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American Sign Language Major

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American Sign Language

93 Master's Degrees Annually
4 Doctor's Degrees Annually
#238 in Popularity (Master's)
$55,230 Median Salary

Types of Degrees American Sign Language Majors Are Getting

The following table lists how many American Sign Language graduations there were in 2018-2019 for each degree level.

Education Level Number of Grads
Master’s Degree 93
Graduate Certificate 9
Doctor’s Degree 4

What American Sign Language Majors Need to Know

People with careers related to ASL were asked what knowledge areas, skills, and abilities were important for their jobs. They weighted these areas on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the highest.

Knowledge Areas for ASL Majors

This major prepares you for careers in which these knowledge areas are important:

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  • Foreign Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of a foreign (non-English) language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition and grammar, and pronunciation.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  • Law and Government - Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.
  • Communications and Media - Knowledge of media production, communication, and dissemination techniques and methods. This includes alternative ways to inform and entertain via written, oral, and visual media.

Skills for ASL Majors

The following list of skills has been highlighted as some of the most essential for careers related to ASL:

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  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Writing - Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Abilities for ASL Majors

As a ASL major, you will find yourself needing the following abilities:

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  • Speech Recognition - The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Speech Clarity - The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.

What Can You Do With a American Sign Language Major?

Below is a list of occupations associated with ASL:

Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary
Interpreters and Translators 17.7% $49,930
Professors 9.4% $65,660

Who Is Getting a Master’s Degree in American Sign Language?

93 Master's Degrees Annually
69% Percent Women
24% Percent Racial-Ethnic Minorities*
This major is dominated by women with about 69% of recent graduates being female.

Racial-Ethnic Diversity

At the countrywide level, the racial-ethnic distribution of ASL majors is as follows:

Racial-Ethnic Diversity of ASL Students with Master's Degrees
Race/Ethnicity Number of Grads
Asian 0
Black or African American 4
Hispanic or Latino 13
White 67
International Students 2
Other Races/Ethnicities 7

Geographic Diversity

ASL appeals to people across the globe. About 2.2% of those with this major are international students. The most popular countries for students from outside the country are:

  • Canada
  • Hong Kong
  • Mexico
  • Jamaica
  • Japan

How Much Do American Sign Language Majors Make?

Master’s Degree Starting Salary

According to 2017-2018 data from the U.S. Department of Education, students who graduated with a master’s degree in ASL have a median salary of $51,400 during the early years of their career. During this timeframe, most salaries fell between $51,400 (25th percentile) and $51,400 (75th percentile).

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Note that some of these people may have jobs that are not directly related to a ASL degree.

Salaries According to BLS

ASL majors often go into careers where salaries can range from $55,230 to $76,990 (25th to 75th percentile). This range includes all degree levels, so the salary for a person with just a bachelor’s degree may be a little less and the one for a person with an advanced degree may be a little more.

To put that into context, according to BLS data from the first quarter of 2020, the typical high school graduate makes between $30,000 and $57,900 a year (25th through 75th percentile). The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $45,600 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,600 and $125,400.

Median Salary for an American Sign Language Major  ( 55230 to 76990 )
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250K
Median Salary for a High School Graduate  ( 30000 to 57900 )
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250K
Median Salary for a Bachelor's Degree Holder  ( 45600 to 99000 )
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250K
Median Salary for an Advanced Degree Holder  ( 55600 to 125400 )
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250K

Some careers associated with ASL require an advanced degree while some may not even require a bachelor’s. Whatever the case may be, pursuing more education usually means that more career options will be available to you.

How much schooling do you really need to compete in today’s job market? People currently working in careers related to ASL have obtained the following education levels.

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Education Level Percentage of Workers
High School Diploma - or the equivalent (for example, GED) 1.1%
Post-Secondary Certificate - awarded for training completed after high school (for example, in agriculture or natural resources, computer services, personal or culinary services, engineering technologies, healthcare, construction trades, mechanic and repair technologies, or precision production) 1.1%
Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree) 11.3%
Bachelor’s Degree 52.1%
Master’s Degree 25.5%
Post-Master’s Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Master’s degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees at the doctoral level. 8.9%

Online American Sign Language Programs

In the 2018-2019 academic year, 204 schools offered some type of American Sign Language program. The following table lists the number of programs by degree level, along with how many schools offered online courses in the field.

Degree Level Colleges Offering Programs Colleges Offering Online Classes
Certificate (Less Than 1 Year) 81 2
Certificate (1-2 years) 71 1
Certificate (2-4 Years) 2 0
Associate’s Degree 143 3
Bachelor’s Degree 2 0
Post-Baccalaureate 81 2
Master’s Degree 9 4
Post-Master’s 0 0
Doctor’s Degree (Research) 2 0
Doctor’s Degree (Professional Practice) 0 0
Doctor’s Degree (Other) 0 0

Is a Degree in American Sign Language Worth It?

The median salary for a ASL grad is $55,230 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 38% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $306,600 after 20 years!

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You may also be interested in one of the following majors related to ASL.

Major Number of Grads
Linguistics & Comparative Literature 1,722
Romance Languages 1,512
Classical Languages & Literature 336
East Asian Languages 257
Germanic Languages 207
Middle Eastern Semitic Languages 155
Slavic, Baltic & Albanian Languages 99
Foreign Language, Literature & Linguistics (Other) 54
African Languages 7
Celtic Language & Literature 4
South Asian Languages 3
Native American Languages 2
Greek Language & Literature 1
Turkic & Central Asian Languages 1
Iranian & Persian Languages 0

References

*The racial-ethnic minorities count is calculated by taking the total number of students and subtracting white students, international students, and students whose race/ethnicity was unknown. This number is then divided by the total number of students at the school to obtain the racial-ethnic minorities percentage.

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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