Job Family: International Relations, Linguistics, and Other Social Sciences Interpreters and Translators
Services Offering this Occupation
Army  | Navy  | Air Force  | Marine Corps

Supplemental Information
Profile  | 
Photo 1: Interpreter translates for troops. Photo 2:
Translator works on document.

John Holsonback
Occupation: Interpreter and Translator

When I was told that my test scores on the Defense Language Aptitude Battery qualified me for training as a military linguist, I was …

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Short Description
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 Attributes
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

Training Provided
Job training consists of classroom instruction including practice in interpretation. Training length varies depending on specialty. 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

Work Environment
Interpreters and translators normally work on military bases, aboard ships, or in airplanes.

Civilian Counterparts
Civilian interpreters and translators work for government agencies, embassies, universities, and companies that conduct business overseas. Their work is similar to the work of military interpreters and translators.

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