Could A Degree In Linguistics Help Get Me A Government Job?

"I would like an exciting career with the CIA or a similar agency in the United States goverment. Will a degree in Linguistics get me there?"

asked by Monica H. from Tulsa, OK

It certainly could! There are several opportunities for linguists in US government agencies. Cultivating the attainment and continuation of foreign language expertise is vital at the CIA due to the universal scope of our intelligence amassing endeavors. Those who possess exemplary language skills are sought-after candidates in the mission to safeguard the United States.

Comprehensive research abilities, evaluating foreign mass media and the teaching of critical language proficiencies to members of the agency are imperative. Working with the CIA affords one the opportunity to leverage one’s stellar language aptitude through a meaningful and significant career for the good of the country.

For instance, OSO’s (Open Source Officers) are the Intelligence Community’s go-to person when it comes to gathering and evaluating openly accessible data in the foreign sector. OSO’s utilize their foreign language expertise, knowledge of the region, and supplementary proficiencies to analyze and evaluate this information. Television, radio, newspapers, topographical resources, Internet websites and specified publications are among the sources accessed to provide highly classified information and crucial results to foreign affairs officials of the United States.

Top candidates are creative and enthusiastic, and possess an acute awareness of foreign affairs. The successful applicant will have solid analytical and writing skills; proficient in more than one foreign language; highly skilled at Internet research; and have exceptional English language and communication skills. This individual will also be socially adept and charismatic.

These languages, together with the appropriate knowledge of the region, are among those in demand: Russian, Ukrainian, Central Eurasian dialects and Uzbek; and Turkish, Farsi/Persian, Arabic, Kurdish, Hebrew, and; French, Spanish, Portuguese, and at least three Western European languages; Eastern European languages; Chinese, Japanese Korean, and; Dari, Hindi, Pashtu and Urdu.

A Bachelor’s, Master’s degree, and Ph.D. in all disciplines are taken into consideration. Several Open Source Officers have actually resided in their region or country of interest and have meticulously studied its politics and history. Selected candidates are required to achieve high scores in language proficiency and critical writing tests, which comprise a portion of the vetting process.

The average pay rate for an Open Source Officer is $58,000 to $116,000.

For even more excitement, consider utilizing your linguistics degree in a career with the NCS— the National Clandestine Service—as a Language Officer. Carrying out a crucial and dynamic role, a Language Officer employs highly developed foreign language proficiency, knowledge, and expertise to deliver accurate translation, interpretation, and linguistic-associated assistance for a plethora of clandestine operations for the NCS. As well as applying his or her adept language skills, a Language Officer will provide a comprehensive cultural insight, which is a significant aspect of the job.

Similar to most NCS vocations, international travel and specialized training are essential to the job. The NCS is interested in candidates who display a fluency in these languages: Arabic, Dari, Pashto, Russian, Somali, Chinese, Korean, and Farsi or Persian.

In addition to a salary range of $52,000 – $96,000, NCS staff that currently possesses exceptional language expertise may be awarded a substantial signing bonus and language utilization expenses.

The minimum requirements for a NCS position comprise a BA, comprehensive foreign language fluency in the aforementioned languages, and a passionate concern for international affairs. Applicants must have thorough English language communication skills—written and spoken—and be effectively and socially adept.

Not unlike all NCS specialized professionals, the duties of a Language Officer warrants unconditional allegiance to the mission.

Language Officers usually work in the Washington DC area.

Career Spotlight: Linguist



A linguist encompasses many specialties, allowing you to work in the computer industry, as translator and interpreters or as a language advisor to the government or private firms. You may even engage [...]

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