FBI Linguists: Key Skills and Testing

FBI linguists speak about the key skills needed and testing required to work as an FBI linguist. Visit fbijobs.gov/linguists to learn more or apply and start your adventure as an FBI linguist today.

Video Transcript

Korean Linguist: There are two kinds of language skills one must have: written language skill and spoken language skill, in both target language and source language. In my case, my source language would be Korean, and my target language would be English.

Arabic Linguist: The testing process, I wish someone had told me to practice translation before, because I didn't know what I'm getting into, really; I just knew they needed Arabic skills—language, basically—to know the language, and of course, if one is born in another country or studied in another country, you feel you have this language skill. But really, again, translation is a learned skill; it takes practice.

Bulgarian and Spanish Linguist: The person should expect to undergo a very vigorous testing process. And a person who needs to have at least a level three speaking proficiency test needs to be a person being able to speak not only with colloquial terms—with the lower register—but also be able to manage successfully the higher register language. Such as, let's say with meetings with high-level government officials such as accompanying delegations. For example, visiting the Director of the FBI.

Russian Linguist: The process is not easy. It's lengthy. It requires several language tests, interviews, polygraph, drug test, and, if you're willing to go through all that, if you're really determined and dedicated, if you want to do good for the country, you will go through this process.

Spanish Linguist, North Central Region: Because language is ever changing, it's morphing, whether it's slang, whether it's formal, you need to keep up-to-date in terms of the content and the situation that you've been faced with. And as a linguist, you have to be well-read. You have to know what's going on in the world, not just in the world, but in the United States. Keep yourself informed. Keep an open mind. You're always learning and you never stop learning.

Spanish Linguist, Southwest Region: I live in the Southwest so speaking Spanish is a must, even the little mom and pop shops that I frequent, I have to speak Spanish. And then of course the variety of dialects that come across my desk, that helps me with vocabulary because a word that may be popular in say, Colombia, it's maybe not so popular in Mexico. They told me, "Okay, you're going to do a reading test, you're going to do a written test, and you're going to do an oral test." But the oral test, I really had no idea what to expect at all. In retrospect, I wish I would have paid more attention to current events. Just because it gives you something to talk about.

Russian Linguist: And don't give up. As we discussed, the process could be lengthy, but don't give up. It's a great job. It's the best. It's the best.

Voice Over: Visit fbijobs.gov/linguists to learn more or apply, and start your adventure as an FBI Linguist today.


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