American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters may see their job opportunities and salaries increase as online communication services expand their offerings to people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Labor statistics data also show that ASL interpreters who work in large cities may have the most employment opportunities.
ASL interpreters are fluent in English and use finger spelling and body language to help people who are deaf or hard of hearing communicate with others. Salary data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) includes pay for ASL interpreters with wages for other types of interpreters. The bureau data show that the mean annual salary for interpreters in 2010 was £32,363, and the average hourly wage for interpreters that year was £15.50. However, interpreters at the top of the pay scale in 2010 earned an annual wage as high as £56,166.
Demand for ASL interpreters may grow quickly through 2018 because of the increasing use of video relay services, according to the BLS. Such services allow people to place video calls over the Internet using a sign language interpreter. Telecommunications and technical consulting services are among the top-paying industries for interpreters. Bureau data show interpreters earned a mean annual salary of £64,772 in 2010 at technical consulting firms. Interpreters who worked for telecommunications companies that year earned an average wage of £50,056.
ASL interpreters may find the most job opportunities in urban areas based on BLS data. The bureau indicates that Washington, D.C., New York City, and cities in California have the largest numbers of employment opportunities for interpreters. Those areas may pay above-average wages as well. Washington, D.C., interpreters earned a mean annual wage of £34,463 in 2010, but interpreters' average annual pay was slightly higher in New York City that year at £35,529. Los Angeles interpreters earned a mean annual salary of £33,650 in 2010.
Experienced ASL interpreters may be able to claim the best future job opportunities and command higher pay in the industry. The BLS indicates that there is a shortage of interpreters for the deaf and hard of hearing who meet the skill levels some employers want. Top-paying states for interpreters include New Jersey and Colorado. Interpreters who worked in New Jersey in 2010 earned mean annual pay of £43,075, and Colorado interpreters earn an average annual salary of £38,070 that year.
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