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Communication Support Worker Profile


This Section of the site details information that you might find useful if you are looking to secure employment or require further details regarding working as a Communication Support Worker. This page details the following Information:-

  • Finding Suitable Work as a Communication Support Worker
  • Working Duties Expected
  • Hours and Environment
  • Working Skills Required
  • Training Requirements
  • Salary Expectations
  • Trade Information
  • Other useful Communication Support Worker Work Information

Finding Suitable Work

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Working Duties Expected

Communication support workers (CSWs) support deaf learners in further and higher education. They assist deaf learners to follow lectures and access the same information and services as hearing learners.

The CSW works as part of a support team that includes a teacher of the deaf (TOD), who assesses the needs of each individual learner and then negotiates with the mainstream teaching staff to plan the most appropriate ways of communication support. The CSW will then work under the direction of the teacher of the deaf to carry out these plans. Working with the learner in the classroom (or other learning environment), the CSW could provide communication support using a range of methods, such as:

British Sign Language (BSL)/English interpreting in lectures, tutorials and meetings

Lipspeaking - silently repeating a hearing persons words using clear lip shapes, gestures and facial expressions, as an aid to lipreading

Note-taking - CSWs can take handwritten or typed notes for the learner to use later, allowing the learner to give their full attention to the lecturer or BSL interpreter during a class.

The methods used will depend on the TOD's recommendations, and on the skills and qualifications of the individual CSW. If the CSW has specialist subject knowledge, the teacher of the deaf may also ask them to provide the learner with extra tutorial support.

Senior CSWs may co-ordinate a communication support team and carry out related administrative duties.

Communication support workers are mainly used in England and Wales. Colleges and universities in Scotland and Northern Ireland provide BSL/English interpreting and notetaking services for their deaf learners, but the formal CSW role is rare.

Hours and Environment

Most full-time communication support workers usually work 25 to 30 hours a week during college or university term time, typically 30 to 40 weeks a year. Part-time and sessional work is common, especially since many deaf learners may only attend college on a part-time basis.

They work in all situations where a learner could receive academic or vocational tuition, such as classrooms, lecture theatres or laboratories, or outdoors on farms, building sites, and other real life working environments. Some travel may be required between college sites so a driving licence would be useful.

Skills and Interests

To be a communication support worker you should:

  • have excellent communication skills in English (spoken and written) and BSL
  • be flexible and adaptable
  • be able to build good working relationships with learners, tutors, lecturers and other professionals within the support team
  • be willing to carry out research, for example in order to familiarise yourself with a subject or to look up specialised BSL vocabulary
  • have an awareness and understanding of Deaf culture and specific issues relating to the education of deaf people
  • be impartial, able to respect learners confidentiality and committed to equal opportunities
  • be computer literate.

Additionally, it will be helpful if you have further or higher education qualifications in the subjects your learners are studying.


To train to become a communication support worker you must have the Council for the Advancement of Communication with Deaf People (CACDP) Stage 2 Certificate in British Sign Language. You must also be at least 19 years old and have a minimum of four GCSEs (A-C)/S grades (1-3), including English.

If you want to support deaf learners in higher education, it will be an advantage if you also have relevant A levels/H grades or equivalent, a degree or specialist subject knowledge.

You may be accepted for training without the minimum GCSE/S grade requirements if you have previous relevant experience of working with deaf people and can demonstrate a good standard of general education. Previous learning may be accredited.


From September 2003, Edexcel will offer BTEC Level 3 qualifications in Support Work with Deaf Learners, at Award, Certificate and Diploma levels. The Award will consist of four core units (Deaf People in the Community; Language and Communication; Support Strategies; and Professional Practice and Legislation), plus two extra specialist units to qualify at Certificate level or six extra specialist units to qualify at Diploma level.

This award is an interim measure introduced since the withdrawal in Spring 2003 of the previous recognised qualification, the Edexcel Professional Development Award in Communication Support Work with Deaf Learners. As such, please note that details may change in the future. The National Association of Tertiary Education for Deaf People (NATED) and CACDP recommend that only the Diploma course, plus further Level 2 qualifications in communication skills (as listed below), is an appropriate level of training for CSWs.

Some colleges may still offer the original qualification and this will be recognised by NATED, CACDP and employers until a suitable alternative is available.

You will also usually be expected to upgrade your British Sign Language qualifications to NVQ level 3 and beyond, to improve your sign language interpreting skills. You can also take additional CACDP qualifications that may be relevant to the job, such as:

Level 2 Certificate in Note-taking for Deaf People
Level 2 Certificate in Electronic Note-taking for Deaf People
Level 2 and 3 Certificates in Lipspeaking
Level 3 Certificate in Communication and Guiding Skills with Deafblind people.


Most communication support workers are employed by colleges of further education and universities throughout the UK. Others may be employed by schools, local education authorities, vocational training centres or freelance agencies.

Experienced communication support workers could move into management positions within sensory impairment or disability services. With further training, they could progress to become sign language interpreters or teachers of the deaf, with the opportunity for permanent employment or freelance work.

Annual Income

This section is intended as a guideline only.

Trainee or unqualified communication support workers can earn £11,418 to £13,044 a year.
Qualified workers earn a minimum of £13,299 a year.
Experienced workers earn £15,210 to £16,680 a year.

Many contracted workers are employed on a pro-rata basis, part time, for part of the year.

Sessional, freelance or agency workers are usually paid by the hour. Hourly rates range from £8.50 to £13.50 an hour, depending on the CSW's level of BSL qualification and whether or not they hold BTEC qualifications.

People with additional CACDP qualifications may be able to earn more. For example, the Association of Lipspeakers recommends that level 2 lipspeakers be paid at least £14.50 an hour, and level 3 £20.00 an hour.

Further information

Council for the Advancement of Communication with Deaf People (CACDP)
Durham University Science Park
Block 4
Stockton Road
Tel: 0191 383 1155
Textphone: 0191 383 7915

National Association for the Tertiary Education of Deaf People (NATED)
c/o 161 Mount Pleasant
B97 4JJ

Other Useful Communication Support Worker Work Information

We have a section available at this site on Communication Support Worker job interview tips that you may find of interest should you wish to brush up your skills in this area and we also have number of career articles that may also be of use to you from within our guides and documents section.

Locations where we feature Jobs include:-
Aberdeen, Berkshire, Aberdeen, Bath, Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Cambridgeshire, Cardiff, Central London, Cheltenham, Cornwall, Coventry, Derby, Devon, Docklands, Dorset, Dundee, Durham, East Midlands, East Sussex, Edinburgh, Essex, Glasgow, Gloucester, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Lancashire, Leeds, Leicester, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Midlands and in various parts of the West Midlands

Details of other Communication Support Worker Jobs can also be found in other UK wide areas including:-
Milton Keynes, Newcastle, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Norfolk, North London, North Midlands, Northampton, Northamptonshire, Northern Ireland, Northumberland, Norwich, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Oxford, Oxfordshire, Plymouth, Salisbury, Scotland, Sheffield, Shropshire, Somerset, South East, South London, South Midlands, Southampton, Staffordshire Surrey, Swansea, Swindon, Telford, Wales, Warwickshire, West End, West London, West Midlands, Worcestershire, York and throughout Yorkshire.

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