Hours
30.2
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
12
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

Source
2021 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 5125 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production), and other forms of compensation.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

C: Lower Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Lower Reliability, represents a CV of between 15.01% and 33.00% and/or if fewer than 20 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 33% of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $33.81 $45.00 $43.59 $45.00
Overall $33.81 $45.00 $43.78 $45.00
Top $33.81 $45.00 $43.81 $45.00

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

Industry Information

ALL INDUSTRIES
Public Administration

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years
N/A
Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties
N/A
Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months
N/A
Vacancy Rate
N/A
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Humanities and Languages
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 24, 2023

Association of Sign Language Interpreters of Alberta (ASLIA) website: www.aslia.ca

Association of Visual Language Interpreters of Canada (AVLIC) website: www.avlic.ca

Canadian Association of Sign Language Interpreters (CASLI) website: www.casli.ca

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 24, 2023. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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