Translators in High Demand

U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Paul Zellner
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Paul Zellner

Our nation's defense has always depended on the military's ability to glean information from foreign language newspapers, magazines, radio broadcasts and other sources. Nowhere is this more important than in the countries of Iraq and Afghanistan. The Army needs speakers of Middle-Eastern languages to serve as interpreter/translators on both active and reserve duty.

Currently there are more than 14,000 soldier-linguists stationed in the U.S. and around the world. To become an Army translator, applicants must either demonstrate an ability to speak one of the Middle-Eastern languages by passing the Defense Language Proficiency Test, or score 95 or better on the Defense Language Aptitude Battery (DLAB) to show they have the natural ability to learn a new language.

Applicants who pass the DLAB qualify to attend the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center. The Defense Language Institute is the primary foreign language training institution within the Department of Defense. It offers an accelerated program that teaches Soldiers to read, write, listen, and speak foreign languages. Soldiers who graduate from the program use their new skills in military intelligence roles, listening in on communications or translating in the field.

All Army linguists are required to pass background checks and a security interview for (up to) a TOP SECRET security clearance. Many people find that having a security clearance increases their employment opportunities after leaving military service.

Being an Army linguist gives Soldiers the opportunity to learn new languages or hone their current language skills while serving a vital role in our nation's defense. As an added incentive, the Army is currently offering the following cash bonuses:

  • Translator Aide (Middle-Eastern languages) bonus of $10,000 for enlisting in the U.S. Army Individual Ready Reserve.
  • An Army Civilian Skills bonus of $5,000 for the Army (active duty) or $15,000 for the Army Reserve for applicants with no previous military service experience.
  • An additional $20,000 Quick Ship bonus for those who are willing to report to basic training within 30 days.

These bonuses may be combined with the Army's other cash enlistment bonuses for a maximum combination of $40,000 a four-year enlistment.

Note: In addition to regular pay and benefits, Army translators also qualify for up to $1,000 a month in Foreign Language Proficiency Pay.

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