What qualifications do you need? You must know sign language and be able to use it to communicate with people fluently. You can learn the skill by taking courses at centres for the deaf or the Federation of Trade Unions. What sort of person does the job suit? It doesn't matter what kind of person you are because a sign language interpreter is only a medium. We only play the role of an interpreter. Our job nature is of a different nature from that of social workers, who need to do counselling work. We must be neutral in everything we do and it is best if we are unfamiliar with the individuals we help. What's the best way into the industry? This is a very small field. There are only about 10 sign language interpreters who have are registered with the High Court. I got into the industry by chance, as I had previously worked in a centre for the deaf as a programme worker and needed to learn sign language. What work hours do you keep? Most of us work from 9am to 5pm, although there will be some impromptu jobs you will need to do at night. I also teach sign language classes in the evening. Is there a clear career path? The population of deaf people in Hong Kong is dwindling. I personally feel that the future outlook of this field is not very good. What's the best part of your job? Helping the deaf. Although the population of deaf people is small, there are only a few sign language interpreters and many people require our services. What's the worst? Sometimes I become saddened by the experiences of deaf people when doing translation for them. Salary? The salary of sign language officers ranges from about $10,000 to $30,000. But since our salary was de-linked from the government pay system, it is difficult to say how much newcomers can now earn. Last word? You don't have to be an interpreter to help deaf people in their daily lives. But if you want to enter this field, your signing techniques have to be very good. You need to spend a lot of time honing your skills and gathering experience. You cannot be an interpreter after taking a few courses. It is a very long road.