Best Positions for Deaf or Hard of Hearing Job Seekers

Hearing or not hearing does not impair your ability to achieve what you want to achieve. While there may be careers for which you are less suited, the same would apply to anyone searching for a career path. Each person has skills, talents, and limitations. If you are deaf or hard-of-hearing, here are some of the best job positions you may want to consider.

Teacher showing pre-school girl sign language
Juan Silva / Getty Images

Sign Language Interpreter

Even if you already know American sign language (ASL), becoming a professional sign language interpreter requires extensive training to attain the linguistic proficiency to communicate complex, conceptual, and sometimes technical information to diverse audiences.

Inline citation did not support this. Wages can vary, but graduates with certification from the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) can make around $27.60 an hour based on experience, industry, and location.

There is a strong need for qualified interpreters in all fields with the supply rarely keeping up with the demand.

Social Work

There is always a need for social workers who are culturally competent and able to communicate with deaf clients. To become a social worker, you would need to obtain a minimum of a bachelor's degree. If you decide to pursue your master's, you don't need a baccalaureate in social work to do so; a liberal arts degree would be just fine.

While many universities offer excellent master's programs in clinical social work, Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. is the only tertiary institution the United States with as a specialist emphasis on deaf and hard-of-hearing populations.

The median wage for a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) is approximately $50,470 per year, depending on location and industry sector.


There is a severe shortage of qualified teachers for the deaf, particularly those skilled in ASL as a native language. For this career path, you would need a minimum of a bachelor's degree with a specialty in ASL or deaf education.

While not required in most states, the American Sign Language Teacher's Association (ASLTA) strongly encourages teachers to pursue professional certification, as well.

The median salary for special education teachers in preschool, kindergarten, elementary, and high school are all at or above $60,000.

Speech/Language Pathologist

This is a field that will probably increase in demand now that more deaf children and adults are receiving cochlear implants. A master's degree program in speech/language pathology generally takes two years after completing your bachelor's. The program will be largely focused on phonetics, acoustics, anatomy, physiology, and developmental psychology.

To become a speech/language pathologist, some states will require you to attend a program accredited by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association's Council on Academic Accreditation. Expect annual salaries in the $70,000 range and above.


This is a field that will never go out of demand and may increase now that newborn hearing screening laws are in place. Audiology is the branch of science that studies hearing, balance, and related disorders and whose practitioners treat or prevent hearing loss.

Audiologists must earn a postgraduate degree to begin practicing. The audiology degree (AuD) is a four-year program you can enter if you have a bachelor's degree in any field. The median salary is approximately $80,000 for those who work a 9-month academic year.

4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. What is the average salary of a sign language interpreter?.

  2. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Social Workers. Occupational Outlook Handbook.

  3. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Special Education Teachers. Occupational Outlook Handbook.

  4. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Salary and wage data.

Additional Reading

By Jamie Berke
 Jamie Berke is a deafness and hard of hearing expert.