How Do You Become a Cryptologic Linguist?

Cryptologic LinguistAnyone can become a Cryptologic Linguist after they have successfully joined the military and qualified for the job. In fact, the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines all offer Cryptologic Linguist positions. Continue reading to learn how to become a military Cryptologic Linguist.

What is a Cryptologic Linguist?

These language professionals are tasked with identifying and analyzing foreign communications with cutting edge equipment and technology. They play an active role in defending the country through obtaining and submitting critical foreign intelligence to decision makers. They assist intelligence analysts and provide transcriptions and translations as requested. All military branches require that Cryptologic Linguists have the appropriate Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) and Defense Language Aptitude Battery (DLAB) scores.

What is the ASVAB?

Anyone that applies to any military branch must take the ASVAB, which is a timed test available at over 15,000 schools and all national Military Entrance Processing Stations (MEPS). The ASVAB, which was designed by the Department of Defense, has four major components: Arithmetic Reasoning, Mathematics Knowledge, Word Knowledge and Paragraph Comprehension. In a nutshell, the ASVAB tests students on their math and English skills. There are other areas that also count to the final Armed Forces Qualifying Test (AFQT) score. All Military Occupation Specializations (MOS) have official AFQT score requirements for employment. The ASVAB is similar to annual statewide public school tests and college placement tests.

What is the DLAB?

Similar to the ASVAB, the the Defense Language Aptitude Battery (DLAB) was designed by the Department of Dense. The DLAB only tests students on their potential ability to learn a foreign language. Anyone who wishes to become a Cryptologic Linguist must typically have a DLAB score of 95. However, each military branch requires different scores depending on the target language difficulty level. There are four language categories; each level has a higher score requirement for more difficult target languages. For example, the Category I language score requirement is 95 and qualifies students to study common languages such as French, Spanish and Italian. Category II languages, such as German or Indonesian, require a score of 100 or higher. Category III languages are more complex and require a score of 105 or higher. They include Hindi, Russian, Tagalog and Thai. Finally, Category IV languages need a score of 110 or higher. They include the most difficult language to learn, such as Japanese, Mandarin Chinese and Standard Arabic. You can find tips, study guides and practice tests for the DLAB here.

A Typical Path to Becoming a Cryptologic Linguist

According to the U.S. Army, a Cryptologic Linguist must have an ASVAB Skilled Technical score of 91 to qualify. Their training typically consists of Basic Training for 10 weeks and 52 weeks of Advanced Individual Training (AIT). This involves classroom instruction, field excursions and on-the-job training. It is highly recommended that students study their target language in school before they join the Army. Otherwise, students who are not fluent in their target language must attend training at the Defense Language Institute for six to 18 months before they can actually enter their Advanced Individual Training program.

Related Resource: Counterterrorism Jobs

Overall, being a Cryptologic Linguist is a fascinating career that will allow the student to play a key role in protecting the country. Even better, there are many available civilian jobs through the Army’s Partnership for Youth Success (PaYS) program. The is a recruitment program that many military defense companies, such as Lockheed Martin and AAI Corp, participate in. To become a become a Cryptologic Linguist, study a foreign language and prepare for your ASVAB and DLAB tests today.