Language Skills: Military Opportunities

Senior Airman Whitni Orgass, 41st Expeditionary Electronic Combat Squadron cryptological language analyst, works at her station aboard an EC-130 Compass Call aircraft on Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. David Dobrydney)
Senior Airman Whitni Orgass, 41st Expeditionary Electronic Combat Squadron cryptological language analyst, works at her station aboard an EC-130 Compass Call aircraft on Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. David Dobrydney)

There are several career opportunities for those who speak or have the ability to learn foreign languages, especially in the area of military intelligence. For example people with foreign language skills have two career options in Army Intelligence. The first is the Human Intelligence Collector; the second is the Cryptologic Linguist. Both jobs play a vital role in our national defense and success in the global war on terrorism.

Human Intelligence Collector

Having access to the correct information is absolutely necessary to plan for our national defense. Human Intelligence (HUMINT) Collectors are integral to providing Army personnel with information about the enemy’s force strength, capabilities, vulnerabilities and intentions, as well as potential battle areas. HUMINT Collectors conduct source operations, interrogations and debriefings to collect this information.

Also known by the Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) 35M (35 Mike), the Human Intelligence Collector is primarily responsible for supervising and conducting information collection operations. Some of the Human Intelligence Collector duties may include:

  • Assisting in the screening of intelligence sources and documents.
  • Conducting debriefings and interrogations of intelligence sources in English and foreign languages.
  • Translating written foreign material and captured documents into English.
  • Preparing and editing appropriate intelligence and administrative reports.
  • Utilizing HUMINT reporting and communications equipment.

Cryptologic Linguist

Although the Cryptologic Linguist’s job is similar to the HUMINT Collector, the Linguist's duties are more focused on interpreting foreign language newspapers, magazines, radio broadcasts and other sources, making him or her one of the most important members of the Army’s intelligence gathering team.

More precisely, the Cryptologic Linguist’s primary job is performing and supervising the detection, acquisition, identification and exploitation of foreign communications.

Also known by the MOS 35P (35 Papa), the Cryptologic Linguist’s duties may include:

  • Translating, transcribing or producing summaries of foreign language transmissions in English/target languages.
  • Identifying languages spoken in an assigned geographic area.
  • Scanning written foreign language material for key words and indicators.
  • Providing records of foreign intercepted communications.
  • Operating communication equipment for Signal Intelligence tasking, reporting and coordination.
  • Translating written and spoken foreign language material to and from English, making sure to preserve the original meaning.
  • Recording foreign radio transmissions using sensitive communications equipment.
  • Translating foreign books and articles describing foreign equipment and construction techniques.

In addition, both jobs help prepare you for a future with federal government agencies such as the Central Intelligence Agency or the National Security Agency. In addition linguists are in high demand in embassies, universities and companies that conduct business overseas as a civilian translator or interpreter.

Because of the time you'll spend studying society and human nature, depending on which specialty you pursue, you might be interested in a career as a lawyer, statistician, marketing manager, advertising executive, mathematician, computer programmer, computer scientist, reporter, social worker or counselor. The skills you learn as a member of the Army Intelligence gathering team will open the door to virtually any career you desire.

Language Skills Translate into Cash Bonuses and Benefits

The Army offers the following cash bonuses, benefits, and incentives. Your eligilbity for these bonuses is depended upon your chosen MOS and other factors.

  • Maximum Combined Enlistment Bonus - up to $40,000
  • Deferred Enlistment – up to $14,000
  • Seasonal/Quick Ship Bonuses – up to$20,000
  • Active Army Bonus for Civilian Skills – $5,000
  • Army Education Bonus – up to $8,000 for applicants with a college education.
  • The Montgomery GI Bill and the Army College Fund (up to $71,424) - OR –
  • The Army College Loan Repayment Program (up to $65,000) can help you with student loan payments.

Other Benefits:

  • World-class language and intelligence training.
  • Health care, life insurance, and other essential benefits are provided at low or no cost.
  • Army Tuition Assistance - pays 100 percent of your educational benefits while serving on active-duty.
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