The Federal Bureau of Investigation uses language specialists to help maintain national security and fight organized crime and terrorism. The FBI hires linguists with professional proficiency in 100-plus languages in contract positions, in addition to hiring special agent linguists in full-time career positions. Contract linguists receive an hourly rate commensurate with their skills, while special agents receive full-time salaries according to the Government Service law enforcement schedules.
The FBI has contract linguist jobs throughout the United States paying an hourly rate of $27 to $41 per hour. These contract jobs do not guarantee 40 hours of work or full-time pay. The FBI has the option of renewing your contract, but each contract covers only one fiscal year. Yearly contracts do not include any fringe benefits.
Contract Linguist Job Requirements
A contract linguist job requires fluency in English plus in a second language, with a high level in listening, speaking, reading and writing. Only languages needed by the FBI qualify. You must also be able to use a computer, possess U.S. citizenship and be willing to renounce dual citizenship in a foreign country. You must pass an FBI language test and background check. You have to be able to work during regular business hours for a minimum of 20 hours per week.
Contract Language Monitors
Contract language monitors fulfill another contract translation role for the FBI. Their job entails preparing English summaries from recordings and written material in a foreign language. The requirements are similar to those of regular contract linguists, and hours also vary with the bureau's needs. The FBI will set the rate of pay in your personal contract. Since contract language monitors work as an independent contractor, they also do not receive benefits from the government.
Special Agent Linguists
The FBI also hires linguists in full-time career positions as special agents. These positions include health insurance, vacation and other benefits. Applicants must meet the additional requirements of special agents, such as age usually between 23 and 37 and having a four-year college degree. The pay begins at GS-10, Step 1, or a yearly base pay of $47,297 as of the date of publication. In addition, special agents receive locality pay depending on the area where they work, plus additional 25 percent pay for a 50-hour workweek. Grade 10, Step 1 salary with a locality payment of 19.29 percent comes to $56,421. Those who advance to supervisor or manager can eventually achieve Grade 14 or 15.