Salaries for sign language teachers and other interpreters is dependent on geographic location and industry, with the top salaries found in the state of Virginia and at colleges, universities and professional schools. Employment of sign language teachers is often preferential toward deaf candidates. As maintained by the American Sign Language Teachers Association, "Deaf teachers often can offer special insights to their students based in their experiences that hearing teachers may not be able to offer."
Salaries and Qualifications
Interpreters and translators, which include sign language teachers, earned a 2012 median salary of $45,430, or $21.84 per hour, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Most employers of sign language teachers require a bachelor's or master's degree in American sign language or deaf studies from an accredited college or university and/or certification from the American Sign Language Teachers Association. To teach in a public K-12 school, many states require sign language teachers to have a teaching certification.
Salary by Industry
Sign language teacher salary is largely dependent on the type of school you plan to teach in. According to the BLS, the 2012 mean pay at elementary and secondary schools was $41,560, or $19.98 per hour; at colleges, universities and professional schools, mean salaries were $58,560 or $28.16 per hour. Most colleges and universities require sign language teachers to have a master's degree or Ph.D.
Salary by State
Virginia was the top-paying state for sign language teachers and other interpreters in 2012, with a mean salary of $90,900, reports the BLS. This was nearly $30,000 higher than any other state, with the second-highest paying, Maine, offering a mean salary of $62,350. This was followed by Maryland, $62,010, New Jersey, $59,400 and Colorado, $57,480.
Metropolitan Versus Non-Metropolitan Salary
According to the BLS, the top-paying metropolitan area for sign language teachers and other interpreters was the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria region in D.C., Virginia, Maryland and West Virginia, with a mean salary of $92,390. This was followed by Bethesda-Rockville-Frederick, Maryland, $73,680 and Augusta-Richmond County, Georgia, $70,410. The top-paying non-metropolitan region was north and west central New Mexico, with a mean salary of $58,440, followed by central Washington, $55,240 and northeast Alabama, $54,190.
2016 Salary Information for Interpreters and Translators
Interpreters and translators earned a median annual salary of $46,120 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, interpreters and translators earned a 25th percentile salary of $34,230, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $61,950, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 68,200 people were employed in the U.S. as interpreters and translators.