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The need for qualified American Sign Language (ASL) teachers is growing as more schools recognize ASL as a foreign language. Thirty-five states acknowledge ASL as a language in public schools, and more than 100 universities allow it to cover foreign language requirements. ASL is the language used by the majority of deaf people in the United States, and, according to Indiana University, is the third most common language in the nation.
An ASL teacher is responsible for teaching students ASL, as well as an understanding of deaf culture. The ASL Teachers Association suggests all ASL teachers meet two basic needs: they should be licensed to teach by the state, and they must meet the minimum criteria set out by the NAD (National Association of the Deaf) to properly teach ASL and deaf culture. An ASL teacher serves a similar role to that of a foreign language teacher within a school.
Salaries may vary depending on a teacher's level of education and the type of classroom teaching they are doing. With a Ph.D, teaching ASL at a university will pay more than teaching at a high school. With a master's degree, teaching at a high school tends to pay more than teaching at a university. However, sometimes the pay is the same regardless of where you teach.
Salaries for ASL teachers vary depending on their level of education and amount of experience. According to ASL teacher Louise Hudson, from the Indiana School for the Deaf, a starting salary for an ASL teacher with a master's degree in ASL or deaf studies is around $45,000 per year. If that teacher has a master's degree and several years' experience, the average salary can be $60,000 per year.
ASL teachers often give private tutoring sessions as well as teach classes, and this can be an opportunity to earn some money on the side. With a bachelor's degree in ASL or deaf studies, tutors can typically charge $20 to $30 per hour. With a master's degree, tutors can charge $40 to $50 per hour. The amount of hours per week spent tutoring will vary depending on the teacher's schedule and demand for private lessons.
ASL teachers are not the same as ASL interpreters, though many ASL teachers may also be certified interpreters. To find an ASL teacher, contact the American Sign Language Teachers Association (aslta.org) or your local state deaf school. If you need a qualified ASL interpreter, contact the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) at rid.org. Rates of pay for an ASL teacher will be different from that of an interpreter.
Lauren Fitzpatrick was the official blogger for Busabout Europe in 2008, and has contributed to Transitions Abroad. Her subjects of interest include international work and travel, fitness, and deaf culture. She holds a Master of Arts in travel writing from Kingston University and a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Indiana University.