Some members of the military must be able to read and understand the many languages of the world. Information from foreign
language media is important to the nation’s defense. Interpreters and translators convert written or spoken foreign
languages into English or other languages. They usually specialize in a particular foreign language.
What They Do
Interpreters and translators in the military perform some or all of the following duties:
- Translate written and spoken foreign language material to and from English, making sure to preserve the original meaning
- Interview prisoners of war, enemy deserters, and civilian informers in their native languages
- Record foreign radio transmissions using sensitive communications equipment
- Prepare written reports about the information obtained
- Translate foreign documents, such as battle plans and personnel records
- Translate foreign books and articles describing foreign equipment and construction techniques
- Install, operate, and maintain electronic equipment used to intercept foreign communications
Helpful school subjects include speech, communications, and foreign languages. Helpful attributes include:
- Interest in reading and writing
- Interest in working with people
- Talent for foreign languages
Job training consists of classroom instruction including practice in interpretation. Training length varies depending on
Longer training is necessary for specialties that do not require foreign language fluency prior to entry. For
these specialties, foreign language training for 6 to 12 months is provided.
Further training occurs on the job and
through advanced courses. Course content typically includes:
- Interrogation (questioning) methods
- Use and care of communications equipment
- Procedures for preparing reports
Interpreters and translators normally work on military bases, aboard ships, or in airplanes.
Civilian interpreters and translators work for government agencies, embassies, universities, and companies that conduct
Their work is similar to the work of military interpreters and translators.