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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

In an O*NET survey, ASL majors were asked to rate what knowledge areas, skills, and abilities were important in their occupations. These answers were weighted on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the most important.

Knowledge Areas for ASL Majors

According to O*NET survey takers, a major in ASL should prepare you for careers in which you will need to be knowledgeable in the following areas:

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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

When studying ASL, you’ll learn many skills that will help you be successful in a wide range of jobs - even those that do not require a degree in the field. The following is a list of some of the most common skills needed for careers associated with this major:

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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

Some of the most crucial abilities to master while a ASL student include the following:

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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?

People with a ASL degree often go into the following careers:

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
The major attracts more women than men. About 69% of the recent graduates in this field are 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

Americans aren’t the only ones with an interest in ASL. 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

The U.S. Department of Education found that students who graduated in 2015-2017 with a master’s degree in American Sign Language made a median starting salary of $51,400 per year. 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

Average salaries range from $55,230 to $76,990 (25th to 75th percentile) for careers related to ASL. This range includes all degree levels, so you may expect those with a more advanced degree to make more while those with less advanced degrees will typically make less.

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 )
0K
250K

Some careers associated with ASL require an advanced degree while some may not even require a bachelor’s. In general, the more advanced your degree the more career options will open up to you. However, there is significant time and money that needs to be invested into your education so weigh the pros and cons.

Find out what the typical degree level is for ASL careers below.

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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 2018-2019, 204 schools offered a ASL program of some type. 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

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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