Languages to Learn for the CIA


The CIA employs individuals of diverse backgrounds with varying experience and education. While foreign languages are an asset in many different fields, from law to investigations and analysis, the CIA particularly targets applicants with certain language skills and proficiency.

Foreign Language Instructors

  • CIA agents and clandestine employees often need language skills to work on assignment in foreign countries. The CIA employs language instructors who have mastered foreign languages and also possess teaching skills. According to the CIA website, language instructors of Arabic, Mandarin, Pashto, French, German, Greek, Italian, Korean, Farsi, Portuguese, Croatian, Spanish and Turkish are in demand. But the jobs are competitive. They require 2 to 5 years of teaching experience, plus native command of the language. Applicants should also be familiar with the culture, history, politics and customs of the countries of their foreign language so as to adequately provide education to CIA employees.

NCS Language Officers

  • The National Clandestine Service, or NCS, is a division of the CIA that employs individuals to live and work overseas, acting as satellite assets for the agency. While the NCS has many different jobs to fill abroad, NCS Language Officers provide translation and interpretive support the agency's needs in a particular region or country. Arabic, Chinese, Dari, Korean, Pashto, Farsi, Russian and Somali are top languages to learn to be in demand for this position.

Sign Language Interpreter

  • The CIA employs sign language interpreters to support its equal opportunity compliance and assist with interpreting to and from employees and CIA assets who use the language. Heavy in travel, the job takes the interpreter wherever needs arise. Candidates must be ASL-certified interpreters, and must be willing to travel overseas if needed.

Open Source Officer

  • Open Source Officers analyze media trends and follow news hubs around the globe in support of CIA intelligence. Not only do Open Source Officers need excellent written English skills to communicate verbally and in written form, but they also need expertise and language proficiency in the foreign region of their concentration. Languages most in demand for this job are Turkish, Farsi, Kurdish, Hebrew, Somali, Arabic, Russian, Uzbek, Ukrainian, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Hindi, Urdu, Dari, and Pashtu.

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