United States Army Linguist

There's more to it than battlefield carnage...

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The Occupation

Army linguists are military personnel that specialize in translating languages local to the battlefield to aid their comrades in carrying out (typically) classified operations. There are two general types in which recruited army linguists are placed based on their preference or proficiency. There are tactical linguists, who work in the battlefield and strategic linguists, who mainly work in an office but may be exposed to elements of the battlefield every now and then.


Those considering this profession should realize that there is lots of travelling involved. These specialists are often times stationed at bases worldwide translating foreign documents and information from a multitude of ethnic groups for the good of the U.S. Army and allied forces.


Although you may specialize in having a linguistic skill, you are essentially a soldier and you are still at risk of the multitude of battle wounds and pyschological trauma that any other soldier would be prone to. Strategic linguists, although not always active on the frontlines, should also consider the possibility of attack on the base at which they are stationed.


Joining the army benefits the enlistee with money to repay education, plenty of vacation time, family support groups, and comprehensive health care.


Those pursuing this career should be fluent in at least one of the required languages to qualify as an Army linguist. Currently, these required languages are Dari, Pashto, and Farsi.

The Downside

With typical Army deployments lasting for at least 12 months, it can be quite hard on families. Anyone deployed in the Army will be absent in the lives of their loved ones for an extended period of time which can be very stressful for both the soldier and the family. Please consider your families prior to enlisting in any branch of the military.


If anyone is interested in getting a head start in this profession, one could attend Yale University, the University of Toronto, or any other school with a reputation for teaching languages well.

Base Salary

The base salary of skilled army linguists is approximately 1,000 per month but may have an enlistment bonus of $40,000-$50,000 per year. You may also receive an alternate enlistment bonus of $65,000 from the Army Loan Repayment Program to repay any student loans. You may receive an additional $400 for each language you learn. Keep in mind that college credits can increase pay and also help to progress in rank.