FBI Linguist

Translate foreign-language documents into English for the FBI.
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Quick Stats

Salary Range
$39,000 – $119,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do FBI Linguists do?

FBI Linguists interpret foreign documents concerning national security, and translate them from their original language into English. As an FBI Linguist, you immerse yourself in your language’s history and culture because the most in-depth translations can save the world as we know it. The job of an FBI Linguist is both an art and a science.

You close language barriers, and in so doing, you help solve crimes and connect the government with the rest of the world. Some days, you might translate recorded phone calls between leaders of major foreign drug cartels. Other assignments might require you to interpret communications between terrorist groups about attacks planned for American soil. You provide pivotal links that help FBI Agents crack their cases.

Though the FBI employs Linguists who specialize in every language spoken on the planet, some languages are more important to national security efforts. These include Arabic, Chinese, Farsi, Korean, Punjabi, Russian, Spanish, Urdu, and Vietnamese. As an FBI Linguist, you’ll have four job options available to you, depending on your skills and professional goals: Contract Linguist, Contract Language Monitor, Contract Tester, and Special Agent Linguist.

In a contract position, you work on an on-call basis, only when the government needs your help. You can become a Contract Linguist if you excel in translating hard-copy materials and turning foreign language audio files into translated documents. Contract Language Monitor duties are similar, but only require you to provide a summary interpretation instead of a word-for-word translation. Contract Testers administer language proficiency exams over the phone. Lastly, if you choose to become a Special Agent Linguist, you will be a specialized FBI Agent, and use your interpretive skills in high-level federal cases.

Should I be a FBI Linguist?

You should have a certificate degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Reliable: You can always be counted on to do a good job.
  • Team Player: You're able to listen, communicate, and work with tons of different people.
  • Calm Under Pressure: You keep your cool when dealing with highly stressful situations.

  • Also known as: Contract Language Monitor, Contract Linguist, Contract Tester, Federal Bureau of Investigation Linguist See More

    How to become a FBI Linguist

    Most FBI Linguists have an Associate's degree or a Certificate. Chart?chd=s:95weaa&chl=no+college+%2842%25%29|certificate+%2839%25%29|associate%27s+%2815%25%29|bachelor%27s+%283%25%29||&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,42,42
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