Sign Language Teacher: Salary and Career Facts

Explore the career requirements for sign language teachers. Get the facts about job duties and education and certification requirements to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Communications degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Sign Language Teacher?

Sign language teachers instruct students in American Sign Language. They follow curriculum guidelines to prepare lesson plans, teach classes and use tests and assignments to assess their students' skills in sign language. Like all teachers, they may meet with parents to discuss their child's progress, or they may be involved in disciplining students as needed. Middle school and high school teachers may also be involved in extracurricular activities with students; postsecondary teachers are often involved in research as well as teaching. Sign language teachers must be fluent in ASL.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree for elementary and secondary schools, master's degree or doctorate for colleges
Education Field of Study Elementary education, teaching ASL, education of the deaf, sign language education
Key Responsibilities Teaching ASL and other subjects, evaluating student progress, creating curricula
Licensure and Certification License required for elementary and secondary education, certification optional
Job Growth (2014-2024) 6% (as fast as average) for all elementary, middle and high school teachers*, 13% (faster than average) for all college-level teachers*
Average Hourly Salary (February 2017) $19.36**

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Indeed.com

What Does an American Sign Language Teacher Do?

As a teacher of American Sign Language, work with students who may have full, partial or no hearing loss. You are challenged with not only teaching the gestures that comprise American Sign Language, but also covering the literary traditions and cultural influences of the deaf and hard-of-hearing community. You may also be tasked with educating hearing-impaired and deaf individuals in other subjects, such as mathematics and science. Outside of the classroom, you are responsible for keeping up with current research and creating curricula to engage students.

What Education is Required?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that a requirement to teach in elementary or secondary schools is a bachelor's degree and state-approved teaching licensure. The BLS also reports that in order to teach at the college level, you must have a master's degree (www.bls.gov). Indeed.com, an online salary database, notes that the average salary for an ASL teacher was $19.36 per hour as of February 22, 2017. However, the site does not discriminate between secondary and postsecondary employment.

To qualify for all levels of employment, you can enroll in an online or on-campus Master of Arts in Teaching ASL (titles may vary slightly by school). As a student, you study the structure of the language and the cultural differences that exist between the hearing and deaf populations. You may study media production for non-hearing individuals as well as the linguistics of sign language. Most programs also require you to complete a student-teaching internship at an approved site.

Is Certification Required?

The American Sign Language Teachers Association (ASLTA) offers voluntary certification at three levels: provisional, qualified and professional. Each level builds on the requirements of the previous level.

To gain provisional certification, you must submit a portfolio that documents ASL teaching experience and five years of daily use of ASL. This certification is valid for four years; upon its expiration, you must pass the evaluation for qualified certification. To be eligible for qualified certification, you must have a minimum of 240 paid hours in ASL teaching or related teaching experience within the past five years. You must also have documentation of 150 hours of professional development activities. At this level, you must pass a written examination for certification.

The highest level is professional certification, which requires 480 hours of ASL teaching experience. On top of this, you must show documentation of a bachelor's degree or 15 years' teaching experience in ASL, according to ASLTA (www.aslta.org).

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Foreign language teachers, such as Spanish, French and German teachers, share the same duties as sign language teachers, since their objective is to instruct students in a language that is not their native language. All of these professionals use curriculum guidelines to prepare lesson plans and teach classes. They also use tests and assignments to evaluate the progress of their students, and can work at all levels of education. Those who teach elementary, middle school or high school need a bachelor's degree, a teaching license and fluency in the language they instruct, while those who teach at the postsecondary level need a master's or doctoral degree.

Another related career option is that of sign language interpreter. These professionals convert sign language into the spoken word and vice versa. Individuals interested in this career will likely need to complete a formal interpreting program and hold a bachelor's degree. Fluency in ASL is also required.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Regent University

    Regent University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Regent University:

    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Southern New Hampshire University

    Southern New Hampshire University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Southern New Hampshire University:

    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Grand Canyon University

    Grand Canyon University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Grand Canyon University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Penn Foster High School

    Penn Foster High School responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Penn Foster High School:

    Online Programs Available

  • University of New Hampshire

    Campus Locations:

    • New Hampshire: Manchester
  • Indiana University

    Campus Locations:

    • Indiana: Indianapolis
  • Rochester Institute of Technology

    Campus Locations:

    • New York: Rochester
  • Valdosta State University

    Campus Locations:

    • Georgia: Valdosta
  • Eastern Kentucky University

    Campus Locations:

    • Kentucky: Richmond
  • Oklahoma State University

    Campus Locations:

    • Oklahoma: Oklahoma City