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Jobs Working with the Deaf Community

A number of professions offer regular opportunities to work with members of the deaf community. These include careers in community and social services, healthcare, education, transportation and the legal field.

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Career Options for Working with the Deaf Community

People who are part of the deaf community have specific needs related to their inability to hear. People who work with individuals who are deaf can help them gain access to necessary services or provide services that help them be independent and successful.

Job Title Median Salary (2016)* Job Outlook (2016-2026)*
Interpreters $46,120 (interpreters and translators) 17% (interpreters and translators)
Mental Health Counselors $42,840 20%
Court Reporters $51,320 3%
Audiologists $75,980 20%
Social Workers $46,890 15%
Community Health Workers $37,330 18%
Bus Drivers $32,140 (school and employee bus transportation) 5% (bus drivers, school or special client)
High School Teachers $58,030 8%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Career Information for Working with the Deaf Community

Interpreters

Interpreters bridge the gap between deaf people and those who do not know American Sign Language (ASL). They convert what's said into sign language and then convert what's expressed in sign language into spoken words. Interpreters who are fluent in ASL specialize in providing services to the deaf community in a range of venues, such as public events and at medical appointments. They must be fluent in ASL and have a bachelor's degree.

Mental Health Counselors

Mental health counselors work with individuals who are struggling with mental health issues and provide counseling to their clients. They normally need a master's degree in a relevant field, such as psychology, and must complete an internship. There are opportunities for mental health counselors to specialize in working with members of the deaf community. These mental health counselors must also be fluent in ASL.

Court Reporters

Court reporters create records/transcripts of everything that occurs during court proceedings. They can usually prepare for their career with on-the-job training or by completing a postsecondary certificate. Their responsibilities can include providing captioning for members of the deaf community during proceedings, as well as captioning for television and live translation during meeting or classes. This may be provided in person or on television screens.

Audiologists

Audiologists are medical professionals who focus on treating people with hearing problems; they are qualified to diagnose conditions, develop treatment plans to prevent hearing loss and work with patients with balance issues. Audiologists may be among the first to work with people who are deaf due to hearing loss and can help these patients by teaching them to read lips or prescribing cochlear implants. They are required to have a doctoral degree and a license to work in their field.

Social Workers

Social workers can provide counseling to individuals and also serve as advocates for people with specific needs and help them access services. A bachelor's degree in social work is required to prepare for this career and those that pursue clinical work must have a master's degree. As advocates they can play an important role when working with members of the deaf community to ensure they have access to interpreters and other necessary services. They are required to provide interpreters to clients that are deaf so they do not need training in American Sign Language.

Community Health Workers

Community health workers are responsible for helping community members access medical services and identifying community health issues. It is increasingly common for community health workers to provide services specifically to members of the deaf community. Although community health workers are only required to have a high school diploma and on-the-job training, those who specialize in working with the deaf community must complete a training curriculum to expand their understanding of the needs of the deaf community. Those who work with the deaf community work alongside an interpreter to help ensure deaf patients have a clear understanding of their healthcare options.

School Bus Drivers

School bus drivers pick up students and then take them home from school. They operate the vehicle in accordance with traffic laws and are responsible for keeping their passengers safe. School bus drivers can pursue opportunities to work for schools for the deaf and transport students who are part of the deaf community. School bus drivers must have a commercial driver's license (CDL) and although those that work for deaf schools do not always need to be fluent in ASL, some ASL training may be an asset.

High School Teachers

High school teachers focus on providing academic instruction to teenage students. They are required to have a bachelor's degree in the subject they teach and a teacher's license. Their duties involve creating lessons, teaching classes and grading student work. High school teachers that are interested in working with the deaf community can pursue teaching opportunities at schools for the deaf and play an important educational role in the deaf community; these teachers must also be fluent in American Sign Language.

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