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Sign Language Interpreter

Sign language interpreters facilitate communication among deaf, deaf-blind, hard-of-hearing, and hearing people, using English and American Sign Language (ASL) or French and langue des signes quebecoise (LSQ).

Also Known As

ASL-English Interpreter, Interpreter, Language Specialist, 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: Interpreters (5125.3) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Translators, Terminologists and Interpreters (F025) 
  • 2011 NOC: Translators, terminologists and interpreters (5125) 
  • 2016 NOC: Translators, terminologists and interpreters (5125) 
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

Duties
Updated Mar 31, 2019

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 facilitate communication and ensure 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 review relevant background information. Individuals requiring interpretation services provide information about terminology and copies of working documents, meeting handouts, agendas, or minutes. In educational settings, schools must provide texts, handouts, audiovisual materials, and other course materials so interpreters can become familiar with course theory and terminology.

In school settings, sign language interpreters may interpret:

  • For hearing or deaf teachers and with hearing or deaf students in classrooms and labs
  • During parent-teacher interviews
  • At tutorial sessions
  • In other situations, such as when deaf students or deaf parents wish to use support services, participate in extracurricular activities, or attend school meetings
Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2019
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg

Sign language interpreters provide interpretation services wherever communication is required. They may work in:

  • Business, legal, medical, or social service offices
  • Schools
  • Religious settings
  • Musical and theatrical performances
  • Conferences and workshops
  • Specialized settings with a deaf professional, such as a deaf doctor or deaf academic
  • Television and media

Depending on the length and complexity of the assignment, interpreters may work in teams. This allows them to facilitate communication, ensure message equivalency, and reduce the risk of repetitive strain injuries.

Following industry best practices in occupational health and safety, sign language interpreters typically work no longer than 15 to 30 minutes at a time, and no more than 22 hours a week.

Interpreters who work as independent contractors may choose to work irregular hours in addition to the standard minimum assignment callout.

Traits & Skills
Updated Mar 31, 2019

Qualifications differ significantly among sectors, so sign language interpreters need to be flexible in order to meet changing requirements. In general, sign language interpreters need:

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

They should enjoy the process of interpreting and facilitating communication.

Hearing is not required. Increasingly, deaf people are training as interpreters.

Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2019
  • 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 quebecoise (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 in working with hard-of-hearing individuals.


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 31, 2019
  • 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 31, 2019

Sign language interpreters may be employed by institutions or interpreter referral agencies. They may also work as independent contractors.

Interpreters in educational settings may work in public or private elementary or secondary schools, post-secondary schools, or schools for the deaf. Interpreters who have business or administrative skills may be hired to co-ordinate interpreting services for agencies, post-secondary and other schools, conventions, or for other short-term assignments.

Sign language interpreters are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 5125: Translators, terminologists and interpreters. In Alberta, 78% of people employed in this classification work in the following industries:

The employment outlook [pdf] in this occupation is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Trends and events affecting overall employment, especially in the industries listed above
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation

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

In Alberta, the 5125: Translators, terminologists and interpreters occupational group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 1.8% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 39 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: Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2019

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.

Sign language interpreters are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 5125: Translators, terminologists and interpreters.

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
$39.63
Per Hour
Average Salary
$35,127.00
Per Year
Average Hours
29.2
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
11
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

Source
2019 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
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $18.00 $45.00 $38.67 $45.00
Overall $18.45 $45.00 $39.63 $45.00
Top $23.94 $45.00 $40.82 $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
Public Administration
ALL INDUSTRIES

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

56%
56%)

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 31, 2019

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

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

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

Updated Mar 31, 2019. 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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