What is a Cryptologic Linguist?

Cryptologic LinguistIf you’re fluent in more than one language or have an innate ability to learn new languages quickly, then you could be the perfect fit for being a cryptologic linguist. As their name suggests, cryptologic linguists are language specialists who perform important translation duties. In an effort to maintain optimal national security, cryptologic linguists usually work with military organizations to intercept valuable information written or spoken in a region’s native tongue. As America faces more terrorist threats and continues broadening its global ties, the demand for cryptologic linguists will likely stay strong. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics states that positions for cryptologic linguists and other language translators will skyrocket by 46 percent through 2022. Below we’ve created a brief job profile to determine if being a cryptologic linguist is right for you.

What Cryptologic Linguists Do

It’s the duty of cryptologic linguists to utilize state-of-the-art signals equipment and identify foreign communications relevant to military operations. Cryptologic linguists lend their translation expertise to intelligence analysts and war officials. Most will specialize in decoding and analyzing messages written in specific languages, such as Spanish, Arabic, Russian, Hebrew, Pashto, Urdu, Farsi, or Korean. Using their security clearance, cryptologic linguists transcribe and translate intercepted voice or graphic communications. They play a vital role in collecting reports for locating foreign intelligence targets on the frontlines. Some cryptologic linguists may also participate in military interrogations by asking questions and translating responses in the detained person’s language.

Where Cryptologic Linguists Serve

Cryptologic linguists are enlisted soldiers who serve in all five branches of the U.S. military, including the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard. Some may be stationed at a base in the United States, but the majority of cryptologic linguists serve overseas to immerse themselves in the local language and culture. Active-duty cryptologic linguists may be assigned terms ranging from two to six years depending on their mission. In some cases, part-time cryptologic linguists will be hired for Reserve Service or the National Guard. Senior cryptologic linguists may even be employed by federal government agencies to keep leaders abreast of information in classified foreign communications.

How to Become a Cryptologic Linguist

Becoming a cryptologic linguist will require that you meet all of the military’s requirement. You’ll need to be a U.S. citizen, pass a background check, and qualify for security clearance. Most branches will require cryptologic linguists to have a high school diploma or GED equivalent with at least 15 college credits. Passing the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) with a satisfactory score is mandated. Since foreign language skills are vital, cryptologic linguists must also earn a minimum score of 110 on the Defense Language Aptitude Battery (DLAB). After completing 10 weeks of rigorous Basic Military Training, aspiring cryptologic linguists will go through technical training with on-the-job instruction, according to Language Surfer. Soldiers who aren’t fluent in another language may spend up to 18 months at the Defense Language Institute.

Related Resource:Jobs in Counterterrorism

Overall, cryptologic linguists are enlisted military members who use their language expertise to receive, translate, and record foreign intelligence. Cryptologic linguists devote most of their time to translation for keeping meticulous records on information gathered in missions. Although becoming a cryptologic linguist requires plenty of training, it pays off in preparing soldiers for future civilian jobs as translators and interpreters.