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MuffinMonarch's avatar

Join the Military as a Linguist or Intelligence?

Asked by MuffinMonarch (148points) May 6th, 2011

I am very interested in being a linguist or Intelligence in the military (ideally Navy or Air Force). What can I expect? Will I be assigened more quickly than other jobs(less wait time after I enlist)? Key differences? Civilian jobs similar? Any special pay?

Any other related info would be much appreciated

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13 Answers

Ron_C's avatar

When in high school, my youngest daughter researched the same subject. Her conclusion was that the Army had the best language program. She was sent to an immersion course in Russian and actually lived with a Russian family to polish her skills. She was already fluent in German (with a Bavarian accent) and went on to learn Serbian and Croatian.

Being a Navy veteran, I was a little disappointed that she joined the army but she did exactly the right thing and went on to Penn State to gain a degree in Chemical Engineering with a minor in Russian Literature.

I drew the line, however, when the CIA attempted to recruit her and promised to do everything I could to ruin her security clearance. I spent a little time with CIA operatives and was disgusted with the things that they did.

Military Intelligence is an honorable field worthy for you to pursue. While I don’t see an honorable field for civilian employment, it is a stepping stone for furthering your education especially if you are interested in international engineering and business.

optimisticpessimist's avatar

Much of your question lies in what language or what intelligence specialty you would get. The Defense Language Institute (DLI) is for all four branches. They are taught the same skills at the same school. If you pass the course and are qualified (they do have a high wash out rate for some languages), you have to take a test and according to your proficiency in the language you are paid extra money every month for your foreign language proficiency. You do have to maintain proficiency and re-test periodically to ensure proficiency. The length of DLI is based upon the language being taught; obviously’ the more difficult the language the longer the course.

There are different areas of intelligence and linguistics is one of the areas. However, you do not learn exactly what the job is until you go to school for it (after your clearance is given). You will be required to have a top secret security clearance. A background check is required. There is no set time limit for the background check; depending upon your background, this can be a short or a long time. You seemed to care about time factor.

You also did not mention if you intended to go in as an officer or enlisted. As enlisted, the ASVAB is given and once your scores are processed each branch can offer different MOS’s accordingly. When I took my ASVAB, a girl was there who planned on going into the USN. After her scores were processed, she was offered the job of cook in the USN. She did not want that so she took her scores to the USA and they offered her the job of tank mechanic based upon the same scores. She went into the Army. This is an example of how the different branches have different requirements for their specialties.

mrmijunte's avatar

In my case I took the ASVAB and did great, the Navy recruiter was amazed by my scores because I went to school in Mexico, he told me the average is 41 ( 2002 ), and I got a whooping 87, I just messed up the part about mechanical stuff and those “figure puzzles”. After that I was offered to take a cryptology test because I have a so called “universal face” and because I can speak a bit of Italian, and Spanish. I aced the test and I was told that I was going to start in boot camp as E3 pay scale and after completing boot camp I was going to be sent to Monterey, CA. @Ron_C What you say was pretty much what the recruiter and another Navy Officer ( he came to see me after the cryptology test ) told me was going to be my experience. I was looking forward to it but unfortunately the Dr. at Fort Bliss did not even want to see me because I had a heart surgery as an infant.
My point is that you should really go for it, sounds like a great career and fun as well. Either as linguist or intel, which doesn’t it fall under the same category?

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
CaptainHarley's avatar


Is right about one thing, at least… the Army does a much better job of training its linguists.

optimisticpessimist's avatar

@CaptainHarley They all go to the same school with the same instructors. Maybe this was different previously, but now, it makes no difference.

CaptainHarley's avatar


Really? Well dog my cats! What happened to the laguage school at the Presidio?

optimisticpessimist's avatar

@CaptainHarley It is still there. Now everyone uses it. It is common in the military to have joint school commands if the subject (MOS) being taught is virtually the same in the different branches. This saves all the services money as they pool resources. The instructors are pulled from all branches who attend the school. If there is branch specific information, that particular branch may add classes (instruction time) which are attended only by that branch.

CaptainHarley's avatar

Makes sense! : D

Ron_C's avatar

@plethora actually, she took it pretty well because she refused them before I made the comment. She is much happier as an executive with a very nice family and without sneaking around playing dirty trick on today’s enemy and tomorrow’s ally.

I have no problem with intelligence gathering but have a lot of problem with the CIA habit of running drugs, destabilizing governments, and installing dictators.

If you don’t understand it, my daughter does.

CaptainHarley's avatar


It’s a dirty job, but somebody’s gotta do it? : )

plethora's avatar

@Ron_C No problem…glad she does and that you have a good relationship with her..:)

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