Following 9/11, the FBI has changed its main focus to counterterrorism and domestic intelligence.  This has prompted the FBI bolstering staff for relevant divisions, and incorporating an expansion in interpretation and translation jobs.  The FBI has around 1,400 etymologists who work at 114 locations in the U.S. and overseas.

When the FBI initially declared that it was contracting linguists, it got around 40,000 applicants vying for the coveted positions. To this day, it still receives around 1,500 applications from candidates including graduates, Americans living for extended periods overseas and citizens who grew up overseas.  Despite this tremendous enthusiasm among remote dialect speakers who wish to serve their nation, the FBI enlists generally few of these candidates fundamentally due to thorough screening which precludes many. The join the FBI, high standards must be met, and include proficiency in English as well as another language.

Job Description for FBI Linguist

FBI Linguists must not only translate, but also analyse, millions of pages of material in foreign language. They must also engage in 22,000 hours of vocal translation. These paper and audio translations are essential for interviewing suspects, witnesses and victims in the case of criminal and terrorist operations that threaten or hurt U.S. citizens or interests.

Linguists must be able to:

1. Not only read but also fully comprehend formal and stylized text in their specialized foreign language
2. Know how to understand and interpret multiple dialects in a given foreign language.
3. Listen, read, write and comprehend English.
4. Be able to use computers in at least a basic operational capacity.
5. Create translations of foreign language writing and audio samples quickly.
6. Run interviews in both English and another language.

FBI linguists are focuses on the following foreign languages:

1. Urdu
2. Spanish
3. Korean
4. Russian
5. Arabic
6. Farsi
7. Chinese
8. Punjabi
9. Vietnamese

Salary and Job Benefits for FBI Linguist

Salaries for FBI Linguists range from $33,000 to $78,000 per annum, however, many linguists are contractors rather than full time staff. This means that contractors are hired for an hourly rate, which can be up to $38 an hour. FBI Linguists have high job satisfaction, as they can serve their country in a manner that’s more important than any financial reward.